Voting in the United States

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Introduction

The US electoral system has more than two centuries of history, and its features are often the subject of criticism due to an ambiguous algorithm for counting votes and determining winners in presidential races. In particular, the Electoral College, which is a stand-alone board, is associated with questions about the legitimacy and validity of its involvement. A group of decision-makers representing the interests of individual states issue an independent verdict and can directly influence voting outcomes. Despite some advantages of this principle, its application in the modern US voting system is associated with rather negative than positive features, and the results of the elections in the 21st century confirm this ambiguity.

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Disadvantages of the Electoral College

One of the main reasons to argue against the Electoral College in the current voting approach is the predominance of decision-makers over the popular vote. Wright and Wright note that the results of the 2016 elections prove the failure of this system because, despite the democratic victory of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump became president due to the votes of the College (81). This argument is weighty and confirms the fact that the decision of the country’s people is not a key argument and cannot influence the outcomes of presidential races unambiguously. Steadman also draws attention to the role of the Electoral Board in swing states and remarks that with roughly the same number of votes, this board’s decision wins the will of the majority (71). As a result, people cannot count on their choice and are forced to entrust the decision to elect the US president to a group of people. This principle contradicts the basic foundations of democracy and is a relic of the classical order in which certain social classes dominated.

Another argument that is associated with the previous one is giving too much power to individual states in which votes for candidates are distributed approximately equally. According to Cervas and Grofman, voters in non-swing states see fewer campaign ads and are polled less frequently (263). As a result, swing states that may not necessarily represent the entire nation have too much electoral power. Steadman mentions the term “swing state bias” and notes that this gap is a strong argument to criticize the Electoral College in view of the empowerment of individual regions (126). The higher public scrutiny a particular state has, the higher is the likelihood that voting outcomes in it can determine the results of the entire presidential election campaign. In addition, the members of this body themselves may be biased towards the voting of these states’ citizens and make a verdict based on personal ideas guided by subjective motives. Thus, in the face of such an unfair distribution of powers, involving the Electoral College in elections is a biased decision.

The Electoral College’s involvement in the US electoral system makes people feel like their vote does not matter. For instance, Erikson et al. cite the voting of the Democratic Party’s supporters over the past 40 years and note that in the 2016 presidential election, the College’s percentage of votes was particularly high (27941). Such a breakdown indicates that even a high level of voter turnout is not a guarantee of a democratic decision. Murphy remarks that, in accordance with the principle of political equity, one citizen has the right to one vote, but the involvement of the Electoral College contradicts this rule (64). A group of responsible persons makes an independent decision that may run counter to the general public opinion and, moreover, influence election results directly. Therefore, for the current American voting system, the democratic principle of counting votes without third-party decisions is the only correct and honest one.

Alternative Position

As an alternative stance in favor of maintaining The Electoral College, one can argue that engaging this board promotes equitable regional representation. For instance, Steadman classifies the states of the country in accordance with various criteria, including not only political but also geographic characteristics (59). Nevertheless, this rationale is not a weighty argument for the reason that the democratic principle of elections is the only acceptable form of the popular vote. In other words, the organization of an election campaign by giving every citizen the right to express an individual position and taking it into account can be ensured without creating a competitive environment. Cumulative vote counting is a simple yet honest strategy to avoid bias and subjectivity that can manifest themselves within a small group of people. Thus, the Electoral College should be abolished as a board that hinders a legitimate and equal presidential election system.

Conclusion

Engaging the Electoral College in the modern US electoral system is associated with a number of ambiguities and more negative than positive implications. The prevalence over the choice of the population, too much power in swing states, and the deprivation of the right to consider every vote are the most obvious factors explaining this position. Alternatively, there is a version that this board puts all the states of the country on an equal footing, regardless of their size or political preferences. However, as practice shows, the result is often the opposite, and the election of the president based on the decision of the Electoral College is contrary to the foundations of democracy.

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Annotated Bibliography

Cervas, Jonathan R., and Bernard Grofman. “Why Noncompetitive States Are So Important for Understanding the Outcomes of Competitive Elections: The Electoral College 1868-2016.” Public Choice, vol. 173, no. 3, 2017, pp. 251-265.

The article by Cervas and Grofman offers to assess the complex and controversial electoral system in the United States through the prism of the role of the Electoral College. The authors note that, despite the individual benefits of this board, its work is characterized by the disproportionate empowerment of individual states (Cervas and Grofman 263). As a justification, election results are presented since 1868, and the number of cases in which the Electoral College’s decision was key is utilized as the evidence variable. This resource is useful from the perspective of a comprehensive evaluation of election results in American history and covers a wide time range, which increases the credibility of the research.

Erikson, Robert S., et al. “Electoral College Bias and the 2020 Presidential Election.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117, no. 45, 2020, pp. 27940-27944.

In their study, Erikson et al. focus on the problem of bias in the American electoral system and, in particular, draw attention to the unfairness of the decision to involve the Electoral College. As a rationale, the researchers assess the results of the 2016 elections and note that “bias was slimmer in the past and not always favoring the Republican candidate” (Erikson et al. 27940). Numerous visual graphs allow obtaining a comprehensive picture of the issue described in the article and facilitate the perception of statistical calculations. The value of the study lies in an opportunity to assess the results of the 2016 elections in detail and identify the negative aspects of engaging the Electoral College.

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Murphy, Erin E. “The Winner Takes All and Will Never Give It up: The US Supreme Court Must Protect Voters from the Electoral College.” Law Journal, vol. 71, 2020, pp. 61-81.

Murphy criticizes the existing principle of American voting and emphasizes the unreasonable use of the Electoral College as a board that is engaged in the initially democratic procedure, thus violating the basic principles of democracy. The author expresses a specific position unambiguously and notes that the current system “produces undemocratic results” and “is unconstitutional” (Murphy 63). One of the main reasons for this position is the belief that this board supports the ruling party and is negatively opposed to potentially positive changes. This article can be useful as a study that provides numerous references to legal resources, court trials, and constitutional norms and amendments.

Steadman, Liam. Complications with the Political Development of the Electoral College. 2019. Johns Hopkins U, MA thesis.

The thesis by Steadman is another resource that criticizes the foundations of the US voting system largely based on the Electoral College as an authoritative board. The author makes arguments based on the historical background of the development of democracy in the country. As the main proposal, Steadman states that the Electoral College “must be replaced with the direct popular vote via constitutional amendment” (ii). The arguments are supported by references to both secondary and primary sources, and a series of visual graphs and charts reflect the overall picture of the US voting history. As part of research on the role of the Electoral College, this thesis can be used as a resource to support an initiative to abandon the current principle to achieve a fairer and unbiased vote.

Wright, Fred A., and Alec A. Wright. “How Surprising Was Trump’s Victory? Evaluations of the 2016 US Presidential Election and a New Poll Aggregation Model.” Electoral Studies, vol. 54, 2018, pp. 81-89.

The study by Wright and Wright evaluates the 2016 election from the perspective of involving the Electoral College. According to the authors, based on the analysis of the work of this board preliminary, the victory of Donald Trump, the former president, was estimated at 46% (Wright and Wright 81). However, the results were different, and during that election campaign, the Electoral College demonstrated its authority and dominance. An in-depth analysis of the distribution of votes by utilizing schematic graphs makes it possible to highlight the main ambiguities, in particular, the unexpected loss of Hillary Clinton. The study is a handy source to explore the nuances of the 2016 election campaign and draw conclusions about the reassessment of the Electoral College’s role in the American voting system.

Works Cited

Cervas, Jonathan R., and Bernard Grofman. “Why Noncompetitive States Are So Important for Understanding the Outcomes of Competitive Elections: The Electoral College 1868–2016.” Public Choice, vol. 173, no. 3, 2017, pp. 251-265.

Erikson, Robert S., et al. “Electoral College Bias and the 2020 Presidential Election.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117, no. 45, 2020, pp. 27940-27944.

Murphy, Erin E. “The Winner Takes All and Will Never Give It up: The US Supreme Court Must Protect Voters from the Electoral College.” Law Journal, vol. 71, 2020, pp. 61-81.

Steadman, Liam. Complications with the Political Development of the Electoral College. 2019. Johns Hopkins U, MA thesis.

Wright, Fred A., and Alec A. Wright. “How Surprising Was Trump’s Victory? Evaluations of the 2016 US Presidential Election and a New Poll Aggregation Model.” Electoral Studies, vol. 54, 2018, pp. 81-89.

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DemoEssays. 2022. "Voting in the United States." September 28, 2022. https://demoessays.com/voting-in-the-united-states/.

1. DemoEssays. "Voting in the United States." September 28, 2022. https://demoessays.com/voting-in-the-united-states/.


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DemoEssays. "Voting in the United States." September 28, 2022. https://demoessays.com/voting-in-the-united-states/.