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In defense of the Electoral College

November 8, 2012

Since the election on Tuesday I’ve been seeing people talk about getting rid of the Electoral College with the desire to move to a popular vote system. People don’t understand the Electoral College, therefore they don’t like it. It’s my belief that a popular vote system would only serve the powerful elite and would not be good for the preservation of the union.

The framers of the Constitution wanted a form of government that would reflect the people but also respect the minority. The system they set up allows the majority to rule, but only when it is reasonable. It also allows the minority to throw up road blocks. The Electoral College while not the perfect system is an excellent system that provides the coexistence of these provisions.

The Electoral College encourages moderation, and compromise. A presidential candidate must appeal to a broad range of people. Appeal to extremists or pandering to regional interests in the country will not likely win.

The system makes it very difficult to contest elections. Take the 2000 General Election for example. Even though it was the first time in more than 100 years that a candidate won the Electoral College while losing the popular vote; the Electoral College allowed us to isolate the problem and deal with it on a micro level. Without the system the problem would have been a nationwide recount.

The Electoral College also prevents massive voter fraud. By limiting the number of electoral votes it isolates voter fraud to a particular state and its electoral votes.

It encourages a two party system. It encourages a “union” rather than disunion. If it is merely by popular votes there is any reason to work together, there would no longer be two parties or three or four, 50 maybe more? The result of a direct popular election for president, then, would likely be frayed and unstable political system characterized by a multitude of political parties and by more radical changes in policies from one administration to the next. The Electoral College system, in contrast, encourages political parties to coalesce divergent interests into two sets of coherent alternatives. Such an organization of social conflict and political debate contributes to the political stability of the nation. (This is also why it’s not the major crisis that people make it out to be when their choice didn’t win.)

“Indeed, if we become obsessed with government by popular majority as the only consideration, should we not then abolish the Senate which represents States regardless of population? Should we not correct the minor distortions in the House (caused by districting and by guaranteeing each State at least one Representative) by changing it to a system of proportional representation? This would accomplish “government by popular majority” and guarantee the representation of minority parties, but it would also demolish our federal system of government. If there are reasons to maintain State representation in the Senate and House as they exist today, then surely these same reasons apply to the choice of president. Why, then, apply a sentimental attachment to popular majorities only to the Electoral College?”

Adapted from these sources:

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