Voting Issues in the U.S | Teen Ink

Voting Issues in the U.S

June 3, 2017
By victoria_kapusta PLATINUM, Ridgewood, New York
victoria_kapusta PLATINUM, Ridgewood, New York
20 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Throughout decades and centuries, America has adopted the 12th amendment know to explain the use of electoral college into article 2 section 1 of the constitution. It has grown into the current election process we have, which begins with the primary elections and caucuses then to nominating conventions, when political parties each select a nominee. The nominee also announces a Vice Presidential running mate at this time. Next, these candidates campaign across the country  to explain their views to the voters and participate debating with the other candidates of their party first and then the opposing party. When it is time for the general election, Americans cast their vote for president but those votes are not taken in as popular vote but use electoral college instead which is a group of people that elects the president and the vice president of the United States according to The New York Times. Although they are not referring about a place, the word “college” in this case simply means an organized body of people engaged in a common task. So, in order to win the election the candidate must win a majority of electoral votes. In the event that no candidate receives the majority, the House of Representatives chooses the President and the Senate chooses the Vice President.

To begin with, there are many problems that exist in the electoral college and the election process. First of all, it creates the possibility of someone who one the popular vote to lose. This is an issue due to the fact that more Americans wanted that president, but due to them looking at what the majority of one state wants rather than all the people, it prevents potential candidates that put a large effort in running. For example, according to MinnPosts’  “10 Reasons why the Electoral College is a Problem”, it states, “ It has happened at least four times out of the 56 presidential elections, or more than 7 percent of the time, which is not such a small percentage, and it created a hideous mess every time.” This describes how people’s voices aren’t being heard by millions due to them giving states a certain number of votes depending on the population but they are not actually using the majority but instead the minority. Even today, with Hillary vs. Donald Trump for president, Trump got 306 electoral votes while Hillary got 232 electoral votes according to CNN but, Hillary did win the popular vote by 2 million so they cut off 2 million voices.  The Electoral College system shifts away from the one-person, one-vote principle of  what a democracy is  because electoral votes are not distributed according to population. This is because the state gets one electoral vote for each member of its delegation to the House of Representatives (this by itself would be a rough measure of its population) and each state also gets two “bonus” electors representing its two senators.This creates too much overrepresentation of small states in the “College.” In the most extreme case, using 2010 Census figures and the new distribution of House seats based on that census, an individual citizen in Wyoming has more than triple the weight in electoral votes as an individual in California. Through indicating that a less populated gives a larger impact than one that is more populated, it examines how the U.S finds that it is better to satisfy the minorities through this compromise when in reality it is just more power given to them.

There are several solutions that can be done to solve the problem of the popular vote not being recognized. One solution is instead of eliminating electoral college, we can reform it by dividing America’s 50 states equally based on population. For example, in the article, “A Crazy But Rational Solution To Our Electoral College Problem” from, Neil Freeman wants to “ Re divide America into 50 new units of equal population. Each new state will have roughly 6,175,000 inhabitants — which is our 2010 population divided by 50.” So through this way there isn’t more electoral power given to one state but instead it is all equally redistributed by a map that takes several large cities that have different political views all together.

Another issue with the electoral college and election process is that the voting registration and voting process in general is very difficult. Even though Congress passed the Voters Rights Act in 1964, the Republicans have made it harder for certain types of people to vote. Today, numerous states require voters to show an official government document to vote or their car registration. Not even showing that they get mail at a specific address doesn’t apply now. So, this causes poor voters to waste time to going to a government office to prove that they are a citizen. In addition, these states are also trying to reduce the number of polling places as well as the hours of polling so less people would go vote due to them giving up on long lines because they are wasting their time off of work. An example of voting registration needing improvement is according to the Huffington Post, “When students reach 17 years of age, they would be notified to pre-register so that they could vote when they reach 18 years of age. Another proposal is that when young people apply for a driver license, they should automatically receive voter registration at the same time.” This causes more voters to get an advantage when signing up to vote but an advantage for a the Republican party as well. Due to more poor people being uneducated so most likely not in school or not being apply to apply for a driver license, this causes less Democratic votes since statistically from, “An individual’s likelihood of being a Democrat decreases with every additional dollar he or she earns. Democrats have a huge advantage (63 percent) with voters earning less than $15,000 per year.….with just 36 percent of individuals earning more than $200,000 per year supporting Democrats.” In the end, many people are cut off in the voting process to satisfy a certain political party and prevents those potential votes that could have changed the entire future presidents’ election.

The second solution to making the voting process less difficult during presidential elections is instead of keeping these voter ID laws and early registration for those that are getting their drivers licenses, they should create a federal voter ID law to ensure that everyone can vote even without the documentation and be less strict on the voting requirements. This is because election fraud is very uncommon, so it is uneccessary to make people that are lower class and don’t have a birth record or money to afford the documents to be regulated even more.An example of this is in the TIME magazine, where it states, “ In some parts of Texas, people have to drive 200 miles roundtrip to get the ID they need. In some states, it can cost as much as $25 to get necessary documentation to vote.” Due to these expenses and lengthy travel in some states, it would be better if the U.S as a whole compromised on giving a federal ID card that would guarantee people the right to cast a ballot. In the civil rights era, congress passed the voting rights act of 1965 to ensure that blacks have the right to vote, but now we have to make sure that it is a national right that the government can protect and help ensure those voters that live in states with tough ID laws that they are not disenfranchised.  Another alternative would be establishing more voter-friendly rules for these types of ID’s and have the voters not have to pay for it and they can be dispensed at post offices in all communities for citizens 18 and up.

The final problem with the election process and electoral college is that it is not directly democratic and thus violates the principle of “one person, one vote.” This is because some states’ residents are more equal than others’. In the article, “The Electoral College has Serious Problems. So do any alternatives.” by the Washington Post says, “Wyoming had fewer than 570,000 residents and 249,000 voters, who allocated three electoral votes. Still, each Wyoming voter in 2012 was worth 2.87 California voters in terms of her individual share of her respective state’s electoral votes.” This is unfair and doesn’t reach the goals of a democracy because equal representation is not given since some people have a bigger impact on who becomes president (Their votes are more worth than others) as well as their population is even smaller making it more unfair. Not only this, but this also creates “faithless electors” which is when states makes sure that that the state electors choose the popular vote for the state and are usually bound to it.

The final solution to the undemocratic electoral college that makes some Americans votes more worth than others is to decrease the amount of senators in each state and then also just remove the electoral college entirely. After that, we would do popular vote by having the people vote for their candidate and then the candidate that was voted by more people in the state would become one vote made by the senator of the state. Then, we would change the amount of how much the votes are worth with a 1-5 scale based on how populated the state is (not by size). Large states like  California and New York would be given a point value of 5, while small states like Nevada and Wyoming are given 1 point. The states in between are given a point value based on a ratio of the entire country. These points would add up to approximately 101 points.

There will be numerous outcomes and advantages given once the electoral college is reformed and the election process is resolved. First of all, it will end over-representation of small states and the under-representation of large states in presidential voting by becoming equal through removing small and large states. Secondly, there will be political boundaries that will follow economic patterns better if the states are organized differently because all the states will have one to two metro areas. Next, this would end the varying representation in the House, since currently the population of House districts range from 528,00 to 924,000 but after this reform, the House seats would represent districts by the same size instead. Finally, states that are more populated will get better representation because they are worth more but they would campaign in more states since the scale is 1-5 so the points range isn’t that massive. They would still also focus on the swing states because they know that some states are predominantly republican or predominantly democrat. By considering to not have the state choose the majority, it lets all the people be the majority and not be rejected. Even according to the Huffington Post, “Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford and George H.W. Bush have all supported a popular vote election of the president, so this is an issue that should have bipartisan support.” So, this would also cause more candidates to go to states that vote primarily for their opposing party due to the fact that it is less competitive and makes a fair opportunity for both parties to fight for a state hard rather than going to the swing states and the states with the majority supporting their political party.

In conclusion, the election process and electoral college that America has kept for centuries has challenged numerous individuals when it comes to voting, unequal representation of all states and has also affected the outcome of many past presidents that ran. A significant role America must go by is through a reform or removal of electoral college in order to replace it with popular vote and makes it easier for those who are minorities which can be inspired off of different countries that have an election process that is effective while also very simple. How can Democrats/Republicans in such heavily Republican/Democrat (vice versa) areas find the motivation to campaign when they know that it won’t make a difference? This election process was meant for people to keep individuals that are uneducated from voting because the state legislature selects the voter and since today they have mandatory education through the age of 16.  Like stated above, if for example 40% of people vote for a person, but they don't win the state, then their votes don't count. The Electoral College aims its power to pick the president in the swing states with basic several states that have approximately an equal number of voters who are likely to vote Democratic and Republican and usually not other smaller political parties. On the other hand, it has been seen that  even though, the majority speaks , the minorities still get away with what they want or thrived for when it comes to America’s election process especially in the 2016 election.

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