Blaming the system: was the Electoral College at fault?

To anybody looking at the U.S. election results, one fact stands out: Hillary Clinton is on track to receive more votes across the country than Donald Trump, but Trump is the President-elect. What gives?

It’s all down to a system known as the ‘Electoral College’. Rather than totalling up the popular vote across America, each of the 50 states (plus Washington D.C.) gets allocated a number of ‘electoral votes’ based on total population, with the total being 538.

If a candidate wins a state, they get all of those electoral votes, and they need 270 in total to win. Each state gets at least 3, reflecting the minimum 1 representative in Congress and 2 Senators. So California (population 38.3m) has 55 electoral votes, and Wyoming (population 582,000) has 3. This is of course not representative; if Electoral Votes were distributed proportionally, Wyoming would have 1 vote and California 65.

Thus, if you just pile up votes in safe states like California but narrowly lose other Electoral Vote-rich states (as Clinton did) you can win the national vote whilst losing the Electoral College.

This system is, of course, nonsense. In the 1800s, in a fragile new democracy with people more attached to their state identity than being ‘American’ you can see why they built it this way.

But in the 21st century, America doesn’t need training wheels for its democracy. Votes cast in Wyoming shouldn’t be worth more than votes in California. The use of an outdated system must end. America should elect its President by nationwide popular vote.


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2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Blaming the system: was the Electoral College at fault?”

  1. I propose a new title for this article: “I don’t agree with the outcome so the system is wrong”.

December 2021
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