Electoral College sees mixed opinions
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
The Electoral College has been controversial since its inception, according to political science professor Matthew Kerbel.
Kerbel, the chair of the Political Science Department at Villanova University, stated in an email message that people have always tried to modify the Electoral College because they believe the president should be elected by the popular vote. He said some have tried to abolish the process, but it is unlikely to happen.
“It requires a Constitutional amendment, which in turn requires broad political support,” Kerbel said. “And since changing the rules of any game invariably changes the likely winners and losers, it’s not as easy to do as you might think.”
The Founding Fathers created the Electoral College to ensure that an elite group of electors could choose the best candidate to be president, he said.
According to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, the Electoral College is located under Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution. The Electoral College allots 538 electoral votes throughout the country, of which the presidential candidate needs 270 to win. The number of votes per state is proportional to the number of Congressional representatives each state has in Congress.
The amount of representatives each state has in Congress is based on the size of the state’s population, so it can change over time. The five states with the most electoral votes are California with 55, Texas with 38, New York and Florida with 29 and Pennsylvania and Illinois with 20, according to The New York Times Electoral Map.
The majority of states, with the exceptions of Maine and Nebreska, use a “winner-takes-all” format in the Electoral College, meaning if one candidate garners the majority of the vote, he or she will receive the state’s electoral votes.
Kerbel said the Electoral College can make the election a “series of several highly targeted state races” rather than a national race. He said the voters in states which will vote either way are the ones that will play the biggest part in the upcoming election.
“If you live in Ohio right now, you’re being showered with attention by the major candidates, because Ohio has emerged as one of the key states, if not the key state, that will determine the outcome,” Kerbel said.
However, he said everyone’s vote counts. Freshman Kevin Miller said he thinks individual votes still matter to an extent but some votes have more impact than others in some states. He said the minority party’s votes tend to count less.
“I think it should be based on [the popular vote] but I don’t think it ever will be,” Miller said.
Lawrence Butler, associate dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Rowan University, said he thinks the Electoral College is a minor contributor to why Americans might feel as though their votes do not count.
“You can also say that about main offices in states, where the office is strongly partisan, whether it be Senate or some other position,” Butler said. “It is the nature of a competitive Electoral College.”
Butler said he does not foresee any changes being made to the election process because the Electoral College is a part of the Constitution and would require an amendment in order to be changed.
Junior Allie Kulig said she thinks much of the general public do not have a complete understanding of the Electoral College.