How do you feel about the Electoral College?
Excuse me, but is now a good time to remind you that this was the fifth time in U.S. history reportedly that the candidate with the most votes in a presidential election was not elected president by the Electoral College?
The framers of the Constitution adopted the Electoral College, which gives each state as many votes as it has members of Congress. It was created as a middle ground in the debate over whether Congress or voters would have the power to elect the president.
Today, there is still support for electing the president by a national popular vote, eliminating the process of allocating electors among the states by rules that violate the principle of one person, one vote.
The existing system violates the one person, one vote rule, in my view. The addition of two electors to each state for its senators produces significant distortions in how much our individual vote is worth from state to state.
Also, once we’re past the primaries, presidential campaigns become wholly preoccupied with the relatively small number of states that are actually competitive. Their competitiveness is just a demographic accident, however, There’s nothing special about them except that their populations happen to be fairly evenly divided from a sociological standpoint.
This problem would disappear if we had a truly national election with one electorate and votes counting the same wherever they were cast. Then the candidates would have to think more creatively about how to mobilize a national electorate.
The framers of the Constitution had no obvious model of what a president would be. The dominant models of executive power in the 18th century were monarchical, or perhaps a king ruling with a clique of ministers, as in Britain. Those were options the Americans had rejected in 1776.
Nearly everyone agreed at the time that George Washington would be the first president. But once he retired or died, the framers worried that a popular vote would then center on provincial candidates. Most voters would favor candidates from their own states, and it would become truly difficult to produce a popular majority with a field of favorite sons. They never envisioned radio, TV or Internet.
Gallup polls from 1944 to 2004 indicate that the majority of the public would like to see the Electoral College abolished, yet there’s been only one failed effort to do so, in the early 1970s.
Today, everyone assumes that the small states would block any constitutional amendment because they believe they would lose influence in the election of a president.
What do you think?