All in all, our electoral college is not an inherently bad system, though Thomas Jefferson may have disagreed with that statement (calling the process a blot in our Constitution). But while the idea may have been a good one when written, it may not best serve our needs now.
At the time the constitution was written – and even amended – the population of the states was reasonably well apportioned. Naturally some states had higher populations than others, so they’ve never been completely equal – but they were at least closer than they are now. Fast forward to today and take a look at California, with it’s 55 electoral votes. Fifty-five! That’s nearly one-fifth of the majority currently needed to secure the presidency through the electoral college.
Yet as in most states, the popular vote winner in the state gets them all. It seems strange to me that arbitrary state boundaries should hold such sway in this system. I don’t fault the electoral college system itself, or the framers of our Constitution for creating it. I do fault the current crop of career politicians who don’t do anything about it.
The electors in any given state number the same as the representatives from that state and the senators from that state combined. In Maine, they have 4 electoral votes that they do not necessarily distribute all at once to a single candidate. Their votes are given based on the winner in each congressional district (the winner in each district receives that district’s vote) and the final 2 votes are given to the popular vote winner. This could result in as many as three different candidates receiving votes from Maine (though that has apparently never happened) and makes all sorts of sense.
If you want to change the system, start with your state. It’s certainly not a priority to politicians on the national stage, but at the state level, it can happen. In fact, in this year’s elections, Colorado voted on the issue (it appears to have failed rather badly). Their proposal was to allocate votes on a ratio of the popular vote – I prefer Maine’s model, but the details are not terribly important. I like that people are at least consdering their options. What is important is to get involved.
Elected politicians are our representatives, and they can’t fix something if they don’t know that it’s broken. And perhaps more importantly, if they don’t have anything to fix, they’ll find something to fix for us, and no one wants that.