The Electoral College was established in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. It is the formal body which elects the President and Vice President of the United States. Each state has as many “electors” in the Electoral College as it has Representatives and Senators in the United States Congress, and the District of Columbia has three electors. When voters go to the polls in a Presidential election, they actually vote for the slate of electors.
The problem is the Electoral College sometimes elects presidents not chosen by the majority of voters. That was the case with John Quincy Adams, Rutherford Hayes, Benjamin Harris, George Bush, and Donald Trump, who in 2016 lost the popular vote by 2.8 million ballots, the largest margin of loss by anyone elected to the presidency.
If the corrupt and disastrous presidency of Donald Trump taught us nothing else, we should learn from it that the Electoral College is a disaster that must be abolished. That will require a constitutional amendment, a tough bridge to cross. Over the past 200 years, more than 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College. There have been more proposals for Constitutional amendments on changing the Electoral College than on any other subject. Public opinion polls have shown Americans favored abolishing it by majorities of 58 percent in 1967; 81 percent in 1968; and 75 percent in 1981.
And yet the Electoral College persists. Because Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters, the Republicans must depend on means other than simple vote counting to win elections and have, therefore, opposed doing away with the electoral college. As noted above, the college resulted in their winning the presidency twice in recent history when the majority of voters chose their opponent.
The time is long since past for the U.S. to grow up and rid itself of anti-democratic practices. The Electoral College heads the list. Let’s do it now.
One thought on “The Electoral College”
Many citizens would like to make the United States a purer democracy by eliminating the electoral college and enacting other reforms such as changing the Constitutional provision whereby the vote of a senator from California now represents 68 times more people than the vote of a senator from Wyoming. The principle of “one man, one vote” is more important to them than the views of those men who wrote our Constitution and negotiated “the great compromise” giving each state equal representation in the upper chamber. That compromise ensured the Constitution’s adoption., but there are now those who wish to throw it out.
As for the electoral college, our founders wished to do away with monarchy, but they also had a fear of “pure” democracy. They realized that it could easily lead to a tyranny of the majority, mob rule, then dictatorship.
I believe they were right.