Five-Part Series on Primaries
By Valerie Emmert
Part IV: How the Electoral College & Primary Systems Preserve Our Representative Government
Lately it seems that every Presidential election cycle brings renewed discussion about abolishing the Electoral College and relying solely on the popular vote, which proponents claim is more fair; but is it really?
Some in media and academia erroneously refer to our form of governance as a Democracy when it is actually a Democratic Republic. What’s the difference? In a pure Democracy, a majority of residents in a home owners’ association could adopt a policy of rejecting any application by a minority group of people—such as Latinos, for example. Simple majority rule. In a Republic, however, such a policy is against the law, protecting the minority from abuse by a majority. In our Democratic Republic, laws are made by an assembly elected by citizens in small geographically-partitioned groups, ensuring that all varied characteristics of the populace are represented.
This principle is the foundation of the Electoral College System. Without the Electoral College, the sheer volume of voters in the larger, more populous states would deliver an election to a candidate, rendering moot the votes of citizens outside those states, effectively disenfranchising millions of citizens. Because Electoral College Delegates represent Congressional districts and so many of them are needed to win, a candidate’s platform must appeal to a wider and more diverse collective of voters. A candidate won’t win by appealing only to voters in the most populous states.
The primary system functions on a similar principle. Most urban voters tend to support more liberal policies, while most rural voters tend to support more conservative policies, in general. Our two-party primary system helps to insure that competing philosophies of governance are represented on the general election ballot to give voters a distinct choice for the direction of the government. In cases where municipalities use a nonpartisan ballot where all candidates run to elect the top two vote-getters regardless of party for the general election, often both general election candidates are of the same party, having only insubstantial policy differences, leaving the voters with no distinct choice for the direction of their government. Were such a system implemented on a statewide or national level, the top two vote-getters would most certainly always be those with the most money or the most fame, not necessarily those whose platforms are most representative of voter preference.