The Electoral College is the system used to elect a president. Contrary to Democratic National Committee Chairmen, Tom Perez, the Electoral College is in the Constitution. You would think that the head of one of our nation’s political parties would know this. Perez said, “The Electoral College is not a creation of the Constitution. It doesn’t have to be there.” But it is there in Article II of the Constitution.
It’s hardly surprising that Perez doesn’t know this since he and his party rarely pay attention to the Constitution they took an oath to uphold. The same can be said for a majority of Republicans.
The Electoral College is made up of five hundred and thirty-eight votes. These votes are divided up among all fifty states and the District of Columbia. The number of votes for a state is determined by adding the state’s two senators with the number of U.S. representatives. For example, the State of Georgia has eleven representatives, and it also has two senators (like every other state). This would give Georgia thirteen electoral votes. No state has fewer than three votes. The candidate that gets the most votes in the state gets all the electoral votes, even if that candidate wins by a single vote. To win the presidency, a candidate must win a total of 270 electoral votes.
For and Against
The case against keeping the Electoral College includes the fact that a candidate can win the popular vote but not the presidency and that people are more informed than they were two hundred years ago. The case for keeping the Electoral College includes several facts. First, by keeping the Electoral College, it makes a candidate have a nationwide campaign which does not leave the majority of rural populations out. Second, it gives smaller states a voice. The states created the national government not the people generally. Third, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments indicate that states have ultimate say over unconstitutional provisions. Fourth, it prevents candidates from appealing to the interests of people from high populace states that would end up government the majority of the nation (e.g., California, Texas, and New York). For example, New York City has a population of more than 8.5 million people, greater than 39 states.
The primary argument of the anti-Electoral College crowd is that the popular vote loser can still win the presidency. Winning by large margins in states with fewer electoral votes and losing by narrow margins in most of the larger electoral prizes usually accomplishes this. This happened in 1824 when Andrew Jackson received 37,000 more votes than John Quincy Adams but not enough electoral votes to win the election. It happened again in 1876 and 1888. To most Americans, this does not seem fair. We like to think that the most popular person should win.
We’re Not a Democracy
Contrary to what most Americans believe, we do not live in a pure democracy. The United States is a republic as provided for in Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution which states, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of Government….” Constitutionally, the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court represent the interests of the states, not the people in general.
To be sure, there are democratic elements in our republican form of government (the popular vote). There are also monarchical elements (the presidency), but we do not call ourselves a monarchy. There is even an oligarchic component (the Supreme Court), but we do not describe ourselves as an oligarchy. The term that best describes our government would be a constitutional republic. When we vote, we vote for people who will represent us in Washington D.C. in terms of a written Constitution which serves as a contract binding them to vote in terms of the Constitution. Elected officials take an oath to uphold the Constitution. They do not take an oath to vote in terms of the will of the people. The people can change the Constitution through an amendment process…