Tag Archives: Electoral College

Ending the Electoral College

Constitution of the United States of America

For the past several weeks we have been hearing about getting ride of the Electoral College. This is not going to happen. Why do I say that so emphatically? With such certainty? Easily I know both why we have the Electoral College and just how hard it is to amend the Constitution. Let’s start with the hard and go to the why.

First, to amend the Constitution (see Article V) you need to get 2/3 of both houses of congress (292 in the House and 67 in the Senate) to agree to the amendment. Not easy to do. Don’t believe me just look into the history of the effort to repeal Prohibition, something much easier for people to understand. Next you need to get 2/3 (34) of the States to agree to the amendment. Just think about it for a moment, you are asking the 17 of the to give up that which makes their votes significant. You are asking them to accept the tyranny of the populous (read big) states.

So that is the hard, now the why. Why did we create the Electoral College in the first place? We did it because the low population states, states as different as South Carolina and New Hampshire. States who have only their small size in common. They were concerned that Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia could elect the president with just a little help from states like Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Additionally the writers of the Constitution were quite concerned about rule of the mob. They wanted some way to check the popular vote when it might select a demagogue. Except for state law Electors are free to vote for who ever they want. Even someone who was not even on the ballot. This have never been done but it is possible.

So, what can we do? Right now there is a movement to get the several States to pass a law that directs their Electors to vote for who ever wins the majority of popular vote nation wide. I do not agree with this just on principle. I do not like, fundamentally, ‘winner take all’ elections. I recommend a law that would proportion a state’s elector votes. This would still keep some protection for the small states while eliminating most of the problem we have now.