The Electoral College

The Electoral College

The following is taken from an earlier post: “Critics argue that the Electoral College is inherently undemocratic and gives swing states disproportionate influence in electing the President and Vice President. The Electoral College gives a numeric advantage in the election of the president to the smaller states, as the minimum number of electors for the small states is three compared to one for the election of representatives. On the other hand, the winner-take-all method of voting favors the larger states. On four occasions, most recently in 2000, the Electoral College system has resulted in the election of a candidate who did not receive the most popular votes in the election. A number of constitutional amendments have been proposed seeking to alter the Electoral College or replace it with a direct popular vote.”

Currently 18 states control the destiny of elections with 63% of the votes. Money is a significant factor in determining the winner and as a result the most populated states receive the lion’s share of campaign funding. In the last 125 years there have only been two elections where the winner of the EC did not win the popular vote, both Republicans. The most recent example was in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump where he won 56% of the EC, but only 46% of the popular vote. In fact, his opponent secured just under 3 million more  popular votes!

The EC was a practical solution when it was established over 200 years ago. Gathering, counting ballots & combining the results was problematic given the distances involved among the states. The EC just made sense. In the electronic age the problems of distribution no longer exist. It appears to me that there is no valid reason keeping the voters from making the decision on whom is to be President.

Recent polls indicate that over 60% of voters are in favor of abolishing the EC.

Gallup trends show that Republicans were far less supportive than Democrats of abolishing the Electoral College in late 2000, when Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush had lost the popular vote, but was fighting a legal battle to win Florida and therefore the Electoral College. Since then, however, Republicans have gradually become less protective of the Electoral College, to the point that by 2011, a solid majority of Republicans were in favor of abolishing it.

I do wonder why no action is taken to make this change? There are two reasons: 1. It would require a constitutional amendment, which is near impossible. 2. A state can decide to apportion the EC votes in the ratio of the popular votes. This only is effective if all states do this and so far only two states have taken this action: Maine & Nebraska. States resist this as the thinking is that it diminishes the impact of a candidate winning the state and the states influence on the outcome.