Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Public Policy and Law
Our Constitution mandates the president of the United States be elected through the electoral college, a mechanism originally engineered to be a compromise between a popular vote by qualified citizens and a vote by Congress. The electoral college existed without controversy up until the 21st century because it consistently produced a winning candidate which mirrored the popular vote, our contemporary perception of a democratic voting method. The legitimacy of the electoral college in the 21st century, however, has been called into question after two of the last five presidents have failed to win the popular vote. Critics of the institution commonly allege that it is inconsistent with American democratic values because it allows individual votes to hold different weights depending on the voter’s state of origin. In this thesis, I construct a statistical model measuring the voting power of individuals in every state to estimate the levels of inequality between individuals in the current electoral college. I apply my model to every election in American history to understand the longitudinal behavior of inequality within the electoral college, and how it has changed over time. My findings indicate that some of level of inequality between individuals can exist and still be consistent with American democracy. The levels of inequality in today’s current electoral college, however, fall significantly outside the established parameters for acceptable levels of inequality to persist. Based off these findings, I conclude that the electoral college must be abolished, and that we move towards a presidential election method that reconciles state recognition in federal government within the demographic environment of America in the 21st century.
Kaplan, Alex, "America's Electoral Problem: The Shortcomings of the Electoral College in Contemporary American Democracy". Senior Theses, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 2019.
Trinity College Digital Repository, https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses/786