Contrary to what you’re lead to believe, the election of a President is not decided on election night by news anchors with big screens contacting election headquarters. In fact, President-Elect Obama just won the election January 8, 2009. The vote was 365 to 173 in favor of Pres-Elect Obama over Sen. McCain.
The Electoral College and Direct Election
The framers of our Constitution built into our system of election the idea of an Electoral College to protect our electoral process. Indeed, I have read that it was never fully the intention of the framers to have elections like we have today—where there are basically two viable candidates that square off for the popular vote.
The system that is in place for the House and Senate to choose the President and Vice President should no one get the majority of electoral votes was envisioned to be the common route to the Presidency!
Should We Keep the Electoral College?
Every Presidential election (especially since 2000) we have seen someone calling for the abolishment of the electoral college in favor of a direct vote. Though this would definitely change how candidates campaign, it would also gloss over the reasons behind the system that we have.
How would it change the way candidates would campaign? No small state would see a candidate, whereas now it’s mostly the some of the larger states (like California, New York, and Texas) that never see the candidate. It would concentrate campaigning in metropolitan areas where the most votes would be had. It would also lend itself, even more (if you can believe it) to pandering and offering to throw money in all different directions.
So, Why Keep It?
Good question. The reason that it is there in the first place is as a buffer. People in good standing were supposed to be chosen as a check on Democracy. You see, the Founders knew something that we don’t tend to think about today. They understood mob morality, and that groups can be persuaded to choose something that isn’t the best.
Therefore, they needed to trust that if the people made a poor choice, the electors could fix it—the electors should elect based on their conscience.
Today, electors are chosen not for character or standing in the community, but for their affiliation with one of the major parties. Defections are rare, because they’re pledged partisans.
So, should we keep it, because of it’s original purpose, should we attempt some kind of reform, or face the facts that it’s broken and people don’t want it fixed?