How American Democracy Can Be More Democratic

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (Compact hereafter) should replace the electoral college in America to ensure every vote counts. The debate on the electoral college was pertinent in the 2020 election because even when the number of votes for leader of the Democrat party Joe Biden overtook the number of votes for President Donald Trump, it still remained unclear for days who the electoral college winner would be. Eventually, it was declared the president-elect would be Biden, who is both the popular vote and electoral college vote winner (which takes place formally in December). However, there should have been no avenue for minority rule through the electoral college if there is a popular vote winner.

As Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said, “Every vote matters. And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means getting rid of the electoral college. Similarly, Democrat Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said she is open to the idea of abolishing the electoral college.

Currently, the electoral college favours the Republican party and so most Republicans are not in favour of the Compact. As Republican Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas tweeted, “Politicians would only campaign (and listen to) urban areas.”

However, the Republicans advocating for the Compact have formed the Conservatives for Yes on National Popular Vote group. Dennis Lennox, the campaign manager for the group, supports the Compact because currently Americans “don’t elect a president of the United States. We elect a president of the battleground states under the current method.”

There are three reasons why the Compact should be preferred over the electoral college. First, it promotes democracy by ensuring every vote counts because the Compact does not disproportionately focus on battleground states. This means states which are considered “safe” wins will not be ignored like they are under the electoral college system. Second, the electoral college is a winner-takes-all delegates system (other than in two states) regardless of how wide or narrow the margin of victory may be. This ignores millions of votes which would not occur under the Compact system. Finally, the Compact is a viable method for ensuring every vote counts, unlike a Constitutional amendment which would require agreement from two-thirds of the House of Representatives, two-thirds of the Senate, and three-quarters of the states. This is significant because 61% of Americans would want to abolish the electoral college and this is achievable under the Compact system.

The electoral college was created as a compromise with Southern states who wanted African American slaves to count as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of apportioning representatives and electors. The continuing impact has been the devaluation of urban voters who are more likely to be non-white while disproportionately inflating the influence of rural counties. The devaluation of votes is most severe when American elections are won by candidates who have not won the popular vote which has happened five times. The most current being the 2016 election when President Trump lost the popular vote by about three million votes to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but won the presidency.

The Compact was created by John Koza, a computer science professor at Stanford University to address the shortcomings of the electoral college without abolishing it. The Compact would work by states giving their electoral college votes to the popular vote winner. A bill on the National Popular Vote has been passed by 15 states and the District of Columbia representing 196 electoral college votes. The latest being Colorado which voted for it during the 2020 election cycle. The bill would go into effect when states representing the majority of electoral college votes, 270 at the moment, adopt the Compact.

When election day drew near in 2020, major cities started to board up due to fears of riots and unrest. This is in part because there is a lack of trust in the democratic process. By adopting the Compact, America can rebuild trust in their democracy because voters would be ensured their vote counts. Furthermore, states would not be painted as either red or blue, they would be seen for the purple melange they really are. As the Compact promises, “Every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.”

Angie Singh
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