Today, the system we use to formally elect our presidents in the U.S. is broken. Twice in the past 16 years, the Electoral College has voted to elect presidents that lost the national popular vote -- meaning that the country winds up with a president that the majority of voters did not want.
The Electoral College was originally designed to ensure that no unfit candidate could become President of the United States. Under the current system, the people elect "electors" who convene in December of an election year and formally vote in the next president. But electors cast ballots based on a "winner-take-all" philosophy that means if 51% a state's voters choose Candidate X, that person receives all of the state's electoral votes.
But the Electoral College no longer functions the way it was originally intended. One example is that, as a direct result of the College, only a few states have become truly "key" in presidential races. That's because these states' electoral votes "swing" back and forth between supporting different parties in different years, causing candidates to focus all their attention there -- meaning we ignore about 40 states.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Here are just a few alternative ways the U.S. could pick its future presidents:
- Direct Election via a National Popular Vote. This could happen via a Constitutional amendment or via a covenant or pact between most of the U.S. states. In one version of this system, electors would cast their ballots for the winner of the popular vote, to ensure that the final result matches the will of the people. This pact is already underway, and it's called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
- Make the Electoral College Cast Proportional Votes. Instead of using a winner-takes-all system, in the proportional system, electors cast their ballots for U.S. President to reflect the percentage break-down in their state's votes. So, if 51% of voters in a state vote for Candidate X, roughly 51% of electors also cast their vote for Candidate X.
- Independent Congressional Districts. Mirroring the system that is currently in place in Nebraska and Maine, each congressional district in a state would have their own, individual electoral vote based off that district's popular vote.
- Ranked Choice Voting. This allows voters to mark up to three presidential choices, in order of preference. If a candidate receives a majority (50%+) of the first-choice votes cast, they will win. If no candidate receives the majority, an elimination process begins. The candidate who received the least amount of first-choice votes is eliminated, and each vote cast for that candidate will be transferred to the voter's next-ranked choice among the remaining candidates. The elimination process continues until a majority is received and that candidate is elected.
The system we have now does not work, but important alternative options are available. We must consider these changes. Sign now to support election reform!