‘The Electoral College is no longer fit for purpose.’ Discuss (45 marks)


The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. There is disagreement over if the Electoral College is fit for purpose. Arguments such as the popular vote of the nation not electing the winner, as well as the over representation of smaller states, and the lacking representation of third parties. However arguments for the Electoral College being fit for purpose are lesser, such as the winner receiving the most Electoral College votes and the emphasis on swing states. Overall the Electoral College is no longer fit for purpose.

The popular vote is mainly used to forecast, and elect, the President. However under the Electoral College, the winner is not always guaranteed the majority of the popular vote. This is the case in 2016 when Hilary Clinton won 3,000,000 more votes than Donald Trump, with Hilary winning the popular vote with 48.2% to Trump’s 46.1%. However, Trump became the President due to the electoral system of first-past-the-post. This shows the flaws of the Electoral College as the candidate with more votes lost the election due to a winner-takes-all approach. This means that the President lacks in legitimacy (especially due to only a 54.7% turnout in 2016) as they haven’t received the majority, therefore holds power due to being elected by the lesser half of population, which is unrepresentative. Another case of the popular vote winner not receiving the presidency is in 2000, where Bush gained 47.9% of the popular vote, to Al Gore’s 48.8% with a 51.2% turnout. This caused controversy as Gore received more votes in total, yet still didn’t win, as well as recount issues in Florida. This means that the voter’s choice wasn’t elected as the President, showing that the result was partisan.  On the other hand, a strength of the popular vote does include that it is a quick and easy process which filters the popular vote and usually shows a clear winner out of all the candidates, such as with Obama in 2008 and 2012. Overall, the popular vote not electing the President in multiple cases shows that the Electoral College isn’t fit for purpose, as it causes the result to be unrepresentative of the nation’s votes, which is undemocratic.

The Electoral College is no longer fit for purpose due to over representing small states. The Electoral College allows each state to have a say in who becomes the next president, including smaller states such as Delaware and Montana that are usually bypassed. However small states with a much more noticeably smaller population, such as Wyoming, where there is a population of 600,000 meaning that each ECV (of which they have 3) only takes 200,000 votes, as they have two Senators and one member in the House. This is in comparison to California, where it requires 700,000 votes for one ECV. This therefore shows that smaller states are over represented as some voters in smaller states have more weight on the overall vote that if…


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