The Electoral College is a necessary part of the election process. You will hear critics argue that it takes power away from the American public, and gives the decision of who our next President will be to the States. How is that a Democracy? How is it right that a candidate could win the popular vote of the American People, but not be appointed President? The answer comes in three simple facts. The Electoral College represents American ideals in government, it eliminates corrupt bargaining between politicians, and preserves Federalism.
Before we really begin, how does the Electoral College work? Every four years, on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November, something happens that determines who leads out nation. Presidential elections! Americans from all over the nation will cast their vote for who they think should be the next President of the United States, but the President may not necessarily be the winner of the Popular vote. The Electoral college is the group who really decides who our new leader will be. Voters elect electors who will go to Washington to form the Electoral college. Each State gets a number of electors equal to the number of their Representatives in the House plus their Senators in the Senate. On the Monday after the second Wednesday in December, these electors cast their own vote for who the next president will be. Their votes are then sealed and delivered to the current Vice-President who will open and tally them on January 6th. Most electors will cast their vote to reflect the way the majority in their State voted, while some vote based on party. In only a few rare instances has the Popular vote ever varied from the Electoral Vote. It’s also important to note that a candidate must also receive a minimum of 270 electoral votes, and that if no candidate can secure the minimum number of votes, and no clear majority leader is seen, the decision goes to the House of Representatives to figure out.
The Electoral College was written into the Constitution with the sole intent to keep the American people from directly electing their next President. On July 19, 1787, Delegate Gerry said, “The people are uninformed, and would be misled by a few designing men.” The Founding Fathers did not believe that the American people were capable of making the correct decision, so elections were set up just like the rest of the new Government. The beauty of the government of the United States is that it is a Representative Democracy, or a system where people elect representatives to make decisions for them. In Congress, every new law is not voted on by the American Public. The elected representatives assembled in the House of Representatives and the Senate vote on bills to become laws. Under this system, candidates who have been selected by the people of the United States cast their electoral votes for who they believe would be the best President. These representatives are a good indication of how the people in their State would vote anyway, as those people were the ones who elected the representatives.
The Electoral College prevents the corrupt bargaining of unscrupulous politicians. Politicians are allowed to trade their Popular votes. If one candidate needed 4% of the vote to win, and a third party had an “extra” 5%, he could simply make a deal saying, “If you make me a member of your cabinet, and let me do the things that I want while I’m there, I’ll give you my part of the vote.” Another benefit is that it also prevents massive voter fraud. Even if the state of California were to have 500,000 extra votes (in an attempt to swing the Popular vote) it would have absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the election. California still only has 55 electoral votes to work with.
Federalism is preserved through the Electoral College. If it weren’t for the Founding Fathers and their keen insight, then candidates would only campaign in densely populated areas. All of the efforts in a Presidential campaign would be focused in the big states like New York, California, and Texas where the majority of the population lives. With the Electoral College, a small State may have less power through the House of Representatives, but the Senate is an equalizer. In this way, the Majority groups in the United States don’t become a Tyranny. This is the way the Founding Fathers planned it to be. The entire reason for the rebellion and creation of the new nation was to escape a land and government where only the majority groups held power. Separation of Powers was very important to the Founding Fathers, and that is precisely what they created in our Government.
The Electoral College is a vital part of the American system of election. It preserves Federalism, represents the American ideals of Government, and prevents the corrupt bargaining of different lobbying politicians. It was engineered to provide a separation of powers in the election of the President. Critics may complain that the Electoral College does not truly reflect the wants and needs of the American people as a whole, but if you look at the record, the outcome of the Popular and Electoral votes have only had a different outcome twice in American History. The Electoral College is one of the few institutions that has remained largely unchanged by the American people since the time of the Founding Fathers, and it will last for many centuries to come.