Red or blue, right or left, regardless, the past weeks have been hectic ones. The United States has decided on former Vice President Joe Biden as its President-elect, and both celebration and mourning alike have swept the country. Either way, preparations for a smooth transition of power are in progress. Personally, I just didn’t know how much more I could take of my dad posted in front of the TV with his arms crossed behind his back.
With the election cycle coming to a close, we reflect on the systems in place and the future of the democracy we live in. Let’s see what Green Hope has to say.
The Electoral College:
The current method for presidential elections in the United States is characterized by the electoral college. Each state is bestowed a certain number of electoral votes based on population size, and the first candidate to reach 270 electoral votes wins the election. Simple, but infamous. When anonymously asked for their thoughts, a majority of 84.2% of students do not support the electoral college, with 13.2% supporting and 2.6% indifferent. The reasons for these opinions vary.
Much of the support for the electoral college stems from the idea of letting rural areas and smaller states have their fair say in politics. The electoral college allows their votes to count and doesn’t let just the values of more populated areas decide for the country. This creates an election outcome more representative of the people.
“It protects smaller states.”
“Balances out the value of votes of urban areas and rural areas. Since people in an area tend to have similar beliefs those who live in urban areas, which tend to be more populated, will be the only ones whose votes matter”
“The popular vote would be subject to many other confounding variables due to areas and access to voting. The electoral college is effective in making it fair and representative of a state”
“The president doesn’t necessarily directly govern the people, but also governs and assists state legislatures, so the balance between popular vote and state vote is good.”
“If we don’t have an electoral college I feel like only Democratic presidents and government official’s will be nominated.”
“I am super liberal but I still feel this way because if the electoral college was abolished candidates would only focus on policies that benefit big cities.”
For the majority opposition to the electoral college, a system based on the popular vote would be preferable. The difference in the weight of a vote in a rural versus urban area is seen as unjust and undemocratic. Each citizen’s vote should instead be counted the same, and the electoral college is an outdated system that does not have a place in a modern democracy.
“I think that everyone’s votes should be counted and not land being counted, that way there is a better representation of the people.”
“I think that although it may have been necessary in the past, technology has advanced to the point that we do not need it anymore. I also think that it makes people feel as if their vote does not matter if they are in an area that is overwhelmingly leaning one side.”
“I feel that the electoral college is not representative of all the people. For example, one electoral vote represents about 192,919 people in Wyoming. However, one electoral vote in California represents about 718,181 people. This is a big difference. Essentially people in Wyoming have more value for their votes. Another reason is that US territories don’t get electoral votes either like Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has a large population but still gets no electoral votes.”
“I believe it’s an outdated system and many still do not fill out the census making many of the electoral values inaccurate.”
“I don’t like the electoral college because the population is constantly growing so some state’s numbers for electoral colleges should be raised.”
“It gives a disproportionate amount of power to states with smaller populations (typically rural), so that a candidate can win the popular vote and still not win the presidency. I think it takes power away from the people and voids the democratic process”
“it is not representative of the entire population and some votes are valued higher than other voters which does not contribute to democracy”
“It’s outdated, it worked when the country was new but the amount of people that can vote is so much larger now that it’s unnecessary”
“Why should someone in Nevada or Pennsylvania have a more important vote than someone in California or New York? The electoral college does not accurately represent the majority of Americans at all.”
“It has ALWAYS been made to suppress democracy. It works exactly the way it was designed to, which is to disenfranchise Americans. There’s no reason individual voters in Wyoming should have much more of an impact on the election than Californians.”
“Because sometimes people make uneducated decisions when it comes to voting which could sway a state’s Results, and then cause the electoral vote to go to the wrong candidate. Like for example here in North Carolina a bunch of 18-year-olds who voted for Trump as their personality trait are making an uneducated decision by voting for him, so obviously that is going to sway the electoral votes to end up going towards Trump. Let’s hope that Biden can Flip the state but what I’m trying to say is that a lot of these new voters and even older people are making super uneducated decisions which are currently favoring the electoral votes in trumps favor. So I don’t think that this is a fair system”
“It was made in the 1700s when it seemed highly unlikely that a two party system would exist. Now, with a two party system built into our nation, democracy works better without an electoral college.”
“cuz gerrymandering n gentrification”
“It doesn’t directly represent the people, it represents the wishes of a system created to suppresses the views of a American citizens”
“It’s a democracy so the president should be based on the majority of people voting for him, not land. It doesn’t make sense for one person’s vote to be worth 3.6x more than another person’s, yet it is.”
“The electoral votes are distributed unevenly for each state so people’s votes in some states are weighted more than others, especially in small states. So theoretically, a candidate could win with only 22% ish of the popular vote, which probably won’t happen, but should not even be a possibility.”
In a final compelling argument, one respondent expressed:
The Two-Party System:
Another factor of the US voting system is its bipartisan nature. The Republican and Democratic parties are the two major political parties in the United States and are the only two parties with a fighting chance to secure the presidential position. A majority of 76.3% of students do not support the current two-party system. 15.8% of students support it, while 7.9% are indifferent.
For those supporting the two-party system, concerns on dictatorships and single party countries exist. They believe that the current system prevents forced uniformity of policies and is the best possible way for democracy to function.
“If there weren’t 2 different sides than America would be almost like a dictatorship.”
“I think it is terrible however I don’t see how any other way would work.”
“With no parties it’s easy for a single party to emerge which is dangerous.”
For those that oppose the two-party system, much of the reasoning arises from voting party over policy. Voters are forced to choose candidates not based on where their values align, but where their vote won’t go to waste. Concerns were also expressed over the polarization and extremism that the two-party system results in.
“I think that it creates more differences between Americans and makes it harder for better candidates to get noticed if they aren’t republican or democratic even if they are the better choice.”
“Not everybody is represented, the both parties are right winged, just one is liberal and another one is more authoritarian. The leftists can never vote someone that represents them without making their vote go to waste”
“I think it is silly to cram yourself into a box, voting for someone just because they say that they are one of the two parties. I think people would do more research if they had to do their own research on people’s policies rather than just automatically voting for their party.”
“Bc of the two party system, there has been a lot of political polarization and extremism. We should give more power to important third parties like the green party”
“Most people don’t support either candidate, but are forced to vote one way in order to choose the lesser of two evils.”
“it leads to people associating with a party that has a name and not on the candidates beliefs, which can skew votes.”
“It should only be about who is the best person for the job. Two party politics complicates it too much and is so competitive that there is no progress. The party system also influences the decisions politicians make purely because they want to keep the support of the party and get re-elected, even if they know the position they are backing is wrong.”
“the democratic and the republican party have a literal monopoly over the united states. completely anti capitalist and anti democratic in my opinion”
“Third parties never have a chance and free thinkers are really never heard. It gives the illusion of choice when there’s next to none because regular Americans will continue to be controlled top 1%. Both parties will probably continue upholding systems that ruin our environment and hurt minority communities (eg the prison system).”
“I feel like it’s be much better if there was only congress with independent people so that rather than being supportive of a group, citizens could only support/not support the laws that are being passed”
“people won’t care about policies that much! very prone to vote blindly”
“Bipartisanship has created a stalemate of two radicalized agendas based off lobbying rather than rights or values”
“I think the two party system leads to a lot of settling and polarization on both sides. Not saying voting third party is the way to go, but if there were maybe more parties with more centralized views, we could get candidates both sides could somewhat agree upon, rather than voting with a party.”
“It makes America too divided where there is no way for a more central candidate to win. In order to gain the party’s support, the candidate has to be pretty extreme. Also, in elections, if a candidate is in the middle, he/she will be subject to criticism from both parties. Party system makes the government way too bipolar where they can’t agree on anything.”
“Forced to give up your own beliefs and vote for one of the two parties.”
“Corruption is easier and not everyone fits under Republican or Democrat”
“I have to choose the worse of two evil, though one is significantly worse”
Lastly, a number of students expressed support for a ranked-choice voting system. In one, citizens rank each candidate on their ballot from their first to the last choice. The outcome is then determined based on which candidate possesses the best rankings. This system allows for a greater variety of candidates to have a chance at winning the election and prevents candidates with similar values from splitting the vote. Ballotpedia explains the concept further here – https://ballotpedia.org/Ranked-choice_voting_(RCV).
“We should switch to the popular vote or at least used ranked choice voting”
“Should be changed to ranked choice voting instead of plurality to lessen the power of the two-party system.”
“change voting system to rank choice voting!”
“We should all be like Maine!! Ranked choice voting and a split electoral college ensures that the person people want in office gets voted in.”
As GHHS students, we are privileged to take part in a diverse community that is home to a variety of viewpoints and ideals. The US voting system, made up of the electoral college and two-party system, is one with both opposition and support. But no matter the stance, it is worth taking the effort to hear out all sides of these topics. Change cannot be advocated for properly without complete knowledge of the people and their beliefs. And nothing is gained by keeping to a box of one’s own views. Openness and compromise are what modern democracy should be characterized by, and are lessons from this election season I hope the readers of the GH Falcon reflect on.