6 Advantages and Disadvantages of the Electoral College

U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents aren’t directly voted into office by the public; rather, they’re elected by presidential electors, known collectively as the electoral college. So, when Americans vote for a President and a Vice President, they’re actually not voting for a candidate but rather for the electoral college in their state.

The founding fathers put this process into place as a compromise between electing a President through a show of hands by the people and electing a President through a vote by the members of the Congress. The number of electors in each state corresponds to the number of members that it has in Congress; in this case, District of Columbia is considered as a “state” and is granted three presidential electors by the Constitution. Currently, there are 538 electors, and Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates need to garner at least 270 votes in order to be elected.

Proponents of the electoral college say that it can bring several advantages, but those who oppose it point out that it has several drawbacks. If you’re not sure where to stand, read on to learn more about the pros and cons of the electoral college.

List of Advantages of Electoral College

1. It prevents candidates from taking advantage of populated areas.
In other types of democracies, political candidates can try to increase their chances of winning by focusing on areas that have large populations and numerous qualified voters. This isn’t possible in the United States since the electoral college grants equal power to all states, whether they’re big or small and whether they’re heavily populated or not.

2. It promotes checks and balances.
The electoral college is one of the checks and balances that prevent one person from having too much power. It also promotes the United States’ two-party system which, in turn, contributes to the overall stability of the country.

3. It strengthens the country’s federalist character.
The electoral college ensures that each state is given the power to select presidential electors and participate in the election of the President and Vice President. This, in turn, facilitates the federalist form of government that is the backbone of the nation.

List of Disadvantages of Electoral College

1. It discourages people from taking part in the government.
Since they don’t have a direct say in whom will be elected as President and Vice President, many of the people can feel that their votes don’t really count. This discourages them from participating in the election and taking an active interest in the future of the country.

2. It encourages candidates to focus on certain states.
Most states have a “winner takes all” policy, in which the candidate with the highest number of votes is awarded all the electors. Add this to the fact that many states are known to be consistent supporters of one party (either Democrat or Republican), and it’s easy to see why many candidates avoid states that aren’t likely to vote for them and focus on those that will most likely support them.

3. It can elect candidates that many Americans may not want.
The decision of the electoral college undermines the vote of the people. Because of this, it’s always possible that the elected President isn’t someone whom the majority of the voters want.

Final Thoughts

The electoral college can bring about several benefits, but it also has its downsides. Knowing what these pros and cons are is important so people will know how the electoral college affects the government and the future of the nation.