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National Popular Vote vs. Electoral College

National Popular Vote vs. Electoral College

The Electoral College, as provided for in the U.S. constitution, determines the U.S. president based on the vote totals in each state. The candidate who receives the majority of the electoral votes wins the presidency. However, this system is flawed since a majority of the American voters exercise no real political voice in the outcome of the presidential elections. The Electoral College should be abolished in favor of single national popular vote where all votes count equally.

Political equality is the fundamental principle to the theory of democratic governance since it promotes the idea that every citizen’s voice or view should count as anyone else’s.  However, four out of five Americans exercised no real electoral voice in the 2012 presidential elections due to the Winner-take-all Electoral College system.  The winner-take-all system makes presidential campaigns to focus on a handful of “battleground” states, thus undermining the value of people in the non-competitive sates in determining the outcome of the elections. In 2012, the election campaigns were concentrated in 12 states that were deemed ‘battleground’ since the outcome in other states was obvious. In 2016, two thirds (273 of 399) of the presidential campaigns were also concentrated in just six states that were essential in determining the outcome of the elections (Balz par. 9).  In 2020, it is projected that the election campaigns will be concentrated in four battleground states.

Eliminating the Electoral College would serve a vital role in empowering all voters, which would, in turn, promote higher voter registration and voting rates that focus on issues in the presidential elections. The Electoral system also renders voters electoral powerless when none of the candidates wins the majority electoral votes; the fate of presidency is left in the hands of the U.S. House of Representatives (Drake 685). The right to determine the presidential outcomes is taken away from the individual American voters.

Enactment of the National Popular Vote interstate compact is more popular than the Electoral College system since it guarantees that every voter matters in every presidential election. This system of election would accentuate the theory of democracy, where every view and opinion counts. The election campaigns would stop being concentrated in the so called ‘battleground’ and extend into all states since they will all have a say in the outcome of the elections. 

Enacting the National Popular Vote interstate compact is possible since the Electoral College itself is not in the U.S. constitution.  The Electoral College was never debated in the Constitutional Convention, and hence its abolishment or introduction of the National Popular Vote interstate compact would not require a constitutional amendment (Balz par. 15). The states should enact the National Popular Vote interstate compact in the same way they enacted the Electoral College as provided in Article II of the U.S. Constitution.  Under Article II of the Constitution, states are provided with the authority to award their electors in the way they see fit. 

Briefly, enactment of the National Popular Vote interstate compact would serve a vital role in ensuring that every vote counts, and the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all states wins the election. The popular vote will uphold the theory of democracy by allowing all votes to count equally during the presidential elections.  The popular vote would also make battleground states obsolete, and candidates would concentrate on winning the most votes nationwide.

Works Cited

Balz, Dan. Just Four States are Likely to Determine the Outcome of 2020 Presidential Race, Washington Post,

Drake, Ian J. “Federal roadblocks: The Constitution and the national popular vote interstate compact.” Publius: The Journal of Federalism 44.4 (2013): 681-701.

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