How do leaders gain power? It used to be that someone either took power through military might, birthright or it was thrust upon them from the masses for the sake of necessity. Today’s electoral processes vary from country to country, but the United States has what is almost universally considered to be the most unclear and vague methods of becoming President. This position, whether it may or may not be, is one of, if not the undisputed, most powerful positions on the planet. This election process utilizes two parts.
Firstly, there is the popular vote. Herein, most agree democracy is upheld. You vote for the candidate or party with which you best identify or, whom you believe will be the best for the country, or, in some cases, will do the least amount of damage to your personal life. With the popular vote, you matter. You speak only for yourself. No one speaks on your behalf. You and you alone are voting. If more agree with you than the opposition, your candidate is elected. Simple math with simple results. This should be the end, right? Far from it!
Then there is the electoral college. No, you cannot get a degree from it, nor can you find consensus as to its purpose or necessity. This group actually has more control because in the United States, and in the U. S. alone, they determine the president. This is because each state is worth votes which are equal to the number of representatives plus senators in Congress. This fact alone does not unbalance the equation of the weight of the popular vote. More people live in California, Texas and New York, thus these states have more representation in Congress and additionally, they are more valuable when determining which candidate will most likely win the election.
The crux of the issue is borne from the fact that a candidate needs merely to garner 51% of the popular vote in a state to earn every vote. This is true in 49 of the 50 states. Thus, a possible president could find themselves elected to the highest office without being voted as such by the majority of the country. In only one state, do we find a better representation of voting ratios. Maine uses what is called the proportional system. This method only awards a proportional percentage of it’s electoral votes. Therefore, if a candidate earns 51% of the votes, they receive only 51% of the state’s electoral value, rounded to the nearest whole. As Maine is only worth 3 electoral votes, it makes little difference in the actual election. If all states used this method, there would be a much more fair and balanced election.
So, will the United States change their system to reflect and address these concerns? Or will it continue to disregard honest and legitimate concerns in favor of tradition? It remains to be seen, but with the Trump presidency being one of the most highly contested in modern history, it seems only a natural and necessary step towards true legitimacy behind what should be a more unifying, patriotic activity. Confused? You’re not alone.