WHY THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE?
What do John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, and George W. Bush have in Common? All became President of the United States but lost the Nation’s popular vote.
Is this Fair? The Founders of America thought so. They were responsible for establishing the “Electoral College” as part of the Constitution.
The plan to elect our President and Vice President was created in Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States, and refined by action of the 12th Article of Amendment, ratified in 1804.
It is important to remember America is composed of 50 very independent States, governed by rules of a “Republic”. It is not a “Democracy” where decisions are made by majority vote.
While we employ democratic processes in the government function, our founders took deliberate steps to forge a Representative Republic, in lieu of a pure democracy.
When bystanders queried Benjamin Franklin as to the form of government wrought by the convention, Franklin replied, “A Republic, if we can keep it.”
PURE DEMOCRACIES SELF-DISTRICT
On June 26, 1998, three generations of Gillespies had the privilege of spending 20 minutes with President Ronald Reagan. Pictured in the President’s California office are, left to right, John Gillespie, his son, Steve Gillespie, and grandson, REAGAN JOHN GILLESPIE, who is named after the President and his Grandfather.
Over 200 years ago, John Adams warned that pure democracies always committed suicide, murdering themselves. This is because of at least two major flaws.
Ideologically, democracies regress to mob rule, in which the current opinion of the masses becomes the guiding principle. Economically, democracies self-destruct when citizens discover they can vote themselves the public funds in the form of endless government-funded entitlement programs.
The Electoral College system provides more of an equality between States in electing our President and Vice President. It basically allows each of our 50 States to individually select their candidates and awards electoral votes to each State.
538 ELECTORS FROM 50 STATES SELECT OUR PRESIDENT
Voters cast ballots for 538 electors, based on the number of House and Senate members in each state. Large states get more electoral votes because House seats are based on population. A candidate must get at least 270 electoral votes to win.
Most states use a winner-take-all system, except Nebraska and Maine. They allocate one elector to the winner of each congressional district and two electors for the winner of the state overall. “The Electoral College is meant to require that a candidate have a broad geographic reach” said Michael Malbin, political science professor at the State University of New York at Albany. “It requires people to have different kinds of constituencies”.
AFTER 200 YEARS LEGISLATORS STILL FAVOR ELECTORAL SYSTEM
Senate Leader Tom Daschle, D-SD said, “The electoral college helps the smaller states.” Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, put it this way: “If we did away with the Electoral College, an awful lot of states would never get a visit from a presidential candidate”. Senator Robert Torricelli, an Democrat from populous New Jersey, said the constitutions framers meant to make the presidential elections “a vote of the people in each state…not a vote of the country as a whole”.
“This is not the Federal Republic of America “Torrecelli said. “It is the United States of America. Our sense of union, and everyone’s inclusion, is why we have the Electoral College”.
ELECTORAL COLLEGE HAS SURVIVED 700 AMENDMENT ATTEMPTS
Since 1804 there have been 700 attempts to amend the Electoral College system…all have failed. To amend the Constitution both the House and Senate must pass the amendment with a two-thirds majority. Then legislatures in 38 of 50 states must ratify it.
For the original description of the Electoral College method of selecting our President and Vice President, Go to “The Founding of America” page on this website and click on “Constitution of the United States.” See Article II. Then click on “Bill of Rights” on the same page. See the 12th amendment to the Constitution.