When growing up I had understood that there was one, man one vote. This is what made America special when electing the local, state and federal officials to include the president and the vice president. It is said that Samuel Colt made all men equal. It is also the vote that likewise made man equal.
As I grew up I began to hear about something called the Electoral College and then began hearing how this organization is what elected the president. How could one man, one vote be a part of something so archaic as this college thing? Then recently we had an election where the popular vote did not elect the president but instead the majority of electoral college votes chose the winner. Suddenly an epiphany hit me after so many years of questioning the wisdom of electoral votes. I was raised hearing about states’ rights and the sovereignty of a state and how the unique laws, customs, norms and traditions of each state must be preserved. It is a desire that states have a fair voice in the person that will lead the country and the Electoral College is the method adopted by our founding fathers when authoring the constitutionof theUnitedStates. Actually the term Electoral College was never a part of the writings of the constitution. The representatives that would determine the President of the United States were referred to as electorals. It was not until years after the adoption of the method to select the president and the vice president that the term electoral college entered the vernacular of our nation’s political landscape.
When the constitution was being written the founding fathers had to develop a way to elect the country’s national officials. There was no road map for this. America would be the first to elect the leader of the nation. The Constitutional Convention originally planned to use the Virginia Method to select the President of the United States. This method would have the United States Congress select the President. The proposal went to a committee to work out the details. The committee changed the recommendation and came up with a different method to select the president and the vice president of the United States. The states would vote for the president and elect electorals who would then vote for the president. America was being molded into a Representative Democracy that we have today and not a pure Democracy that many believe we have. The number of electoral votes accorded an individual state is based on the number of congressmen and senators in a given state. This method was adopted by the Constitutional Convention.
In a effort to convince the citizens of America that they need to adopt the Constitution as the Law of the Land, several leaders of our founding fathers wrote a series of papers to help the populace understand the historic document.
In the Federalist Paper # 49 James Madison argued “the Constitution was designed to be a mixture of state-based and population-based government. Congress would have two houses: the state-based Senate and the population-based House of Representatives. Meanwhile, the president would be elected by a mixture of the two modes.”
In the Federalist Paper #68 Alexander Hamilton identified the advantages to the Electoral College. “The electors come directly from the people and them alone for that purpose only, and for that time only. This avoided a party-run legislature, or a permanent body that could be influenced by foreign interests before each election.” Hamilton explained how the election was to be held by the states. This would insure that corruption in any one state would not taint “the great body of the people” in their selection.
So how does a person with less popular votes win the presidential election? All states except Nebraska and Maine adopted a winner-take-all method of selecting their Electoral College members. If a candidate wins five states by only 500 votes in each state, the candidate gets all the Electoral College votes. Then if the other candidate destroys the first candidate in another state, the second candidate gets more popular votes but only the Electoral College votes from one state. The first candidate wins with a majority of Electoral College votes but with less popular votes from the individual voters.
The 2016 election was not the first election where the president was elected with the majority of electoral votes, but with a minority of the popular vote. It happened in 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016.
I recently heard a presidential candidate declare that the Electoral College should be eliminated. This perplexed me as the candidate was very intelligent and not only a United States Senator but also a professor from Harvard. She understood state’s rights. She understood that the Electoral College prevented the foreign intervention in our government; the same intervention that she accused the sitting president of committing. She also understood that the president is elected by a combination of population-based and state-based methods. So why would she want to eliminate the method of presidential election that was put in place by our founding fathers? By eliminating the electoral college the President would then be elected by large population areas such as California and New York and rural America would be left out and eventually indentured to the whims of the high populated and liberal centers of America.
2020 is going to be interesting.
Tuffy Fields may be reached by emailing email@example.com .