America’s Electoral College

Preface: I hate politics.  In fact, I don’t claim to understand much about politics and I don’t make an attempt to educate myself beyond the little that I do know.  What you are about to read was an assignment I was given for the class I am currently taking.  The instructions were simple; write a paper discussing what the Electoral College is, when it was enacted, and your opinion regarding its continued use – no length requirement.  I figured today would be the perfect day to share this little nugget of, um, intellectual prowess (haha) seeing as the Electoral College will be determining the next leader of America after today’s election.  

I may sound ignorant with what I’m about to say but it’s the truth.  When I got this assignment I had no idea what the Electoral College actually is.  I ask that you not judge me too harshly upon reading what’s to come because even after doing the research and writing the paper I still have little understanding of this concept!  However, I do take a little pride in it because I received a grade of 100% from my teacher, so it can’t be that bad… right?  Well, you can let me know what you think in the comments 😉

The Electoral College in America

In the United States of America, the President and Vice President are elected into office by an Electoral College rather than by the popular vote of the American people.  The Electoral College is supposed to be a fair representation of the citizens, as written into The U.S. Constitution – Article II, Section 1.  The idea to have an Electoral College as the means of electing our President and Vice President originated in 1787 during The Constitutional Convention and was signed into law thereafter.  Each state’s number of electors is determined by its number of members in the House of Representatives and one for each of its two U.S. Senators. There are currently 538 electors in the Electoral College.

When originally put into place, the writers of the Electoral College created the system “as a compromise between having the President elected by Congress and having the President elected by the popular vote of qualified citizens” ([1]).  My understanding is that the founding fathers were afraid of direct democracy and this was their way of preventing any majority of the population from taking over the country. When the founding fathers were writing The Constitution and enacted the Electoral College I can understand their fear of having one group of people take over the country. They feared aristocracy and wanted to avoid being ruled by a monarchy.

There were far fewer citizens in the United States in 1787 than there are today and it may have seemed feasible for one group of people to unite against the rest of the country. Today we have a population of over 324 million people ([2]) and the thought of our President and Vice President being officially elected by only 538 of those people does not seem representative of the current population. The way the system is set up, it is possible for a candidate to win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote and therefore lose the election. That does not seem right to me. We are told that every vote matters when actually it’s only the electors’ votes that matter in the end. I do not believe the Electoral College is relevant in our society today based on this information.


[1] Robert Longley, “How The US Electoral College System Works”, About.com, 9/10/16, usgovinfo.about.com/od/thepoliticalsystem/a/electcollege.htm

[2] http://www.census.gov/popclock/

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8 thoughts on “America’s Electoral College

  1. Well done and to the point. I would add that in the historical context of the authors of the Constitution and politics of getting it ratified, part of the purpose of the Electoral College was for some degree of representation of States as such in the process. It would be interesting to make a list of the elections which would have gone the other way without the College and how they might have changed the course of the nation (Bush v Gore comes to mind). There might be a rich trove of ideas there for authors of alternative history novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. On one hand I agree, but seeing the degree to which people can be affected by cognitive dissonance and reject facts and reality, I remain uncertain whether it would be a good idea to scrap the electoral college. sighs…

    Like

  3. The EC probably also reflects a time when it took forever and a day to get information from town to town and state to state to tally the results. Now, we have near-instant results when the polls close which should be another nail in the coffin of the EC. It doesn’t make any sense that most anything else we vote on (ballot measures, governors, senators, etc) is done by popular vote, but when it comes to president we have a totally different system that is completely antiquated. And good job with your essay, sounds like you do actually know your stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

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