Elections: A Libertarian Perspective on the Electoral System of the US

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September 20, 2017
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September 20, 2017

Through the years,  there has been little to no discussion about how elections in this country are run. Most Americans have no idea what the Electoral College is or what its functions are. That’s why I’m raising the issue now. As a Libertarian and an American, I’m obligated to share my critiques of the Electoral College with my fellow SFLers.

My first critique starts with the very building blocks of the US Electoral System. During the Constitutional Convention, the Founders were hesitant to give the people full power over the election of their President, and for good reason. The people, the Founders feared, had insufficient knowledge of the candidates and feared that elections in the hands of an under-informed electorate would pose problems such as a lack of a popular majority or worse. Since America has grown not only in population but also in media coverage, the information about candidates has increased tenfold since the 1700s. The American People can now make more informed decisions since the media and technology have greatly evolved.

My second critique of the current system is that it puts the vote of the people in the hands of a select few. As a Libertarian, that angers me greatly. Libertarians are all about freedom to vote for their choice of candidate directly rather than through an elector. The Electoral College has taken away this freedom. Over the years, the Electoral College has elected candidates that lost the Popular Vote. This last election was the best example. Hillary Clinton won the Popular Vote by over two million votes but Donald Trump became President by the majority of the Electoral Votes.  This could have easily been reversed had the Popular Vote been implemented to elect the President or had a few “faithless electors” changed their vote during the casting of votes in their state capitals.

My third critique of the Electoral College is that it maintains the two-party dominance. Since the Founding of the US, there have been two factions that have evolved into the modern-day Democrats and Republicans. This is just what John Adams had feared all those years ago. This emergence of factions completely drowned out the voice of the minority. Even today, there are multiple third parties who have participated in elections. Most predominantly in the 1968 election, where George Wallace swept the South but failed to gain enough votes to win the Electoral College. The second best example was the 2016 Election where Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson was denied a podium at all the Presidential Debates, despite meeting the required threshold to be on the stage. Johnson then filed a lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates citing unequal representation in the election. The case was heard by the Supreme Court but not yet put on the docket.

While the Electoral System has been an overlooked issue, I find it hard to believe that we have not yet discovered that the system of party dominance, disenfranchisement, and misinformation has become the root of the electoral crisis for third parties and the American People. The Electoral College has been in need of reform for decades. While some third parties made strides, others have not. As a Liberty supporter, I believe these are an issue that should be taken seriously, not ignored. A healthy Democracy is one with more than just the same two political parties fighting over who gets the power in the next election. It’s about civil debate and fighting for the American People.

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This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page. Like what you read here? You can sign up for a weekly digest of the SFL blog and subscribe for a weekly update on SFL’s events, leadership programs, and resources.

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