Updated: Sep 22, 2020
“We should abolish the Electoral College.” I have heard this argument over and over again, most often from voters whose candidate won the popular vote in the last presidential election, turning this into something of a partisan issue. I remember learning about the Electoral College in middle school and realizing how unfair I thought it was. I, too, believed it should be abolished. However, at 22 years old, while I have little to no faith in either one of our country’s political parties, I strongly value the basic principles upon which our country was founded, the United States Constitution.
The Electoral College was written into the Constitution — Article II, Section 1, to be precise. It was created under the same principles that guided the creation of the U.S. Congress: one house in which all of the states are represented equally, and another in which representation is based on population. The writers of our Constitution used this idea to help balance the power between the highly populated states and those with smaller populations. As someone who lives in a progressive, well-populated area, I believe that sometimes we forget how much different the less populated areas are. The people in rural America are not necessarily concerned with the same issues as those who live somewhere like New York City.
To build on this, I’d like to discuss an issue I know a great deal about: agriculture. Many people in rural areas rely heavily on the agricultural industry to make a living and provide for their families. That being said, why should someone who has lived in the city their entire life and has never even seen a live chicken get to make policies about how farmers raise their chicks? Can that person tell me how much water that chicken needs to drink each day to stay alive? Can he or she tell me what vaccines are needed in order to keep a flock healthy? That farmer has kept his flock alive for over 50 years. Yet if you put his vote for a new policy up against the votes of 20 hipsters in Los Angeles who are obsessed with the issue of hormone-free chicken (despite the fact that giving hormones to chickens has been illegal since the 1950s), the farmer loses every time. Just because it is the popular vote, does not mean that it is the right vote. The Electoral College combats this issue by giving the farmer a louder voice. Sure, the hipsters can look up any of this information, but it's unlikely they'll do so because it doesn’t directly affect their lives.
With the popular vote, the opinions of the people in the cities will always outweigh those who live in the rural areas by a ratio of 4-to-1. This leaves those in rural America unheard and unaccounted for, even when they are dealing with issues that city folks know nothing about. The Electoral College, and the Senate for that matter, give some power back to the rural areas so that the issues they value are fairly represented.