Why the Electoral College Will Continue to Suck

Electoral CollegeThe wonderful C. G. P. Grey has made a lot of great videos, but today it seems important to revisit The Trouble with the Electoral College. In this video, he shows that it is possible to win the electoral college vote by winning only 22% of the popular vote. Clearly, this is unlikely to happen. But we are all of us only too aware that someone can win the presidency without winning the popular vote.

Grey is right to think that the electoral college is bad and undemocratic. Our whole political system is undemocratic. Part of this is by design, because people in small states didn’t want the large states lording over them. But it is also due to the limited technology of the time, as discussed in How the Electoral College Works.

Regardless of how good a case can be made against the electoral college, it is unlikely that we will get rid of it. The problem is that moving to a popular vote would require a constitutional amendment. All it takes is one-quarter the states to block an amendment—13 of them. There are more than 13 states who benefit from this antiquated voting system. It might be possible to convince some of these people to go for a fairer system that would hurt them personally. But that’s unlikely.

Better would be to work to get money out of politics.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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