The US Electoral Votes Method Undermines American Democracy

The million-dollar question of who won the US presidential election in 2020 has not yet reached its solution. Without a doubt, the 2020 election is one of the most fascinating election campaigns in US history so far, if not the greatest one. The American public’s interest in the 2020 election is well expressed in the high turnout, as the American public, supporters of both the Democratic and Republican parties, felt that this election was crucial to the future of the United States of America.

Despite the democratic celebration in the United States, it seems that the presidential election system has exhausted itself and that a change needs to be conducted. The bitter truth is that since the 2000 election, two (three if Trump would win) out of six elections campaigns there has been a situation where the candidate who won the most votes did not win the election, as the second candidate won a larger number of electoral votes. In the 2000 election, the Democratic candidate and Vice President Al Gore won 51 million votes (48.4%), about half a million more than the Republican candidate George W. Bush who won 50.5 million (47.9%). However, even though Gore received more votes in total, it was Bush who eventually won the presidency as he received a larger number of electoral votes than Gore, 271 vs. 266 respectively. In the state of Florida, only 537 votes (0.01% of the total votes) separated Bush, who won the state’s 25 electoral votes, from Gore. In fact, Bush was not far from winning a higher number of electoral votes. In four states — New Mexico, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Oregon — which together constituted 30 electoral votes, Gore defeated Bush by a narrow margin of less than half a percent (in New Mexico, Gore led Bush by only 0.06%). Thus, the result in terms of electoral votes could have been even larger in favor of Bush, who would have gained 301 electoral votes compared to only 236 for Gore.

The same embarrassing scenario occurred again in the 2016 election, a situation that clearly illustrates why the US election system must be amended, better sooner than later. In the election four years ago, the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won 66 million votes (48.2%), three million more than the Republican candidate Donald Trump, who won 63 million votes (46.1%). Similar to the 2000 election, however, although Clinton won the most votes by a margin of 2%, it was Trump who became president, as he received a larger number of electoral votes than Clinton, 306 vs. 232 respectively. In fact, if Clinton had not been defeated by less than 1% margin in three states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (in Michigan, a state with 16 electoral votes, she lost by a narrow margin of only 0.23%) — Clinton would have become the first woman to ever sit in the White House.

The necessity to alter the US presidential election system is well reflected in the 2020 election as well. As of this writing, Biden obtained 75.5 million votes (50.6%) compared to 71 million votes for Trump (47.6%). Biden is also expected to win a higher number of electoral votes than Trump, 306 vs. 232 respectively. Yet, in three states- Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — which together make up 46 electoral votes, Biden leads by a narrow margin of less than half a percent (in Georgia and Pennsylvania the gap is less than 0.1%). These figures clearly demonstrate that Trump could easily have defeated Biden in any of these countries and that once again, the awkward situation in which the candidate who won the least votes could have won the presidency would occur. Therefore, it would be better for someone in Washington to wake up and recognize the fact that the current US presidential election system does not help the American democracy. On the contrary, this method only intensifies the division and polarization among the American society.

Since it is impossible to summarize this article without mentioning Israel and its special relations with the United States, there is no doubt that the State of Israel should thank the distorted American electoral system, which bestowed Israel the two most American sympathetic administrations to the Jewish state ever, the Bush administration 2001-2009 and the Trump administration 2017-2021.

Without underestimating the tremendous support of the Bush government, there is no doubt that the Trump administration was the most supportive government Israel has ever experienced. Trump relocated the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and his administration withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal signed by the Obama administration, an agreement that Israel vehemently opposed. But most of all, even more than the publication of President Trump’s Plan for Resolving Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, one that left the Jordan Valley and the settlement blocs under Israeli sovereignty, the Trump administration was the main reason that two Arab states, the UAE and Bahrain, signed normalization agreements with Israel, and a third country, Sudan, has already announced that it would follow this path as well.

In fact, these pacts will be remembered as the main legacy of the Trump administration when it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict in the Middle East. More than any other American president, Trump acts have proven that peace between Israel and Arab countries does not depend at all on the Palestinian question. The hope now is that the Biden administration will recognize the fact that the path to a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement is through an Israeli-Arab peace, and not necessarily the other way around. The adoption of this approach could not only lead to normalization pacts between Israel and other Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, but would also be a catalyst for an Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation after more than a hundred years of conflict.

About the Author
Ori Wertman is a PhD candidate and research assistant at the International Centre for Policing and Security at the University of South Wales, UK, and an Adjunct Researcher at the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, Israel.
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