In her CNN Town Hall in Jackson, Mississippi, Senator and Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren proposed the elimination of the electoral college.
She was not the first candidate to suggest this. In fact, many candidates, including Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, and Beto O’Rourke, all support or are considering supporting this proposal. While it has started a national conversation about the possibility and what it may mean, it should be especially embraced by all California voters.
After the primaries, Democrats in California do not get very much time with presidential candidates unless they are being asked for money. The nominee knows that they are all but guaranteed California’s 55 electoral votes, so they don’t spend very much time here, especially not in poorer areas where fundraising may prove challenging.
This is a shame because, as we saw in the 2018 midterms, California Democrats are passionate about politics and wish to be active during the election cycle. Because of this, it has become commonplace for Californians to phone bank for the Democratic nominee in other states and some even make the trip to Nevada, our closest swing state, to canvas.
If we eliminated the electoral college, every vote of every Californian would matter.
Political activists would spend their time and effort ensuring not only that everyone was voting for the Democrat, but also that everyone was voting. Democrats in California may not feel great motivation to head to the ballot box if they know that their vote is just doing what is already being done by our electoral votes: Electing the Democratic candidate.
It is not just Democrats in California who would benefit from eliminating the electoral college.
Republican voters in our state would actually get to meet their candidate because Republican candidates would stop considering campaign trips to California to be either a waste of time or solely a fundraising opportunity. The Republican nominee would make the effort to meet and persuade voters in all parts of the state because, even though a majority of Californians might still vote for the Democrat, the Republican could gain votes here that would go toward their national total.
Many Republicans in California feel as if their vote for president does not matter, and to be quite honest, with the electoral college in place, it doesn’t.
If all of California’s electoral votes are going to the Democrat, then why should Republicans in this state even bother voting? By eliminating the electoral college, we will be ensuring that Californian’s vote, regardless of party affiliation, matters and goes towards electing the person they want to be running our country.
Eliminating the electoral college may seem like a big change and may scare strict constructionists because it is not necessarily what the founders of this country intended.
But times have changed and change is good when it moves us towards a more democratic system of governance. Until the 17th Amendment, voters did not directly elect their senators, and now that is something that we take for granted. Until the 19th Amendment, women did not have the right to vote, and now women are proud participants in every election.
Voting laws can change and they can change for the better.
It is time for every Californian to embrace the elimination of the electoral college. Whether you are a Democrat who wants to spend time campaigning for a presidential candidate in your own state, a Republican who wants your vote to count, or anyone who wants to meet a candidate knowing that they are asking for your vote — not just your money — you will benefit from this change.
While eliminating the electoral college is currently only being proposed by Democrats, all California voters, Democrats and Republicans, should support this change in order to ensure that all of our voices are heard and that all of our votes count.
Naava Ellenberg is a San Jose native attending college in New York, majoring in history with a concentration in American law and politics.