It’s been more than two weeks since Donald Trump became the president-elect of the United States of America and for the first time since Al Gore, a Democratic candidate in Hillary Clinton won the popularity and lost the election because of Electoral College vote so to speak.
Now as a Filipino, I’m beginning to wonder what really is the Electoral College and why does it play a vital role in their election.
From the US Constitution
For starters I learned that the Electoral College is a system established by Article Two the United States constitution in their presidential election system to select their president and vice president, where citizens of the US in each state at a general election choose a slate of electors pledged to vote for a candidate.
The Twelfth Amendment of their constitution however requires each elector to cast one vote for president and vice president. In each state and the District of Columbia, electors are chosen every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and then meet to cast ballots on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. The candidates who receive an absolute majority of electoral votes among the states are elected President and Vice President of the US when the Electoral College vote is certified the US Congress in January.
As for the people involved in the process, there are 538 electors that corresponds to the 435 representatives in their congress, their 100 senators, and the three electors coming for the District of Columbia as mandated by their Twenty-third Amendment.
For the simplest explanation, the Electoral College is the group of people assigned to oversee the election in the state they are designated and they get to decide the outcome with the electoral votes based from the population size of the state. The vote people made only serves as basis, and these electors could change your vote.
The Bad Side of the Electoral College
What I don’t like about the Electoral College is how candidates must campaign hard on the biggest states in the US during their campaign season leading to their election year. Because to secure most of these states and their electoral votes is how a candidate can win the Electoral College. Namely these states are California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan. You can even consider Virginia.
Looking back on the recent US election, Donald Trump won the most of these states with its electoral votes. While Hillary Clinton only got California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.
Which is why if you’re a candidate that only got a few of these big states like California, New York and New Jersey together with their traditional safe states that only has a single digit of electoral votes, you are surely to lose the election because your opponent garnered the most of the big states not only their traditional safe states. The opponent must have also campaigned hard enough to secure those states, most especially swing states like Florida and Ohio.
As mentioned in the first subhead, these people could turn your votes around because they are the electors.
If the Electoral College of the United States is already that complicated for international spectators, it would be a lot harder if a country like the Philippines did adapt this system. Since my motherland is the first colony of the United States.
If the election that elected President Rodrigo Duterte in power was an election that is decided by the Electoral College I am sure that he would still win the election and secure the whole of Mindanao. Most of the Visayas in Regions 6, 7, and 8. Northern Luzon which many Filipinos called “Solid North” especially in Ilocos Norte, even the National Capital Region.
If only we have the Electoral College and the electoral map is set and parallel to the political map, Luzon would always be a big battleground during election year. The biggest electoral number of votes may have to come from the region with the biggest number of registered voters, not with how big a region is since we have rural areas.
It could also be advantageous for some candidates because of the growing population of the Philippines.
The downside of the Electoral College if it’s in the Philippine setting is having the multi-party system, because in the Philippines no one is a third-party candidate but only nuisance candidates. More important is there’s no bipartisan system the way it is with the United States of having the Republican and Democratic parties. It will also be harder to set a “magic number” like the America’s 270 electoral votes to determine the winner.
The selection of electors in this kind of setup is even scary and you will never how situations like this can go bad since the Philippines will always have an election hotspot like Caloocan, Maguindanao, and Cotabato and these election hotspots don’t always intensify the national election but the local election intensifies it.