The Electoral College

You have all heard of it. They even tried to teach you this in school, but what is this Electoral College really?
"The Electoral College is a controversial mechanism of presidential elections that was created by the framers of the U.S. Constitution as a compromise for the presidential election process. At the time, some politicians believed a purely popular election was too reckless, while others objected to giving Congress the power to select the president. The compromise was to set up an Electoral College system that allowed voters to vote for electors, who would then cast their votes for candidates, a system described in Article II, section 1 of the Constitution."
The entire process goes something like this: We the people of the United States of America get up, go to work on the second Tuesday of November, and then before going home we stand in line at our favorite voting booth and vote for our next President. We race home and eagerly watch the numbers unfold and watch the map of the United States turn red and blue. Ultimately someone is named the victor. But, this victor may or may not be the next President. On the Monday following the second Wednesday in December the electors of each state meet and vote for President. Those votes are sealed and sent to Congress where they are read on January 6th. Then the new President is sworn in on January 20th.

I am sure that most of you remember the infamous 2000 election between Al Gore and President George W. Bush. Gore received 537,179 more popular votes that President Bush on that Election Day but after the Electoral College met they awarded President Bush the state of Florida and he won the presidency. There were three other instances in which the Presidential candidate with the most popular votes did not win the presidency. They were:

  • 1824 John Quincy Adams received fewer votes than Andrew Jackson. Adams was awarded the Presidency after the House voted on it.
  • 1876 Rutherford Hayes lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden. Hayes received 5 of the 6 smallest states electoral college votes along with Colorado to win.
  • 1888 Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland, but he won the electoral college by 65.
Throughout history it is easy to see that in most instances the Presidential candidate who wins the popular vote on the second Tuesday of November will be named the victor. So this begs the question: Why have an Electoral College? I personally believe that if we the people of the United States all vote for our favorite candidate and he/she receives the popular vote that person should be named President.

What do you think? Is the Electoral College a good idea or do you prefer electing a President by popular vote?

1 comment:

K.S. Clay said...

I'm definitely in the popular vote category. I think there's no bigger disappointment to the American people than to be told how much they need to get out to vote, how much their voice counts, and then after the election to be informed that the opposite is true. So many other offices are decided by representatives. The presidency, at least, should be decided upon purely by the people.