By Jillian Wrigley, news staff
Northeastern community members added their voices to the debate sparked by this year’s presidential election over whether the Electoral College should be abolished. The issue was brought to light after Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over two million votes, but lost the election to Donald J. Trump.
Northeastern political science professor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis made national headlines on Nov. 13 when he wrote an email to Politico calling for an end to the Electoral College. Dukakis’ stance has inspired students on both ends of the political spectrum to consider the issue themselves.
“Hillary won this election, and when the votes are all counted, by what will likely be more than a million votes,” Dukakis wrote to Politico. “So how come she isn’t going to the White House in January? Because of an anachronistic Electoral College system which should have been abolished 150 years ago.”
Thalia Carroll-Cachimuel, a third-year human services major and vice chair of the Latinx Caucus of the College Democrats of Massachusetts, agreed with Dukakis’ stance on the abolishment of the Electoral College. She said elections should be decided by popular vote counts instead.
“I’m in favor of the popular vote because every vote matters,” she said. “If we’re looking at the popular vote now it’s like over two million people that have voted for Clinton over Trump. If more people are voting for Clinton, then she should be president. More people in this country want her to be president than our president-elect.”
Joe Frissora, president of the Northeastern College Republicans, disagreed, saying that the Electoral College is a necessary system that keeps states with smaller populations from being forgotten about each election cycle.
“The United States is based on balance of power. We have checks and balances to stop majorities from overshadowing minorities,” said Frissora, a third-year civil engineering major. “This is the reason we have two houses of Congress, the reason we have three branches of government, etc. The Electoral College protects the small states from being outgunned by the big states. And since there are way more small states than big states, I don’t believe that the Electoral College will be leaving anytime soon.”
Article II of the U.S. Constitution outlines how the president will be chosen by the Electoral College, as opposed to being directly elected by the people. The Electoral College consists of 538 individuals called “electors” and each state is guaranteed a certain number of electors based on its population size. Most states, with the exceptions of Maine and Nebraska, have a “winner-take-all” system that awards all of the state’s allotted electors to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes.
Maddie Rocklin, a sophomore communications major, said the Constitution makes the United States a republic, not a true democracy.
“I think that now that we’re at the stage that we’ve been a stable country for so long that it would be the appropriate time to transfer to a true democracy where every vote counts,” Rocklin said. “Because we say now that every vote counts, when in reality a vote in New York is probably worth one fifth of a vote in Pennsylvania because of the Electoral College.”
While the Electoral College may not be the most efficient system, Northeastern College Democrats member Gian DeFilippis pointed out that amending the Constitution to abolish the system would be a difficult and daunting task.
“[The Electoral College] does help balance the power, but it does slightly tip the scales toward the smaller states rather than the population at large, so that’s just something that we have to look at in the future,” said DeFilippis, a sophomore political science and economics major. “Also, it’s extremely difficult to get rid of the Electoral College. You need an amendment to do so. So you have to try to look into other ways to balance the process out more evenly over the next couple of election cycles.”
Photo Courtesy of Jamelle Bouie, Creative Commons