Surprise: The Electoral College: Good or Bad?

Craig Huey2016 Presidential Election, Bureaucracy, Government7 Comments

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I’ve received  a lot of letters from confused and frustrated readers.

  • What is the Electoral College?
  • Can Trump be robbed of his election win through the Electoral College?
  • Should we abolish it?

So let’s take a look.

For sure, Donald Trump will be our next President.

He won a clear majority of Electoral College votes: 306 vs. 232

But critics are slamming the outcome, because Hillary Clinton has won more of the popular vote, or more individual votes from voters all across the country.

Most Americans are still a little unclear about the Electoral College, why it exists, and why it’s important to our republican form of government.

Notice that I did not write “democracy”, since the Framers of our Constitution purposely created a republic, not a democracy. The key reason is that a constitutional republic protects the rights of minorities from a tyrannical majority.

The Framers wanted to ensure a system in which small states as well as large states would have an influence in the Presidential election.

The truth is, when every voter goes to the polls, he is not directly electing the President and the Vice-President, but rather a slate of electors to vote for President in Washington DC on December 19th.

This whole process is spelled out in the United States Constitution.

Candidates select a slate of electors from within each state. Federal elected officials and government employees are barred from serving as electors, so as to avoid conflicts of interest among electors when casting their votes. When the candidate wins the primary for that state, the slate he assembled will then become his electors in the general election—if he wins his party’s nomination.

If the candidate in turn wins the general election, his slate of electors will vote for him in the Electoral College vote in December.

Despite outspoken critics of the process, including the retiring US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), the Electoral college is here to stay, to ensure a representative, republican form of government.

The Framers designed the Electoral College for the following reasons:

  • To protect minority rights from mob rule.
  • To ensure not just majority wins, but moderate majorities.
  • To force candidates to visit different states and form broad coalitions.

The Electoral College also guards against voter fraud, since criminal elements have to target key swing states to sway the final outcome, which is very difficult to do.

If a national popular vote serves as the final determinant for president, candidates would only visit highly concentrated urban centers while ignoring small states completely. Presidential candidates would ignore New Hampshire, Iowa, and even Hawaii, but would concentrate their time and resources in California and New York, and specifically in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City.

Shouldn’t the President of the United States respect and represent all Americans?

To learn more about the Electoral College and its importance, click below:

Did you learn anything new about our political system which you had not known before? Let me know what you think. Email me at craig@electionforum.org.

 

 

7 Comments on “Surprise: The Electoral College: Good or Bad?”

  1. As an alternative if we change electoral college delegates allocation uniformly based on popular votes in each state will the outcome be different? This requires all states to pass laws allocating delegates based
    on popular votes.

  2. Craig,
    I understood the Electoral College system both before & after I read your article. I am firmly in favor of the electoral system as it was established in the Constitution. One of the main reasons that I DON’T want to have a popular vote system is that I do NOT think it is right for California to be able to elect a President as would have happened in 2016.

  3. Very good article. Seems this best embodies the Founding Father’s view that mankind is basically evil, and cannot be trusted without the restraint of law. I wonder if, for example, if California could be divided into separate “Electoral College” regions. This might give some conservative regions more influence on the outcome, and cause future candidates in 2020 to campaign in California.

      1. California truly is in that sense a microcosm of the whole country. I’d very much be in favor of finding a way to regional-ize things in this state, so what must be done to get some traction on that idea?

  4. Actually, the USA is a democratic republic, not simply a republic. It is the United States of America, not the State of America, a union of states, not simply a unified people. Our founders designed the House of Representatives to be the people’s branch of government, with short terms and expectation of high turnover. The Senate, on the other hand, was originally intended to represent the states, not the people. The states selected their US Senator by vote of their state legislature. We moved toward more democracy with direct election of our US senators by the people.
    I agree that popular vote for the president would likely result in campaigns limiting their coverage to highly populated areas. In this election, Florida provided the most voters. Early results required only six states to provide the votes to win the election. It might take more now that most of the outstanding votes have been counted and the difference between the two candidates is over 2 million votes. Do we want a presidential campaign that concentrates on less than a fifth of the states?

    1. The “swing states” change from election cycle to election cycle.

      The point about “democratic republican” has merit. Thanks for sharing.

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