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The Electoral System is Not Rigged: A Guide to the 2016 Election

Updated on November 11, 2016

What happens when the supporters of a party claiming to be inclusive, forward thinking, and glass breaking turn to the street and riot? For one, they prove that they were none of those things. There are those on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, who claim that the electoral college is rigged. They claim this because Donald Trump won the presidency. Now, to be fair, even Donald Trump has called the electoral system into question. The naysayers and rioters are claiming that the system is rigged because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Donald Trump won the electoral vote. Contradictory, this proves that the electoral system is working.

Those individuals who claim that the electoral college system is rigged fundamentally do not understand how our government works. We live in a country with a democratic republic government. In spite of what you may have been lead to believe, we do not live in a country with a democracy. We teach our children that this is a democracy because it is easier to explain then a democratic republic. This is a disservice for them because they remember their second grade Social Studies better than their eleventh grade Government class. I take issue with the way we teach our children, but that is a rant for another day.

A democracy is impossible to maintain on a national level and nearly impossible to maintain on a familial level. I had a liberal sociology professor tell his class to forget everything they thought they knew about the government upon entry into his “On Society and Governance” class. Why? Because he knew that about half his students were going to be confused as to how our government actually works.

-Democracy is a system of government which includes the whole population. It is the rule of the commons.

-Republic is a system of government which includes elected individuals under the law.

-Democratic Republic is the marriage of these two entities.

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If you know the definitions, then it is pretty simple to understand that our government is not actually a democracy. Some try to say that we have a democracy locally and a republic federally. This is close the the truth. The closer you are to home, the more of a say the non-politician is going to have. Even local, city governments have a system which mirrors the federal level. A democracy implies that each person has an equal voice; each person has equal say. 10 different people will have 10 different opinions on what is best for the country. 3.2 million people are going to have 3.2 million different opinions. 318.9 million people, the population of the United States, are going to have 318.9 million opinions. I live in metropolis that boasts of 3 million people a democracy would not work here.

In a democratic republic the people elects representatives who will speak on their behalf. The try to find the mean, or average, opinion and represent it to the government. These representatives make up the legislative branch of our government. The people get to elect their representatives; where, the title of representative might be inherited in a pure republic. During elections, especially, the representatives are tasked with representing the voice of the people while balancing the good of the American government.

In a pure republic the representatives of the districts would elect their own leader; however, in a democratic republic, the people get a say in who leads the government. That is the people get a voice in choosing the president, the executive branch. This is where the electoral college steps in. The founding fathers put a series of checks and balances into the government system to avoid tyranny. These safe guards are in place between the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of the government. They are also in place in the way these leaders are elected or appointed.

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The founding fathers wanted to avoid a charismatic demagogue wooing the people of the United States, being elected, then taking over in a tyrannical dictatorship. In order to avoid this, the electoral system was born. In the electoral system congress get a set amount of votes which are distributed among the representatives of the states based on the population of the state. This is how Florida has 29 electoral votes and New Hampshire has 4. The people vote, then the representatives of the state cast their votes reflecting the popular vote of the people they represent. A state with a larger population will have more electoral votes. A state with a lower population will have fewer electoral votes. This ensures equal representation among the states, as well as among the population.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 election by about 250,000 people or votes. That is a city. That is hardly a landslide. The election was very, very close. Donald Trump won by a margin in some states, but he still got the popular vote. Their electrical votes added up to be over the 270 votes needed. Their voices counted. California has a larger population in the state of Nebraska. Does that mean that the Californians are more enlighten or more important than the Nebraskans? No. It simply means they have more people. The electoral system prevents big States from monopolizing the government. It is intended to allow the States equal representation.

The results of this election does not mean that the electoral system is rigged. In fact, it means that it's working.

The way that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but lost the election is simple mathematics. Each of the States has a fair number of electoral votes. More representatives cast their electoral votes for Trump based on the popular vote in their State. More States “went red”, so to speak. The States that did cast their electoral votes for Hillary Clinton may have had a larger population than several of the smaller “red” States. Plus, in many States, Trump won by a margin.

So, for example:

In Pennsylvania, Trump received 2,912,941 votes and Clinton received 2,844,705 votes. That is a difference of 68,236 votes. Trump receives 20 electoral votes.

In Florida, Trump received 4,605,515 votes and Clinton received 4,485,745 votes. That is a difference of 119,770 votes. Trump receives 29 electoral votes.

In Iowa, Trump received 798,923 votes and Clinton received 650,790 votes. That is a difference of 148,133 votes. Trump receives 6 electoral votes.

So far we have Trump receiving 55 votes from 3 States. Now, let’s factor in California. California has 55 electoral votes.

In California, Trump received 2,970,470 votes and Clinton received 5,488,776 votes. This is a difference of 2,518,306 votes in Clinton’s favor. Clinton wins 55 electoral votes.

At this point in time, Trump and Clinton both have 55 electoral votes. Clinton has lost the popular vote in three States, and won the popular vote in the last State. If you tally up all four States, however, Clinton has won the popular vote:

Trump has a running total of 11,287,849 votes and Clinton a running total of 13,470,016 votes. This is a difference of 2,182,167 votes in Clinton’s favor.

In this example, Trump wins 3/4th of the States; Trump and Clinton tie using the electoral system; and, Clinton wins the popular vote. If the States have rights and the people in those States have the right to their voices being heard, is it fair to give this election to Clinton solely based on the fact that she won by the popular vote?

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