The election of Donald Trump to the American presidency has raised so many questions about the future of our political system. Critics of Trump say that he is actively working against democracy with some even going so far as to label him a fascist. There are also lots of issues around fake news and the spread of misinformation online which make it so hard for people to make reasoned decisions about politics. Some people claim that democracy as we know it is in danger and the voting system in the US is one of the biggest threats.
The right to vote is at the heart of democracy and it gives people the power to choose who leads them. But how much power do you really have when you cast your vote on polling day? Some people believe that you have agency over politics because you get to vote but there are some critics that say otherwise. Their big issue is with how the voting system itself works. When people vote for the president, they don’t cast their vote directly for that person. Instead, you vote for people to join a group known as the electors. It is these electors, chosen by the party, that then cast their vote for president. If you vote for the losing candidate in your state, your vote is effectively not counted.
The issue that people take with this is that it is possible for candidates that don’t win the popular vote to be elected president because of the electoral college system. In 2000, Al Gore won around half a million more votes than George Bush, yet Bush was still elected president.
Swing states are another big problem. The majority of states have voted the same way for decades and the votes of anybody that goes against the grain don’t really count for much. That means that it is only the votes of people in swing states, which don’t always vote the same way, that are really important.
That’s why there are a lot of people advocating for a change in the voting system. They want to switch from the electoral college to a popular vote system so every vote matters, rather than people in swing states having more agency. There are still advocates for the electoral college system but a lot of people claim that it is undemocratic.
It’s not just the system itself that has been brought into question either, it’s the information that people are using to decide who to vote for. Fake news is one of the defining features of the Trump presidency and while he claims that misinformation is being spread to damage him, a lot of people claim it’s the other way around. There are a lot of allegations about Russian collusion in the election using social media to spread misinformation designed to encourage people to vote for Trump.
It’s so difficult to tell whether what you’re reading online is true or not so, even if the electoral college system is a democratic voting system, are people really making their own decisions about who to vote for or are they being pushed in a certain direction by misinformation?
Do you think that the current voting system is democratic or not? Let us know in the comments.