Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Book of Matthew: Electoral college is ‘waste of time’

Published: November 2, 2007
Section: Opinions

When the Founding Fathers of our country wrote the Constitution, they called for the creation of an Electoral College to choose the president every four years. This probably wasnt a bad idea in 1787, but times have changed since then and a Constitutional amendment is long overdue. We Americans can and should be able to choose our leaders without the aid of a higher body of electors.

The balance of power between states and the federal government was a matter of great importance in the early years of our nations history. It was thought that if the people chose Congress and the states chose the president, the system would be fair to all. Of course, there was also a practical reason for this. During the 18th century, it was quite difficult for presidential candidates to campaign directly to the people. Most Americans at the time were uneducated farmers, and most candidates were unwilling to take long, dangerous horse-and-buggy trips out to see those farmers.

It is true that members of the Electoral College only vote based on the popular election in their state, creating a winner-take-all-system. One may wonder how this can be a bad thing, claiming that the decision of the College follows the will of the people. However, in the controversial election of 2000, George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore, but became president when the Supreme Court declared him the winner of the Florida electoral votes. This was not fair to the American voters, because they were forced to accept a president that the majority did not choose.

To be honest, though, my main issue with the Electoral College has nothing to do with past election results. In a time when barely 50% of registered voters actually vote, part of the blame falls on the College. An excellent example of this can be found in Massachusetts, a state whose electorate is likely to vote Democrat in the coming election. Voters who live in the state know this, and are less likely to take the time to vote when they believe the outcome is assured anyway. However, if the presidential race were to be decided by a nationwide popular vote, there would not be this problem. Democrats and Republicans in blue and red states would vote in greater numbers because their vote would be guaranteed to help their chosen candidate.

I doubt anything will change in time for this coming election, but hopefully changes can be made for the future. The Electoral College is a waste of time. We only accept it when it agrees with the popular vote, but feel cheated when the two disagree. Whats the point of keeping it?