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The reality of the Electoral College

In a column a few months ago, I wrote in favor of the National Popular Vote movement that would change the winner-take-all system that America currently uses to a system that uses the popular vote. As Election Day nears, the need for a change in the current system is amplified.
Most polls and political pundits have already declared Obama or Romney the winner of a majority of the states. Thus, the candidates are focusing on the undecided voters in just a few of the states. Undecided voters in Mississippi, California, Arizona, etc., do not mean anything to the candidates.
Instead, Obama and Romney are trying to sway the undecided voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania, which combined equal less than the undecided voters in California. It is possible for Obama to lose millions of votes in California, which in turn would bring the popular vote closer, but still not lose a single vote in the Electoral College, when compared to the 2008 election.
California’s 55 electoral votes are powerful. How powerful? Of the states that are considered locked for Romney, it takes 11 states to make up those electoral votes.
The framers of the Constitution wanted to create a balance between the large states and the small states. The original intent of the Electoral College was to protect the smaller states, giving them more of a say in the election of the president.
However, today, the Electoral College is dominated by the large states. I guarantee the Founding Fathers did not see a state the size of California ever existing.
We often hear candidates reminding us that every vote counts, but in reality, that is not true. The popular vote is nothing but a number for TV and radio personalities to talk about and analyze for years to come.
Within each state, the winner-takes-all system forces the votes for all candidates other than the winning candidate to be useless. The votes are counted in the total for each candidate, but the only votes that count in the election of the president are the winning candidate’s.
After all, we actually are not even voting for president. Few people realize that. We are voting for a group of individuals to cast their own votes for president through the Electoral College. There is no guarantee that those individuals will cast their vote for the winning candidate, since the Constitution provides them the freedom to vote as they choose. Of course, they are likely to stick to loyalties, but it is plausible for different scenarios to play out.
Next Tuesday, millions of voters will go to the polls and cast votes in our democratic elections. However, the race for president will come down to a small percentage of voters in a few select states. Unfortunately, that is just the reality of the situation.
Trenton Winford is a junior public policy leadership major from Madison.