author: mariam dini | contributor
The United States claims to be a democratic country: I beg to differ, and the 2016 presidential election is one of the many reasons why. It has proven that a direct election – electing presidents by the national popular vote – is a myth in the United States, which is absurd. In the United States, it is Electoral College electors decide who becomes a president and who doesn’t.
If you haven’t heard of the Electoral College, please bear with me while I attempt to explain it in a few sentences. The Electoral College is not a place, it’s a process that was established back in forever ago, and it was designed to prevent a democratic catastrophe, the kind of a catastrophe they have managed to cause by electing Donald Trump for the presidency instead of Hillary Clinton. What the Electoral College was meant to do is what professor Garret Epps wrote in The Atlantic: “The Electoral College wasn’t meant to overturn elections, electors were intended to be faceless hacks whose independent exercise of judgment was neither wanted nor permitted.” The Electoral College consists of 538 electors, and those people are the ones who decide who becomes a president.
In the last 16 years, the Electoral College electors failed twice at the whole democracy thing. First, Al Gore lost the election to Bush in 2000, even though he was leading by half a million votes in the popular vote. Second, Hilary Clinton lost the election to Trump in 2016, even though she was leading by 1.69 million votes. They failed twice in five elections, a 40 per cent failure rate. Wait, let’s consider how many times the Electoral College failed in all 58 presidential elections. It is six times – six times out of 58; that’s a 10.3 per cent failure rate, which is still ridiculously high.
Senator Bernie Sanders was asked by Dana Bash in an interview on CNN if the United States should re-examine the Electoral College.
He said, “We have one candidate who got two million more votes than the other candidate, and she’s not going to be sworn in as president…that’s a little bit weird.”
It’s true. It is weird; it is downright strange. Senator Sanders is not the only Democrat or the only American that is calling for a change in the Electoral College system. Many agree that it is time for the Electoral College to go, and it is time for the United States to elect presidents the same way they elect senators, members of Congress, governors, and mayors. Hundreds of thousands have come together to sign petitions that sway the opinion of the Electoral College before they cast their vote on Dec. 19 this year. Unfortunately, many states punish Electoral College electors by law if electors vote against their party.
I personally do not believe that the petitions will make a difference in the 2016 presidential election, but maybe it will raise awareness, finally get rid of the electoral college, and be the reason for the change in the future of the United States presidential elections.