Debate society hosts Electoral College event


Kellen Stepler | assistant features editor

One could argue countless reasons why you should go out and vote. Voting can be an opportunity for change; you can speak about issues you care about, and it gives citizens a say.

But with the Electoral College, does one vote actually make a difference?

On Monday, Nov. 11, the Duquesne Debating Society held a discussion in Wolfe Lecture Hall about the merits of abolishing the electoral college. The event was part of the group’s British debate tour.

Sarah DeIuliis, Duquesne professor and faculty advisor to the Duquesne Debating Society, explained that the British debate tour consists of two college students from the United Kingdom who come to the United States and debate American students on topics across the country.

The tour is organized by the National Communication Association’s Committee on International Discussion and Debate (CIDD). CIDD’s goal is to foster deliberation on issues and ideas between and among students in the United States along with other countries.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to learn from one another, regardless of our differences,” DeIuliis said.

Duquesne students Kolten Hilterman and Vincent Carrola argued for the proposition, that the electoral college should be eliminated. British students Niamh Thompson and Dan Scanio argued in opposition, to keep the electoral college.

The 42-minute debate was structured to give each speaker six minutes to argue their case. After all four speakers went, a 10-minute audience question and answer session was held. Following questions, the opposition and proposition had four minutes for rebuttal.

After the debate, audience members had to vote for who they felt won.

Carrola spoke first on behalf of the proposition. Carrola said that the electoral college is an attempt to solve a problem that no longer exists, and the equality of votes is harmed by the electoral college.

“When the existence of the electoral college seems to harm society, we should look toward its removal,” Carrola said.

He also said that the electoral college is not representative of individuals, and it gives some individuals more power than others just because of where they live. He used an example of Wyoming voters and California voters, voters that live in Wyoming have more of a say then voters in California because the population of Wyoming is smaller than California.

Carrola said that mathematically, Wyoming voters are “worth” four more votes than a Pennsylvania voter because of the electoral college.

Following Carrola, Thompson began her argument for the opposition. She argued that not only is the electoral college more democratic, it’s also a system of checks and balances.

Thompson argued that with the electoral college, most presidential candidates stop in swing states. Conversely, without the electoral college, candidates would just campaign in urban areas and pay no attention to rural voters. Thompson also said that now is the worst time to abolish the electoral college.

After the first opposition given by Thompson, Hilterman began the second proposition, calling the electoral college “an unnecessary middle man.”

Hilterman said that eliminating the electoral college would ensure equality, equity, fairness and accuracy in American voting. He said that when people cast a vote, they should be treated equally and in today’s society, people are more educated and interested in politics.

He also said that Donald Trump won the election due to the electoral college, as candidate Hillary Clinton received more votes.

Since the inception of the electoral college in 1804, only twice did the winner of the electoral college not have the majority vote – the 2000 election, and the 2016 election.

The last argument was for the opposition. Scanio said that there were two reasons to keep the electoral college – to safeguard the uneducated and misinformed, and to ensure fair representation of the whole country.

“[The electoral college] is a fair and equal representation of the public,” Scanio said.

After the question and answer debate and rebuttal, the audience voted 25-19 to keep the electoral college.

DeIuliis hoped that attendees enjoyed the unique opportunity to learn from and engage with students from around the world.