The greatest weakness in our Constitution lies in the manner in which we choose our President. The Electoral College, created for the purpose of choosing our President, has long past its “pull date” and no longer serves its intended purpose. In a democratic republic, the people are supposed to choose their leaders – not choose someone else to make the choice for them. Yet, that is what we do and have done since the founding of our nation.
The Electoral College was created as a compromise at a time when no national leader had ever been chosen by popular vote and the founders were afraid of mob rule. They also feared that allowing Congress to choose the President would lead to corruption. The compromise consisted of each state choosing electors1 from prominent citizens who would then cast votes for President and Vice President.
The system had many defects among which were that the people were not allowed to vote for their President and that only adult male property owners were permitted to vote2 for those who would. (This automatically excluded women and slaves.) The voting restrictions on women and slaves have been removed3, but the Electoral College still does not reflect the will of the people.
That the Electoral College does not reflect the will of the people is evidenced by the fact that in five separate elections, the Electoral College has overturned the popular vote. This has happened twice in the last six elections alone. In addition, the Electoral College with its “winner take all” rule undermines public confidence in our presidential elections. It does so by disenfranchising votes for losing candidates in the states, by discouraging voters when elections are not close in their states, and in the end by choosing Presidents not supported by the popular vote. Furthermore it encourages candidates to favor states where they believe they can win over electors.
In the most recent election the Electoral College has shown itself to be dangerous to our system of government as it enabled the President and several members of his political party to attempt to thwart the will of the people by overturning legitimate Electoral College votes both during the election and later during the counting in Congress on January 64. The latter, which resulted in the storming of the Capitol on the day of the counting, could not have taken place if there were no Electoral College.
The President of the United States represents all the people of the nation. Only the people, not a select few, but all the people, have the right to choose the President. To protect our Republic, we must amend the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College and rely entirely on the popular vote in choosing our President. The Electoral College, in addition to serving no useful purpose, has shown itself to be dangerous to our system of government as well as unrepresentative of the will of the people. There is nothing democratic about it. It needs to go.
1 In proportion to their population,
2 In ridiculing the limitation to property owners, Ben Franklin wrote: “Today a man owns a jackass worth fifty dollars and he is entitled to vote; but before the next election the jackass dies. The man in the meantime has become more experienced, his knowledge of the principles of government, and his acquaintance with mankind, are more extensive, and he is therefore better qualified to make a proper selection of rulers — but the jackass is dead and the man cannot vote. Now gentlemen, pray inform me, in whom is the right of suffrage? In the man or in the jackass?”
3 While all voting restrictions have been legally removed, voter suppression is still rampant in certain parts of the country.
4 The Electoral College was used twice by Donald Trump – the first time overturning the popular vote to gain the presidency and the second time in an attempted coup d’etat.