The American Electoral College System
Before I delve into the heart of the matter and explain the detailed intricacies of our American Electoral College system, especially now that President-Elect Joe Biden’s electoral votes have been officially certified, my readers need to be aware that national polls in America unfortunately don’t mean anything! You might as well throw the national vote out the window. In this decaying democracy of ours, if that, national votes better known as “popular vote” don’t matter at all. Talk to Al Gore and Hillary Clinton about their election losses in 2000 in 2016 respectively. Imagine if Vice President Al Gore became our president instead of the Supreme Court handing the victory to George W. Bush in a controversial 5-4 decision. Imagine! The course of the entire world would have gone differently if there was even to be a Zionist Neocon September 11 inside job and the wars to follow.
But I digress.
What matters every four years are those swing states also known as, “the battleground states”. All legitimate democracies around the world elect their leaders through popular vote, as in, whoever gets the most votes wins. But in America, we do it differently. The US is the only country in the world that elects its president using a complicated system known as the Electoral College. It’s made up of delegates from each state. When we “vote” for our president, we are actually voting on who each state will vote for. This is why every so often someone wins the presidency without winning the popular vote.
So far, we have five example of such scenario: John Quincy Adams in 1824. Rutheford Hayes in 1876. Benjamin Harrison in 1888. And in modern times, George w. Bush who literally stole the election in 2000 from Al Gore in the battleground state of Florida when the final winner was picked by our Supreme Court itself as mentioned above. And let’s not forget 2016 when Hillary Clinton had over three million more popular votes than Trump and yet the presidency was “awarded” to Trump, again courtesy of the Electoral College system. The rest as we say is history: four years of imbecilic ruling of a malignant narcissist racist!
According to long term study by Gallup Poll from 1967 to 2020, the overwhelming majority of Americans do not approve of this antiquated system. The disapproval rate ranges from 80% in 1970 to 61% in 2019. Both political parties have made attempts to get rid of it. So why does the US still use the Electoral College system and who actually benefits from it?
The Electoral College system is based on how people are represented in the Congress where each state has a number of representatives based on its population. Regardless, every state gets two senators. Let’s look at Texas which has a huge population of over 25 million people verses Vermont which has a very small population of around 630,000 people. Texas has 36 representatives in Congress. Vermont only gets one. Representatives in both states represent roughly the same number of people: 702,000 in Texas and 630,000 in Vermont.
In the Electoral College system, a state gets the same number of delegates as their congressional representatives plus two for each senator. So Texas has 38 electoral votes. Vermont has three. But this combination makes the number of people that each delegate represents way different between various states. In Texas, for example, one electoral delegate represents three times the amount of people as one in Vermont. So in detail, one electoral vote represents 664,000 people whereas in Vermont one electoral vote represents 210,000 people. And that makes each individual person’s vote in Vermont a lot more influential. The Electoral College creates discrepancies like this all the time over the entire country. For instance, the voter in Wyoming is worth 3½ times as much as a voter in here in my home state of California. And the winner in the presidential election is the candidate who gets 270 of these electoral votes. Thanks to the intensity of the Biden-Trump race, I think everyone around the world is now familiar with this 270 number. Other than gerrymandering and districting aside, a corrupt monster when it comes to picking congressional representatives, we have relative democracy in electing a president at the state level which means the candidate who gets the most votes within a state gets the assigned electoral votes of that state. As such, even if you win by 1%, you still get 100% of the electoral votes of that state.
In 2016, around 4.5 million people voted for Trump in California. In fact, more people voted for him in the super liberal state of California than any other state except for two: Texas and Florida. But that didn’t matter. Because in California, almost 8.8 million people voted for Hillary Clinton. Consequently, she got all 55 of California electoral votes. Clinton didn’t even campaign in California. Likewise, Trump only visited super conservative state of Texas once. He knew he had that state’s electoral votes bagged just as did Hillary with California. But both of them visited Florida over 35 times! That’s because Florida is usually a swing state, AKA a battleground state. Trump won Florida by only 113,000 votes.
Swing states have changed over time depending on shifting demographics and political views and in states like these, presidential candidates spend most of their time. This also means these states have disproportional influence on the elections. A study found that voters in Michigan had 51 times the amount of influence in the 2016 election than someone from the state of Utah. Voters in states like California or Missouri mattered very little. Swing states are actually where the elections take place. They get the attention and the influence. For example, $127 million was spent in 2016 in Florida alone. It doesn’t seem fair at all, does it? That’s because it’s not!
But the Electoral College has always shifted power away from some people and towards others because that is exactly how it was designed to be. Back then when there were just a few states, it was required to get all the states to agree on a constitution. One problem: The northern states which were largely anti-slavery wanted only free people accounted in the electoral votes which they had more of which were mostly white free people. The pro-slavery southern states worried that they would be constantly out-voted. Ironically, they wanted enslaved people to be counted as determining the population. Here were the northern states: New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont. The southern states were as follows: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, and New Jersey. Together, these are what we call, “The Original Thirteen Colonies” which became known later as the United States of America.
Anyway, as a compromise between North and South, they settled on what they called, “The Three-Fifth Clause”, which established that an enslaved person can only count as three-fifth of a person, a deplorable concept that even in its own time was loathed by abolitionists everywhere. It was dehumanizing in its own merit. In the year 1800, the northern state of Pennsylvania and the southern state of Virginia had approximately the same number of free people, with Virginia around 530,000 and Pennsylvania around 601,000. But Virginia was also home to hundreds of thousands of enslaved people which was around 347,000. Pennsylvania had only 1,700. The enslaved people in Virginia had no freedom let alone a vote of three-fifths of a person. But they ended up with more votes in the Electoral College system. Virginia had 21 votes and Pennsylvania had 15. In that year, 1800, those extra electoral votes gave a certain candidate from Virginia enough electoral votes to win. That candidate was none other than the great Thomas Jefferson, one of the original founding fathers and the author of one of our most cherished revolutionary documents known as, “The Declaration of Independence” which proclaimed our independence from Great Britain and setting in motion the consequent revolutionary wars.
Many decades later in 1870, the US finally abolished the despicable institution of slavery as a whole once and for all. This was enshrined in our 15th Amendment which eventually gave the Black-Americans the right to vote. This manifested 30 years later in the year 1900. It was called, “The Grandfather Clause”. But white southern leaders found ways to keep the Black-Americans from voting in what they called. “Literacy Tests” with totally discriminating laws called, “The Poll Taxes”, accompanied by savage acts of white mob violence! This was one in a series of voter suppressions to follow. It meant the whites continued to have over-representation in the Electoral College system on behalf of a large population that in essence wasn’t allowed to vote based on racist technicalities.
At any rate, the first time that congress attempted to replace the Electoral College system with a simple popular vote was, believe it or not, as early as 1816. But senators from southern states blocked this move by saying, “It would be deeply injurious to us.” That was the exact statement by Georgia Senator William Wyatt Bibb.
In 1969, Congress came even closer when replacing the Electoral College had the support of both parties. That year, the votes against Electoral College was 338 which even passed in the House of Representatives. But it was blocked again by southern senators. Senator James Allen from Alabama wrote [in the same year 1969], “The Electoral College is one of the South’s few remaining political safeguards. Let’s keep it.” Why change a system that historically was benefiting southerners? That was the mindset as recent as 1969!
Today, the states that the Electoral College originally benefited the most, those having been Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey have changed to Alabama, Vermont, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, and still New Jersey (2020), making voters in one state more powerful than others. If we look at states with a lot of electoral votes in 2020, as I just listed for you, the population is significantly lower there. But the states with little electoral votes and yet a lot more inhabitants such as New York, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, and North Carolina, the other aforementioned states are a whole lot more whiter and less diverse than the rest of America. Any many of these states are Republican strongholds, i.e. the red states. The states with more diverse populations tend to vote Democratic, i.e. the blue states. That’s one reason the two most recent Republican presidents, Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2016, won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote! Al Gore won by more than 500,000 votes and Hillary Clinton by over 3.5 million popular votes. And this year, Joe Biden by over seven million votes!
However, this year aside, since it’s usually Democrats who are primarily disadvantaged by the electoral college system, they are the ones leading the charge to replaced it with a popular vote system like the rest of the civilized world! According to Gallup Poll, 81% of Democrats are for popular vote while only 23% of Republicans were for it in the 2020 election.
But as politics and demographics continue to change, the people most critical of the Electoral College have changed too. In the 1948 presidential election between Harry S. Truman (Democrat) and Thomas Dewey (Republican) and Strom Thurmond, New York ended up becoming a major swing state. In 1950, a Republican Congressman from Texas named Ed Gossett stated, “I have no objection to the Negro in Harlem voting. But I do resent the fact that his vote is worth a hundred times as much as the vote of a white man in Texas.”
But swing states also change. What unfortunately doesn’t change is that this antiquated and disproportional Electoral College system gives certain people more the power to pick a president than others and this is simply insane. Its biggest defendants have always been those who benefited and continue to benefit from it today, that being the Republicans.