Using Math and Baseball to Defend Electoral College

On a rare event, as this election may be, a candidate may end up winning an election and not winning the most votes. But, Natapoff argues, that flaw is worth ensuring that every voter is heard in the long run.

Natapoff used more math to determine how an electoral system could empower each vote.By funneling each vote through districts, he calculates, one vote is more likely to determine the outcome of an election than if it’s cast in a huge national pool.

Others add that a popular vote system could be more flawed than many think.

Curtis Gans, the director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, believes that presidential candidates would spend nearly their entire budgets on campaign ads in mass media if they simply had to win a nationwide majority of votes. Rather than traveling to different parts of the country and developing grass-roots support, it would make more sense in a popular vote, Gans argues, for candidates to simply flood the airwaves with ads.

“We know that in statewide gubernatorial and senatorial races, where elections are won by majority, the candidates spend most of their budget on television advertising,” says Gans.

But arguments against the Electoral College can also become more complex.

Changing Times

Akhil Amar, a government professor at Yale University, argues the Electoral College was set up 200 years ago to ensure that Southerners would be fully represented even if they did not allow black people in their regions to vote. That cause, he points out, is obviously obsolete.

Another reason for its establishment, he says, was that common people far from the major villages or towns might not have enough information to make a wise decision — and so would need representatives to vote for them. Communications technology, Amar argues, has remedied that problem.

Finally, some claim the Electoral College does not force candidates to pay attention to the entire country and all the issues, but instead forces them to focus on states where the votes are expected to be close. John Feerick, dean of the Fordham Law School in New York City, argues that a popular vote system would allow people of common interests to pool their influence beyond state borders.

“What we have right now is a mess,” says Feerick. “We deserve better as a free people and as a beacon of democracy in the world to have a system to elect a president that doesn’t send out conflicting results and create confusion.”

The last time legislation was introduced to eliminate the Electoral College was three years ago. If Sen.-elect Clinton introduces legislation as she suggested she would, Natapoff says, once again, he’ll pull out his calculator to make his point.

“The Democrats or Republicans might not like the results,” says Natapoff. “But as a voter, the Electoral College is in our best interest.”

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