The Electoral College

by Ben Kinchlow

      The Electoral College is not a school for electors. Neither is it a place from which the candidates graduate. All recognize this as "tongue in cheek".

      There are, however, some who inadvertently blur the distinction between a direct democracy and a federal republic, under which the United States operates.

      In a direct democracy, the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them, rather than by elected representatives.... in other words, direct election (the popular vote).

      In a federal republic, the supreme power is vested in the whole voting community, which elects representatives, indirectly or directly, to exercise this power... in other words, we elect people to represent us.

      We have heard much in recent days regarding the popular vote vs. the electoral vote. This has caused great consternation among some who supported the losing candidate. There have even been calls to abolish the "antiquated", "out-moded", "out of date" Electoral College, because it does not "accurately reflect the popular will". This may be a good place to point out that the Electoral College was never intended to reflect the national popular will. It was designed to contribute to the political stability of the nation, and protect the sovereignty of the states.

      It is the Electoral College that safeguards our federal system of government and representation. In our formal federal structure, important political powers are reserved to the states.

      Amendment X to the Constitution: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

      In the United States, the House of Representatives is designed to represent the states according to the size of their population. The Senate is designed to represent each state regardless of its population. The Electoral College is designed to represent each state's choice for the Presidency. (The number of each state's electoral votes is the number of its senators, plus the number of its representatives.)

      The Founding Fathers realized that a nationwide "popular election" would cut out the very heart of the federal structure laid out in our Constitution. Direct election was rejected, not because the framers of the Constitution had doubts about the intelligence of the voting public, but for concern that people would not have sufficient information to vote for the most qualified candidate. A direct vote would produce, at worst, a President without a majority sufficient to govern, or a President who would always be decided by the most populous states

      As a result, the Constitutional Convention proposed the indirect election of a President through a college of electors, chosen by a free national election. These electors, appointed by the states and chosen by the voters, would protect the sovereignty of the state and represent the majority opinion of the voters of that state, through a "winner take all" assignment of the electoral votes.

      America has voted, and we have elected a President and a Vice President. The issue is settled. The fact that the Electoral College has performed its function admirably in more than 50 Presidential elections over the past 200 years speaks eloquently of the genius of the Founding Fathers, and is a tribute to our form of government.