“We’ve heard a lot of different “personal interpretations” of the reason for the Electoral College but why do we really have it?
Brief History & Overviewf
Back when the United States became the United States of America rather than Colonies there was originally the plan that the ‘few’ would select the ‘one’ (The Virginia Plan) and was actually used during the Constitutional Convention (1787) to select the next President.
The trouble is that this was seen, by many in the new Government, as possibly being viewed as corrupt by the people of the new country. By September 6th of 1787 a committee was formed to look at a way of electing a President that included the people of the USA.
In fact it was James Madison that described the method of electing a President and our government using a college system where he suggested combining a State and Population method of election and later on Alexander Hamilton was the one that laid out the advantages of the Electoral College which was “to avoid a party run legislator” that could be biased by an external force or another country. By Party Run he didn’t mean as in Democrat or Republican, to imply so would be a lie. It meant as in a group of the same people over and over that maintained total control of the whole process and would allow external forces to potentially put influence on our legislature or President etc.
James Madison also argued that they needed to avoid “an interested and overbearing majority” and the “Mischief of factions”, essentially what he is arguing against is the issue that could arise from a few large states with a bias towards a single candidate overwhelming the total vote and removing the voice from smaller states.
Note that at no time was the reason for the Electoral College (the process) anything at all to do with the time it took for vote counts to be notified because of horse or carriage travel time. This is falsehood number one that is being bandied about.
Alexander Hamilton really put the argument perfectly by saying that By having each state having an independent election separate from all others it would stop corruption in a single state from tainting the majority of the voters.
Literally Hamilton made it clear that by having each state have their own separate votes rather than a popular vote among the people it stopped corruption of the whole vote process if a single state (note that this was before the United States had massive states with mammoth populations) had a vote that was corrupted or was fraudulent then it would have limited impact on the rest of the votes.
While we use the name Electoral College today it was not used anywhere until 1845 when it was termed and became a common reference to the process of Presidential Election.
Note at no time was the Electoral College vote designed to take away the voice of the majority, this is also a falsehood that can be called falsehood number two. It was designed specifically to avoid a biased group or groups in any single state from overwhelming the votes in smaller less populated states.
Another falsehood is that it is designed to take away the voice from the non-elites or as some have claimed the minorities, since very few non-elites, very few women (yes they did have a vote if they were landowners) and at that time there was minority races with a vote, granted not a lot but there was. We should call this falsehood number three. Also we have not continued to use the Electoral college because it denies a voice to minority races or the poor or women or anyone else.
We continue to use the Electoral College for the very same reason that it was designed for, because for better or worse it still works. Admittedly it has it’s flaws and I have previously argued that every single state should use proportional representation to allocate their Electoral College Votes and I would go further and say that rather than divide up the votes for the two leading over all states that the Electoral college should be a Winner Takes All system with every person on the ballot for an individual state gets Electoral College votes and that once all the votes are in the winner of the Presidency is simply the one that has the highest number of Electoral College Votes. When I did a tally in my argument piece based on the two largest parties in the vote, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump the results would have been the same under my proportioning for the two highest vote getters only in each state, maybe the result would have been different under my revised thinking I have suggested in this paragraph, I’m not going to revisit it, maybe someone will.
Again, while I may not agree with all of Donald Trump’s policies, I didn’t agree with all of Hilllary Clinton’s or Bernie Sanders manifesto’s either, I do believe that once a president is elected you should at least respect the voting system enough to give that president a chance to prove themselves worthy of the task of acting as head of the Executive Branch of our legislature.