In an opinion piece published on Monday, The New York Times editorial board called for an end to the Electoral College.
The Electoral College has been scrutinized for years, but the frustration with the system came to a head after this year’s election, which resulted in a Donald Trump victory despite Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.
The Times editorial board cites polls that show the majority of Americans share their frustration with what they call “the antiquated mechanism of the Electoral College.” The board then goes on to explain exactly what is so problematic about the Electoral College, which they refer to as “a living symbol of America’s original sin.”
The problem with the Electoral College is that it was originally set up to give slave states more electoral votes by counting the votes of slaves as equal to three-fifths of a white person’s vote.
‘When slavery was the law of the land, a direct popular vote would have disadvantaged the Southern states, with their large disenfranchised populations. Counting those men and women as three-fifths of a white person, as the Constitution originally did, gave the slave states more electoral votes.’
The Electoral College favors smaller states over larger ones now. The Times cites as an example the comparison between Wyoming and Colorado. According to the rules of the Electoral College, a Wyoming resident’s vote has 3.6 times as much weight as a California resident’s. Due to the fact that most states have a “winner-take-all system,” the college also functions so that the election really comes down to around a dozen “battleground states,” which results in the votes of tens of millions of Americans effectively not counting.
In addition to expressing their frustration with the current system, the editorial board also points out the fact that a solution exists, an agreement known as the National Popular Vote interstate compact. As The Times explains, “the Constitution establishes the existence of electors, but leaves it up to states to tell them how to vote,” ensuring that the winner of the national popular vote will become president.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia, which represent 165 electoral votes, have already passed legislation that aligns with this agreement.
As The Times points out, there are obvious opponents to this agreement, namely conservatives who say that heavily Democratic cities and states would have an unfair advantage. The Times also asks an important question, though, in response to this argument.
‘Why should the votes of Americans in California or New York count for less than those in Idaho or Texas? A direct popular vote would treat all Americans equally, no matter where they live — including, by the way, Republicans in San Francisco and Democrats in Corpus Christi, whose votes are currently worthless.’
There seems to be nothing to do, at this point, to prevent Donald Trump from entering the White House in January. The Times readily admits that he won the election fairly. However, they also argue that “the rules should change so that a presidential election reflects the will of Americans and promotes a more participatory democracy.”
The Electoral College voted Trump into office on Dec. 19, as was expected. However, the efforts of “Hamilton Electors” from across the country to change the rules did not go unnoticed, and a change in the future seems to be much more of a possibility than it once was.
Featured image via Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.