Racist Roots of Electoral College Foster Voter Suppression and Social Injustice



The Electoral College has been present in the United States for as long as it’s been a free country.  The founding fathers wanted to implement a fair way in which the president could be elected.  They had suggested many ideas, including letting congress, state lawmakers, or the people pick the president.  For each of these, opposition arose.  The electoral college was ultimately created with 538 electors who had the power to choose the next president. 

If the United States is a democracy, why didn’t the founding fathers put the power to elect the president in the hands of the people?  For one, it was believed that the citizens could not properly choose the president, and that specific states would wind up deciding the whole election.  The southern states, however, objected because they believed that they would be at a disadvantage as they had many slaves who could not vote.  They would be outweighed in the election by the northern states.  When the system of the popular vote, along with the electoral college, was put into place, the three-fifths compromise was put into effect.  This made it so that each slave was counted as only three-fifths of a person or vote. 

In 1865, slavery was abolished and every American man was counted for one vote.  The quandaries the South had over the popular vote did not matter, as their voter population would match that of the North.  However, the electoral college is still being used today.  It’s evident that the electoral college is an institution built upon racism, as many institutions in the United States are.  The need for this system is no longer needed, and it is time to leave the presidential election completely up to the people. 

To this day, the electoral college still displays racism and, therefore, the power of black voters is heavily diluted with this system.  A majority of black voters’ voices are not being heard.  In the South, black voting trends show that blacks mainly vote for the Democratic candidate; however, five out of the six states that hold a black population of over 25% have been consistently Republican in recent presidential elections.  This suppression of black voters is completely unjust and must be put to an end. 

Supporters of the electoral college often say that without the system, politicians would not pay attention to the voters in smaller states.  While this might be true, currently three-fourths of the American population live in states in which most of the presidential candidates in the major parties do not campaign.  Another popular claim is that a handful of states would decide the fate of the election.  This idea of a small part ruling a larger part already occurs as a result of the electoral college.  States like California and Texas hold a much larger number of electoral votes than Alaska and Delaware.  If you can win a small number of states with a large number of electoral votes, you can easily win the election.  This also allows politicians to focus their campaigns on larger states that carry more electoral votes.

In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote while Donald Trump won the electoral vote, which crowned Trump the winner.  This shows that the people really don’t matter in a place that calls itself a democracy.  It does not make sense that more citizens could vote for one candidate, and yet that person does not win.  The majority of the people had wanted Hillary Clinton, but this was just disregarded.  The voice of the people, and specifically black people, is being suppressed under this institution.  It seems hypocritical that a country that preaches freedom is not giving its citizens the natural right to vote.  This issue cannot be ignored any longer, not when groups of people are being smothered.