The Electoral College system is a crucial part of American elections. It is basically made up of a group of representatives from every federal state that is given the responsibility for selecting the country’s vice president and president. Selection processes, functions, and responsibilities of the Electoral College are all found in the second article – 12th amendment – of the constitution.
How it works, how it affects candidates’ strategies, and whether it is a fair system of electing a president
In this system, all Electoral College members must mirror their state’s favored presidential candidate during the election process. However, they are still allowed to vote otherwise. It should be noted that the latter scenario is quite rare and almost never occurs. Besides this, the latter system only recognizes one as a formal president if that individual garners 270 votes or more. Failure to do so can lead the House of Representatives to carry out the Electoral College voters’ tasks of selecting the president.
Section 2, clause 2 of the constitution puts forward the requirements for each state’s Electoral College members. According to the law, each state must select representatives equaling their total number of senators and representatives. This implies that some states such as California have very high numbers of representatives while others such as North Dakota have very few electors.
It can be said that the essence of the Electoral College system is to ascertain that US elections are federal and not direct. This reflects the kind of government that operates in the country. If the United States was a nation without any federal states, then it could be more logical to place the presidential elections in the hands of the entire citizenry. However, because the US is a federation of many smaller states, then it makes sense to encompass this in its electoral system.
Presidential candidates often center their campaigns on the Electoral College rather than the entire population. This is because there are a number of states that have numerous electors in the Electoral College yet they may not favor a particular party. Consequently, once a candidate garners support from such a state, then that candidate has a high chance of winning.
This system of election is not fair. Firstly, candidates can dwell on the largest states alone during their campaigns and win with support from those states. This implies that they can overlook states without such characteristics and still win the elections. Since electors are expected to vote for those candidates that are favored in their states (even if the favored candidate won by a close call) then chances are that converse preferences will be ignored. Sometimes, the entire population may not magnanimously support a given presidential candidate and it would have been fairer if the Electoral College system considered these opinions instead of only siding with federal state winners.
Another reason why this system is unfair is that it does not motivate the citizenry to exercise their electoral duties. The citizens’ votes’ sole purpose is to direct electors, therefore, it does not matter if these votes are many or few. Percentages are more important than absolutes here.
The Electoral College system was designed to capture the very essence of the US i.e. its federations. However, history has shown that most candidates focus on swing states and this marginalizes the rest of the country.