A Case for the Electoral College

The Constitution of the United States of America states that in order to be elected President of the United States, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast by the Electoral College. Usually, the individual who wins the national popular vote, which is officially meaningless, also wins the general election. However, five times in the history of the country, the presidential candidate who won the popular vote did not become President of the United States, after failing to secure a majority of the electoral votes. In each of the five instances: 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and most recently 2016, the runner-up in the popular vote went on to serve as President of the United States. While the process was different in each situation, ranging from a vote in the House of Representatives to a Supreme Court ruling to an unquestionable electoral majority, the result was the same; the loser of the vote became the winner of the election.

Some argue that because the candidate chosen by the most people does not become President, the Electoral College is flawed, and should be repealed. A direct popular vote, it is argued, is the best method of electing the nation’s leader. However, in a country as vast and diverse as the United States, this is a highly exclusionary perspective to hold.

The Electoral College prevents any one region of the country from dominating an election. In order to win, a candidate needs to do more than appeal to every Republican in the South or every Democrat on the West Coast. Instead, they need to have a message that rings true for voters across the country. What matters most to teachers in Florida is different from what matters most to farmers in Iowa, or factory laborers in Michigan and Ohio. New Hampshire and Colorado are two very different states in two very different parts of the country, but the concerns of both are equally as important. Rather than allowing for only those living in states with massive cities, such as New York and California, to determine the outcome of an election, Midwestern states are given a voice, too. Our country is simply too large, and too diverse to have the outcomes of elections determined by sheer popular vote.

It is the intention of the federal government to prevent the will of the majority from dominating over the rights of the minority, and the Electoral College was implemented according to this philosophy. It is for this same reason that the Supreme Court has held in favor of single-member Congressional Districts. As for whether or not the country is currently living up to the promise to protect the rights of minority factions is another matter entirely. But so far as the Electoral College is concerned, the American people are far better off keeping the system than casting it aside.

Disclaimer: I voted for Hillary Clinton.