The Daily Aztec

It’s time to consider Constitution reform

Despite a drastic advantage in total number of voters (in raw numbers, there was a gap of 17 million voters), the Democratic party ended up losing more seats than it gained, with Republican Senate candidates gaining this advantage while losing the popular vote by a whopping 20 percentage points.

by Chance Page, Staff Writer

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In the midterm elections this past November, one party received 59 percent of the total vote for the US Senate. One party won two more Senate seats than the other.

Those are two different parties.

Despite a drastic advantage in total number of voters (in raw numbers, there was a gap of 17 million voters), the Democratic party ended up losing more seats than it gained, with Republican Senate candidates gaining this advantage while losing the popular vote by a whopping 20 percentage points.

This result is reminiscent of another election, specifically the 2016 presidential election, where despite a disadvantage in popular votes of more than 2 percent, or nearly 3 million voters, Donald Trump became president, thanks to the Electoral College system.

In both of these cases, voters in smaller, more inland states had votes that counted for more Senate seats or electoral college voters to their larger, coastal counterparts, which should lead us to conclude that in the United States, not all votes are created equal.

Efforts to reform our elections to ensure fairness are currently focused on ending gerrymandering and countering voter suppression measures like voter ID laws and expelling voters from electoral rolls without justification.  These are both necessary steps, but in order to truly create an electoral system where every registered voter has an equal say, we must go further.

In order for elections to truly represent the views of the majority of American people, we must reform or eliminate the Senate and the Electoral College, two institutions that were established by the Constitution but work against the popular will.

The Electoral College was explicitly designed as a method of resisting the popular vote, ensuring the elite had some method of overruling the popular vote if they saw fit.

While electors are no longer allowed  to vote against the state results, the effect of the Electoral College still works against representing the popular will: votes in smaller states count for more that votes in larger states, when comparing the amount of people per electoral college votes in different states.

In order to ensure all votes are equal, the Electoral College must be abolished and replaced with a system that relies on the popular vote, or at the very least, one where the electors in the Electoral College are determined by a flat rate per number of people.

Similarly, the Senate was designed as a compromise to help convince smaller states to ratify the Constitution; however, the more influential half of Congress is disproportionately represented by smaller states, once again devaluing the vote of people who live in larger states.

States deserve to have their interests represented, but not at the cost of some votes mattering more than others. Perhaps a mixed-member proportional representation system like the one Germany employs for the Bundestag, where part of the legislature is determined by direct election and the other part by voting for a party, would ensure both smaller and larger states receive adequate representation.

People in smaller states and rural voters may feel like their rights would be threatened by such a change, as they would no longer possess an advantage that allows them to wield a disproportionate influence on policy.

However, state and local governments can still provide aid for their people and counter the federal government, and besides, ignoring problems in rural areas would create problems in urban areas, like if food prices rise out of control or supplies run short because of mismanagement, therefore encouraging the government to aid rural voters.

Furthermore, voters in these areas still number in the millions; if one party tries to ignore rural areas entirely in nationwide elections in favor of focusing on urban areas, that strategy would likely cost them the election.

These institutions may have existed since the Constitution, but it’s clear these institutions work to make the country less representative of the popular will, not more. In order for elections to be fair once again, changes must be made.

Chance Page is a senior studying journalism.

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1 Comment

One Response to “It’s time to consider Constitution reform”

  1. Bill Humpf on January 13th, 2019 6:30 am

    Creating the electoral college was a brilliant idea by the Founding Fathers. This compromise was made at the Constitutional Convention to satisfy the small popoulation states who feared that the populus states would run the country for themselves and the smaller population states would have no say. This is why the House is based on population and the Senate has 2 Senators regardless of population. This way there has to be consensus between the large population states and small population states when legislation is passed in Congress. For these same reasons, the Electoral College is used to determine the Presidency, rather then popular vote. The Electoral College was and stilll is a brilliant idea!!!

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