2010 Census Impacts Electoral College
The Electoral College system was amended by the 12th amendment in 1804. As written in Article II of the Constitution, each state gets one elector for each of its two U.S. Senators in addition to a number of electors equal to its number of members in the U.S. House of Representatives. The electors are chosen by the political party committees in each state. Electoral College representation is based on congressional representation, so states with larger populations get more Electoral College votes. The presidential candidate must win a majority of electoral votes to be elected. If a candidate does not win the majority vote, per the 12th amendment, the election is decided by the House of Representatives.
Charles Lane of The Washington Post claims that the recent mid-term election results in addition to the likely impact of the 2010 Census is a major defeat for Democrats. The purpose of the census is to apportion congressional delegations among the states. The 2010 estimates by Election Data Services show that the majority of House of Representative seats will be shifted to the Republicans. Therefore, it is unlikely that Democrats will get the 270 Electoral College votes that would put Barack Obama back in office. The Census projects that in 2012 Republicans will acquire an additional seven electoral votes, compared to the Democrats loss of seven votes.
Supporters of the Electoral College claim that it maintains the federal system of representation in government. Our federal system was structured so that certain political powers are given to different levels of government. Congress, the House of Representatives, and even the Supreme Court all have separate powers that contribute to the overall function of the United States, which in turn preserves Democracy. But at the same time, a major component of Democracy is supposed to be equality and fairness. More times than not, the gritty nature of politics overshadow evenhandedness. As suggested in a New York Times article, the changes in the 2010 census will give Republicans the opportunity to redraw Congressional and state legislative district lines to their advantage.
The Electoral College system is flawed. For one thing, the system fails to truthfully reflect the national popular will of the people. The candidate who wins the most popular votes in the state wins all of the electoral votes of that state. This makes it very difficult for a third party or independent candidate to ever be represented well in the Electoral College. Even if a third party or independent candidate were to win one-fourth of the national vote, he would still end up with no representation in the Electoral College if there was not a plurality of votes in at least one state. Therefore, what the nation actually wants would not be represented. The Electoral College also reduces voter turnout. There is no incentive for states to promote voter participation because each state gets the same number of electoral votes despite voter turnout. This enables a small number of citizens to decide the electoral vote for the entire state. As Americans, we are now left questioning our representation in the election process.