To the voters saying their vote didn’t count or calling for the repeal the Electoral College:
The United States is what is known as a “representative democracy“, a democracy one where a “group of officials represent a group of people or constituents”. In the US this translates to our US Senators and US Representatives. The United States is not, and never have been, a “true” democracy.
Our system of government is constructed of a series of checks and balances; we’ve heard that phrase all our life, usually in the context of Congress, the Presidency and the Supreme Court. However, this is not the only check and balance built into our system of government. Our Congress also consists of a check and balance system.
Every state has 2 US Senators regardless of population. The residents of Wyoming (586,000) have the same representation in the US Senate as the residents of California (39 million). The US House of Representatives is different. Each state receives a proportional number of the 435 Representatives (435 is fixed by law), with the caveat that each state receives at least 1 Representative. The remaining 385 representatives (435 – 50 states) are divided amongst each state based on population Who determines how many additional Representatives each state receives? The results of the US Census which is conducted every 10 years!
These 535 individuals in our representative democracy (100 Senators + 435 voting Representatives, ignoring 6 extras)translates to the numbers assigned in the Electoral College. This is one side of the checks and balances system, provides 53 Representatives to California (those 39 million people) versus the 1 Representative for Wyoming (586k people). Because there are more residents in California they get a bigger voice in the House of Representatives via their 53 Representatives and thus a bigger voice in the Electoral College. Do you see the symmetry between the two systems? The US Senate provides the same representation per state while the House provides more or less voices based on population density, and the Electoral College mirrors those same to representative institutions.
When you look at the Election Map used by all the news channels, the number shown on each state is the number of electoral college votes each state receives, made up of the number of US Senators + US Representatives allocated to each state. Again, all of the voters of each state funnel their total vote to their voice in the Electoral College (as they do the House & Senate) and that is their “representation” in the election for US President.
Why does this check & balance exist? Throughout history the needs of the majority of city residents overwhelms the voice of the rural residents. Are you familiar with:
- This phrase “Fly Over Country” Does it ring a bell? The description of many people on the east and west coast describing their flight between the “important” cities on the coasts; those major population centers, along with Chicago. I cringe every time hear someone say they are crossing “fly over country”. That area of our country is our breadbasket of, all that land devoted to growing wheat, corn, other grains, not to mention cows, hogs and other livestock, all of which appears in our grocery stores!
- What about those farmers in California that squander water raising crops? The populist solution recently enacted (the voices of the city dwellers drowning out the much smaller number of farmers) was to divert the water from those wasteful farmers to consumers elsewhere. Never mind that farmers in California produce 2/3rds of the US fruits and nuts and 1/3rd of US vegetables. Not very wasteful to me. Personally, I like having fresh produce to eat year round, most of which is grown in the US.
Our system of checks and balances, at least on a Federal level, are supposed to provide a representative number of voices to each region, helping to minimize the conflict over limited resources, such as the one California is currently experiencing. At the end of the day our representative democracy tries to balance the needs of the heavily populated cities against the needs of the rural dwellers, and it does this by implementing balanced representation.
Please do not pile onto the every 4 year bandwagon calling for the dismantling of the Electoral College. To dismantle the Electoral College is to dismantle our entire system of democracy!