Overall, I think the presidential election process is very democratic, or at least much more democratic then it was. The Founders’ original plan was to have the state legislatures decide how the electors would be elected and the only role the people would play would be to elect the people in the legislature who would then vote for the electors. However, the introduction of the political parties has made the presidential election process more democratic since the founding, as seen through its effects on the Electoral College, the nomination process, and the development of a two-party system.
The Electoral College has become more democratic as parties have become involved. Instead of having the state legislature elect electors based on how wise and knowledgeable they were, the emergence of political parties has now enabled the citizens to be the ones to vote for the electors.
On the ballot, the citizens choose which candidate they wish to elect, but whom they are really voting for are the electors who have pledged to vote for that candidate. The electors whose candidate got the most votes are now able to go and vote for their candidate and win that state’s electoral votes. Even though people are still indirectly voting for their president, it is a bit more direct than having to elect the people in the legislature who would then decide how the electors were chosen (and even then, the electors could vote for whoever they wanted and were not pledged to a certain political party).
Parties involve the people in the presidential election process through primaries and caucuses, as well as the national convention. This is the nomination process and is actually similar to the presidential election. People from every state go to primaries/caucuses and cast their vote for the Democratic/Republican nominee, this is similar to the presidential election process because they are actually voting for the delegates that have pledged to vote for that nominee. The nominee that wins the primary gets to have its delegates go to the national convention and vote for them. This involves the people, because they’re able to vote for the delegates that will vote for the nominee that they want.
Even though some may find it limiting, the two-party system does allow for a wide spectrum of people to participate in the presidential election process. This is because most people do fit under the umbrella of either the Democrat or Republican Party. Even if they don’t fit under these two parties and belong to a third party, they’re still able to vote in open primaries and then the general election.
People who even do not belong to any party are not left out and can still vote for whichever candidate they think is best and do not have to be affiliated with that candidate’s party to do so. The two-party system allows many people to participate in the presidential election process because even though it’s a two-party system, it still has other smaller third parties that people can belong to.
As different problems have come up and been resolved in the presidential election process, it has, over time, become more democratic. The Electoral College is voted for by the people, primaries/caucuses allow citizens to nominate delegates to vote for their nominee, and the two-party system is broad enough to allow many people to participate in the election process. All in all, even though we don’t directly elect our president, we still play a huge part in electing the people who do vote and because of this, I think the system is very democratic.