The U.S. Electoral College
The U.S. remains the single developed country across the globe where the citizenry cannot vote for the president directly. The Electoral College refers to the institution, which legitimately elects the American President as well as the Vice President. Thus, the electors and not the voters elect these individuals directly. A state-by-state basis is used to choose the electors through popular vote. Electors are then apportioned to every state as well as the Columbia District with the exception of Guam and Puerto Rico as the American territorial possessions.
There are exactly 538 electors in total representing 435 Representative and 100 senators plus three extra electors hailing from Columbia District. The candidate that gets 270 or more electoral votes wins the U.S. Presidency. During the 2000, 1888, 1876 and 1824 elections, the presidential election winner could not get majority popular vote. The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives decide the election by choosing the President. The major caveat with this is that it may render the nationwide popular vote irrelevant and thus violating the political equity doctrine.
Critics contend that this system is essentially undemocratic. The swing states have disproportionate influence during the elections. The mooting of constitutional amendments with the intent of either replacing the Electoral College with a direct vote or altering it demonstrates this authentic concern. This system only permits the demarcation of the country into battleground or swing states. This disfranchises voters. However, to abolish the Electoral College, amendment of the Constitution is necessary. Unfortunately, this is unlikely and thus it is important to examine legal avenues that can make it reflect the people’s popular vote. Towards this end, the Electoral College’s undemocratic nature can be removed apparently without the need for constitutional amendment.
The January 2010 Citizen United judgment by the U.S. Supreme Court should be overturned. This will curtail the new unchecked power bestowed on the Congress to spend on political speeches to avert abuse. Moreover, it is important to cut down public funding for political campaigns that are inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution. Citizen financing for political campaigns can be secured through legislative processes that do not need constitutional amendments. Again, there should be clean elections where candidates only use a fixed amount of funds from the government to conduct their conducts after qualification through collection of meager dollar contributions. Presidential candidates should also disclose the source of their campaign money usually directed in swing states due to the role of the Electoral College in winning elections through saturated television adverts, campaign visits and get-out-to-vote frantic efforts.
The one-person-one-vote principle can be restored without changing the Constitution. The interstate compact will involve individual states agreeing to guarantee their electors to the one who wins the nationwide popular vote. This is predicated on Article II, Section 1 (2) of the U.S. Constitution and will circumvent the Electoral College since 270 or more electoral votes will be obtained. Already, eight states as well as the Columbia District have joined this interstate compact. This will dilute the effect of the Electoral College during Presidential elections. The representatives of the Electoral College from states that have majority electoral votes will be committed to vote in the presidential candidate who obtained a plurality under this system. When the Interstate Compact is approved is approved by the states with electoral votes summing up to 270 from the current 165, it will take effect. the Instant-Runoff-Voting (IRV) will enable voters rank the existing options. The candidate with the most votes wins the elections.
President Obama, Michael Arth, Senator McCain, Libertarian and Green parties as well as other groups are supporting the IRV. Under the system, Electoral College’s representatives from those states where there are majority votes will be committed to vote in the presidential candidate who achieved a majority after the IRV. This way, all presidential candidates will compete in the 50 states for votes and not just in the battleground or swing states that comprise less than 12 of the 50. The ‘Revolving Door’ that has allowed people to change jobs between government and industry should be closed to avert undue influence in the Electoral College. Legislators should also be proscribed from acting in a manner to benefit some industries through election contributions. This will regulate presidential campaign financing.