The presidential election was days ago, yet we are presumably a month of legal challenges away from finally wrapping up the chaos. Joe Biden will likely stay on top after recounts and disputes over ballot legitimacy, but it shouldn’t even have come down to this.
With all the counting issues and focus on so few swing states again, 2020 should be the year our Electoral College system is finally replaced with a national popular vote method of choosing the president.
There are two main reasons to support the National Popular Vote (NPV): 1) the president’s constituency and 2) the current state of campaigning and voting.
Each part of the government that is elected has a specific constituency to which it is beholden. This constituency is represented in multiple ways and provides balance to the system, mostly via the Senate and House in Congress.
The Senate is the voice of equal state representation and must remain so. It provides value to the federal system and meaning to statehood. Washington, D.C., is a good example, as it currently has no equal say in the Senate, yet D.C. has 3 electoral votes. The House provides equal population representation, still on a state-by-state basis.
The president, however, represents all Americans equally, regardless of state. The vote of every American should count. Yet first-past-the-post victories for Electoral College votes discourage voting in states where contests are “already decided.” State power and votes are irrelevant in this discussion as both New York and Wyoming voters have the same level of power since they aren’t in swing states.
Campaigning now is also a disaster for equal representation and getting out the vote. According to campaign statistics from FairVote, in the 2020 election, over 212 events were held during the election cycle, yet they occurred in only 17 states, with 142 of those happening in five key swing states. Voters across the U.S. would be better served by hearing from candidates in person about issues that are happening in their states.
This lack of attention to and concern about the “locked-in” states also means that voter participation in elections can be abysmal compared to other countries. Even this year, in a key election, millions of Americans chose not to vote, often because they are told their vote doesn’t matter in a deep blue or red state.
NPV changes this, as every vote would matter in a fight for the presidency. Campaigning in Texas and California would become far more lucrative than they currently are, and campaign events to secure hundreds of thousands of votes from smaller states would be key to a Democrat or Republican victory. Their party platforms may even change to include more meaningful reforms and issues that appeal to the majority of Americans, not just swing-state voters. Finally, independent parties would have a much larger impact on elections than before, potentially eliminating the stagnant two-party system altogether.
Representation and a feeling of security in election results matter. The Electoral College no longer serves a purpose in protecting against uninformed voters in an age of information and protecting states’ rights in a branch of government that doesn’t involve them. The NPV Interstate Compact, as found on nationalpopularvote.com, has been making strides in states recently and is the best way to have NPV by 2024.
Let’s move on from the madness and have at least one good thing come out of the 2020 election cycle.
Addison Scufsa is the business manager and a digital content contributor for the Minnesota Republic, a student-led conservative newspaper at the University of Minnesota.