Mary Harrison, staff writer
One day during my senior year of high school, last year, a book caught my eye as I walked into my school library. It was called “You Call This Democracy?” and from its red, white and blue cover, it was obviously talking about the United States. Intrigued, I checked out the book and read it over the course of several weeks.
Some of the author’s proposals, such as making Election Day a national holiday and allowing non-partisan commissions to redraw congressional districts, seemed like common sense. But others shocked me with blatant disregard for the design of our country as a representative democracy, or republic.
The United States was intentionally created to not be a pure democracy, and we should not consider becoming one anytime soon – or ever, really. Over the past 245 years, America has proven what our founders suspected: a republic does the best job of supplying a stable, free government.
In a state regulated solely by a democracy, the outcome of each election is based on majority rule, meaning whoever gets the most votes, wins, by however slim a margin. Our Constitution, however, established a process for electing the President through the Electoral College.
For those of us who slept through parts of government class (this is a judgment free zone), the Electoral College works like this: the people of each state really vote for Electors to represent their candidate at a meeting in December and the candidate who wins the majority, which is 270 or more of the total 538 votes, becomes President. The number of electors each state receives corresponds to the number of representatives they have in both the House and the Senate.
Since the 2016 election, the Electoral College has been increasingly attacked as undemocratic. However, it is essential to our republic’s stability. If the presidential election were somehow decided by the national popular vote, as many “anti-Electoral College activists” advocate for, the results of the election could depend on just a few populous cities or states.
The six most populous cities in the U.S. have a combined population of 21.1 million, over 6% of the entire U.S. population. Translate this to the number of voters and these cities alone could decide the results of a close election, like the election we had in 2016 and 2020.
Under the Electoral College, if a state does not want to be overlooked by candidates and does want to draw more campaign activity, they need only to begin leaning toward the opposing candidate, like how Georgia and Arizona turned “purple” during the last election cycle.
Without the Electoral College, however, sparsely populated areas of the country could not increase their influence over candidates without increasing their numbers – which would make them no longer sparsely populated. People would be required to change their geography to sway the presidency, which is not fair or democratic in the least.
Public servants are supposed to represent the needs of the people, regardless of where those people are located. Different geography or demography produces a variety of perspectives and needs that make the country better. Without the Electoral College functioning as the Founders intended, the US presidential election would be unrepresentative of citizens’ needs.
We are free to speak things people dislike, to worship or not worship in the way that we choose and to be free of government management in our daily decisions. The protection of these rights has allowed the goals of the constitution to be peacefully and democratically fulfilled.
Our democracy must remain representative to preserve these individual freedoms of all citizens, whether they are part of the majority or the minority. Eliminating the electoral college would jeopardize the democracy as a whole.