Tampa, FL -
Understand and Defend the Electoral College
I am confident that during the current presidential election someone will want to abolish the Electoral College. One U.S. Senator has already suggested the abolishment. You may remember, in the 2000 election, Al Gore received 50,992,335 votes nationwide and George W. Bush received 50,455,156 votes. Bush received 537,179 less votes. After Bush was awarded the State of Florida, he had a total of 271 electoral votes, which beat Gore's 266 electoral votes. Interestingly, some thought Bush, the son of a former president, could win the popular vote, but that his opponent, Gore could win the Electoral College vote because Gore was leading in certain big states, such as California, New York and Pennsylvania.
Looking back, history records that only in four elections when the candidate who led the popular vote did not win the office. 1824: John Quincy Adams 1876: Rutherford Hayes 1888: Benjamin Harrison 2000: Al Gore
Today, a candidate must receive 270 of the 538 votes to win the election. In cases where no candidate wins a majority of the electoral votes, the decision is thrown to the House of Representatives by virtue of the 12th Amendment of the Constitution. The House then selects the president by majority vote with each state delegation receiving one vote to cast for the three candidates who received the most electoral votes. History records that only two times has the election been decided by the House of Representatives: Thomas Jefferson was elected in 1801 and John Quincy Adams was elected in 1825.
Sadly, many U.S. Citizens lack knowledge about many aspects of government, not a good reflection on citizenship and education. The fact that most people think they are voting for the president makes that point. Only in the case of the Electoral College is the blame put on the institution, rather than the ill-informed public. The "Hate Bush" feelings and expressions (which sadly continues to fester today) because they say Gore won the election, further fuels that point. Here are the indisputable facts, VS hype. The Electoral College is provided in Article II, Section one and the 23rd Amendment of our Constitution, the same Constitution loved by traditional Americans. Under the system, each state's power is representative of its population. So, while winning the popular vote may not ensure a candidate's victory, a candidate must gain popular support of a particular state to win the votes in that state. The goal (fairly) of any candidate is to put together the right combination of states that give him/ her 270 electoral votes.
What was the Founding fathers reasoning in providing the Electoral College? The Electoral College, a controversial mechanism of presidential elections, was a compromise for the presidential election process. Our Founding Fathers correctly understood, unlike many of us today, that in a purely popular election, a direct election system would give large states, with large populations vs. smaller states with dense populations an opportunity to run up the vote, and smaller states wouldn't matter. Citizens in those states would realize and rightly conclude their vote wouldn’t count , so why vote? The College system concedes some states to the party in power, due to their number of U.S. Representatives, but (carefully understand this) it eliminates any reason to run up the vote. Any fraud in the present system must be in swing states, where the parties can keep each other in check.
Very few democracies in the industrial world have a presidential system with direct election, where voters elect a president directly. In fact, France, Finland, and now Russia are the only examples.
It’s time to stand up for the Electoral College because, as always, it’s under attack. The mass liberal media, which does influence ill-informed citizens in a free press country, should stay out of it. But, every four years, the reporters and pundits repeat stock phrases about the Electoral College, "constitutional relic," "anachronism," and the notion the system is "thwarting the will of the people," which was, from the start a dirty politics, sour grapes complaint, wholly unfounded because the College represents the model of representative government that current "reformers" are advocating.
In the Electoral College each state has a number of electors equal to the number of its U.S. Senators (two in each state) plus the number of its U.S. Representatives, which varies according to the population. So states with larger populations have more weight. Currently, the Electoral College includes 538 electors, 535 for the states congressional members, and three who represent Washington, D.C. Every four years, on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November, millions of U.S. citizens go to local voting booths to elect, among the officials, the next president and vice-president of their country. Their votes will be recorded and counted, and winners will be declared. But the results of the popular votes are not guaranteed to stand because the Electoral College has not cast its vote.
The advent of the Electoral College was a brilliant thought of our Founding fathers. It serves the intended purpose well. I pray that traditional citizens will understand and defend it, ahead of party line thoughts we have been hearing recently. God Bless America
In God We Trust
Glenn A. Clepper
Columnist, Book Author, Patriot and Historian