By Carmen Grant
Washington State is front and center on ridding the U.S. of the Electoral College and pushing for electing the president by National Popular Vote (NPV). Olympia legislators passed Senate Bill 5599 which made Washington the 9th state in the U.S. ready to kill the Electoral College. Ironically the NPV law only needs 270 out of the 538 electoral votes to be enacted into law. The vote is currently at 60 or 23%.
Why we have an electoral college
The Founding Fathers decided against NPV because it would not represent the smaller states. Candidates could ignore rural areas, and focus on densely populated regions where they could get more votes. The Electoral College (EC) is meant for candidates to work harder to get their votes. Each state gets a certain number of electoral votes based on the state's population, determined by the U.S. Census. Washington State has eleven votes, less populated states, like Alaska and Delaware, only have three while California has the most electoral votes at 55. It is a winner-takes-all system, meaning when an absolute majority is met, then the candidate gets all the electoral votes from the state.
A National Popular Vote doesn't just mean a 51/49 split. It means whoever gets the majority wins. A candidate could very well win with a mere 20% approval. It is more complex than people understand. It might kill the two-party system that has carried elections throughout history. Currently, each party has to agree on a candidate who can appeal to the greatest number of citizens to gain a majority of votes of the Electoral College.
Paul Greenberg argues that this shift in electoral reform makes us more like the French. There were thirteen candidates in 2003, and barely any of them could carry a majority. The result was to have a second round of voting that put a right wing radical against an unpopular conservative. Ridding the U.S. of the EC would water down the quality of candidates and open the door for right and left wing radicals to be legitimate presidential contenders. It would segregate states, regions, and people.By ridding the U.S. of the electoral college, we are watering down the quality of our candidates and making it so that any schmuck can run for office. Unfortunately, my state voted to kill the EC, despite huge groups of protesters whose voices were never heard. Shows a lot about the representative democracy we have in Washington State.