Why does the Electoral College still exist, despite its contentious origins and awkward fit with modern politics? The old-school electoral system has its benefits. The Founding Fathers created the Electoral College after much debate and compromise, but it has provided stability to the process of picking presidents.

The system empowers states, especially smaller ones, because it incentivizes presidential candidates to appeal to places that may be far away from population centers. Farmers in Iowa may have very different concerns than bankers in New York. The current system of electing presidents takes that into account.

Additionally, if the president were elected by unfiltered national vote, small and rural states would become irrelevant, and campaigns would spend their time in large, populous districts, ignoring the interests of all the people.

For the founders, this solved a whole array of potential problems: the risk of leaving too much power in the hands of an ill-informed public.

Advocates of the Electoral College celebrate its check on the power that large cities would have in a purely popular-vote election.

The interests of the minority would no longer receive protection. The primary benefit of the Electoral College is that it works to protect the best interests of the minority in every election. The Electoral College forces consideration of all states, because all have electoral significance, elevating the importance of smaller states, which only seems fair.

Under the current structure of the United States, there are 50 unique presidential contests instead of one nationwide affair to elect a president. If the U.S. were to abolish the Electoral College, then the restrictions that territories experience against voting in this election would disappear.

Without the Electoral College in place, presidential candidates would build platforms that would speak to their base. Instead of having a regional focus that incorporates specific campaigning elements, there would be a national campaign instead. Iowa farmers might lose out to California union workers since their population numbers are larger. The small towns in the United States, along with all of the rural areas, would become marginalized if this system were to be entirely abolished. Eliminating the Electoral College could mean that some parts of the country never become part of the overall campaign.

(22) comments

threecents

Having not read any of the comments, let me bottom line this. Democrats are generally against continuing the Electoral College because they think every American should have an equal vote when choosing the president. Republicans are generally for it because it has put Bush and Trump in the White House, despite the fact that they lost popular votes. Because of this advantage that the EC gives them, Republicans will not let it go away. Sorry to frame this as good guys vs. bad guys, but that is the truth.

phydeaux994

***The fault lines in the debate lay between two cross-cutting divisions among the states at the Convention: one between large and small states, and one between slave-owning and free states.

It was this latter split that ended up being most salient in the Electoral College debate. The College's primary purpose was not to give small states greater representation, as is often claimed by its defenders today. Instead, the Electoral College was created to reflect the political realities associated with accommodating the institution of slavery into our electoral system.***

phydeaux994

In 1792 there were 13 States, most along the Atlantic Coast. The population of the Country was about 4 million. There were no big cities, no West Coast, no Iowa. The Founding Fathers had no clue about what America would become. The 3/5 compromise allowed slaves to be counted as population. The Electoral College made population the way to Elect the President and Virginia, a slave State and the largest of the 13 States by population, made a Virginian President for 32 of the first 36 years of the Presidency. Go figure!! The last two Presidents elected by the Electoral College and a minority of the voters has caused great harm to our Country, it is a voting system designed to appease the 7 “Slave States” so they would ratify the Constitution. It was evil then and it is evil now.

Awteam2021

Those ‘people’, citizens seem to get in the way of minority ruling over the majority. What’s up with that? “One’s singular vote is a hindrance, irrelevant.” It makes no sense to vote for a national candidate as a Republican in Maryland, they will definitely lose. But if my vote was included with Kentucky and West Virginia, I might win. No, that’s bad. We need government to regulate our votes, tell us how to vote, you need to govern how we vote and who, what counts, regardless of the popular vote.

Is that a “conservative or liberal”value? Or simply an attack on the principles of Democracy “one person, one vote”, or is this a straight up effort to restrict voting of those that might not agree with you? Today’s JimCrowe, like the hindrance that were placed on post reconstruction,Black’s in Southern states that had large Black populations were disenfranchised for decades, eventually we’ll fail. But cause a lot of continuing harm. It’s exhausting, stop, time to move on.

shiftless88

The author is incorrect that the EC makes politicians pay attention to places like Iowa. In fact because of winner-take-all EC processes states like Iowa are Republican always and California is Democrat always. It puts all the attention on a few swing states. How many times did Trump visit Washington or Oregon as opposed to Texas or Pennsylvania?

Awteam2021

Excellent point. 👍

JerryR

When you think that our forefathers thought this up when they were forming our country, it's freakin' genius, simply pure genius.

Awteam2021

Yep Jerry, slave states with smaller White populations had parity with more populated White northern states. Pure genius. I like the part that they could count slaves as 3/5th human in the census so they could gain more representation in the house, absolutely brilliant. Those where the days. It might back fire though. If Texas or/and Florida go blue in the next two election cycles, game over. I don’t think you’ll be singing 🎵” I wish I was in the land of cotton”🎶. Right?

Brookhawk

The writer is concerned about California overwhelming Iowa because it has more voters, but his solution (and what has been happening) is that Iowa overwhelm California because it has fewer voters? Sorry, that makes no sense. We are either a country, or we aren't. The Iowas are "protected" by having 2 senators, just like California. One person, one vote in presidential elections.

DickD

Republicans have abused the Electoral College by gerrymandering. Yes. Democrats have to a smaller amount but right now your votes are not getting equal weight due to the gerrymandering and the EC. The EC was originally set up as slaves were not counted equally to those not free. We need to change so everyone is getting equality for their votes.

public-redux

How in the world do gerrymandered congressional districts affect the EC?

gabrielshorn2013

Agreed public, and I have asked that question too. The EC has nothing to do with gerrymandering whatsoever. The EC is comprised of the sum of the number of Representatives and Senators. Those electors are currently required to vote for the winner of their state elections for president.

Awteam2021

Question asked... you may agree with the question but you may not agree with the answer.

Gabe, can I explain how the EC has something to do with our archaic system of electing the President, a non-democratic obstacle course to win the executive branch of government. It’s clearly not “one person, one vote. Right? “Will my argument be okay to make or totally offsetting?

DickD

And gerrymandering allows Republicans more representatives in the Electoral College.

public-redux

Dick,

What???

The EC is not comprised of congressional representatives.

sevenstones1000

The Senate already gives outsized power to small states. We don’t need an executive branch that does the same. One person, one vote. It doesn’t get any fairer than that.

DickD

Amen! Seven.

gabrielshorn2013

No seven, it gives parity to the small states. The house is represented proportionally, and the Senate gives parity. It was a great compromise (The Connecticut Compromise) that brought it about. Without parity in the Senate, the small states would continually be overridden by the large states.

Awteam2021

... Or more people.

specialelaw

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/02/gop-senators-havent-represented-a-majority-since-1996.html

The question is whether this kind of parity is worth preserving. But agreed on earlier comments, it is not an EC issue. This is a much deeper and intractable issue.

phydeaux994

Quit makin’ stuff up gab. Your intellectual explanations are funny at best and pure 🐂💩 at worst, definitely tilted toward the latter. The EC and the 3/5 Compromise were a necessary appeasement to the Southern States to gain the 9 States needed to ratify the Constitution. End of Story. Peace.✌️😷

gabrielshorn2013

Oh bless your little ole heart phy. Please show me where I have "made stuff up". Maybe take a few US history courses, or read some books. You certainly don't read the links to the information I provide for you. The Connecticut Compromise set up a bicameral legislature, with the House as representative, and the Senate on parity. Where is the error there? Provide a reference if you can. Should the Senate also be representative? Shall the political will of the smaller states be totally ignored? It is the parity of the Senate that gives the smaller States any clout. The EC is the sum of the representation of both houses of Congress, correct? Where is the error, and provide a reference to your opinion. The 3/5 Compromise was an appeasement to the Southern States? Those States wanted slaves to count as 100% of a person, but the North wanted them to count as 0%, because the populations of the Southern States were larger at the time if slaves were counted as Southern States wanted them to be. So who was appeased?

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