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The Irony of the Electoral College

Ruben Bolling
© Ruben Bolling

So, should we ever use the Electoral College for its intended purpose? Or should we abolish it? Otherwise it is just an anachronism that keeps causing problems.

Yes, it is undemocratic, but the founders intended it to be that way. In fact, the founders weren’t sure they trusted full-on democracy, and purposely limited it. So what’s more important now? Real democracy, or following the wishes of the people who wrote our constitution? Because it doesn’t look like we can have it both ways.



  1. Yudith wrote:

    In a full democracy, the president would be the one with the most votes, i.e. Hillary Clinton. If the electoral college is used as it should be, Trump would be impeached because of his obvious ties with Trump Enterprises and Russia and Hillary Clinton would take his place as president. So why the heck is Donald Trump president-elect? It’s like going “Since you like chocolate, do you want chocolate mousse or chocolate pudding?” “No, I want burned squash casserole for dessert.”

    Monday, December 5, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink
  2. Ralph wrote:

    A recent episode of The Takeaway, a daily new analysis show on WNYC and available as a free podcast, presented a show called “Your Complete Guide to The Electoral College”, which discussed the pros and cons of the system with two invited constitutional experts, including,

    Vikram Amar, dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, explains what the Electoral College system is designed to do and what the framers intended.

    Dr. Gary Gregg, the chair in leadership at the University of Louisville and director of the McConnell Center, says the Electoral College is here to stay, and that’s a good thing. “I think the Electoral College has sunk its tentacles deep into the American system in ways we don’t give it credit for and we don’t think about,” he says.

    Both guests presented compelling arguments for and against, but what I concluded from their arguments is that, indeed, the EC is not going away anytime soon, but individual states can neutralize or minimize its impact with focused legislation; i.e. it doesn’t require a constitutional amendment to render it essentially impotent and more representative of the popular vote.

    Interested listeners who don’t subscribe to the podcast can also find it online here:

    Monday, December 5, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink
  3. Ralph wrote:

    Sorry, that first sentence should read “news analysis”. The Takeaway has been on air and available as a podcast for several years now so is not exactly “new”, lol.

    It’s very good and highly recommended, also airs live at noon (EST) on your local NPR station.

    Monday, December 5, 2016 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  4. ThatGuy wrote:

    We have changed our system to directly elect Senators, it ought to be no different with electing our President. That voters in Wyoming are 3x more valuable than voters in New Jersey is silly. The EC made sense when states were, in fact, more sovereign entities joined together by the Constitution. Now the states, not unlike the world, are more interdependent, in ways that weren’t and couldn’t have been anticipated by the founders.

    Well, all that, and that we know the founders weren’t perfect, and realized perfectly well that they themselves were making compromises at the time (hello, slavery). While we can recognize the brilliance of a document and system that has endured for so long, we also know that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. We need, in my opinion, to do all we can to limit the friction between factions in our country, the easiest way (again, my opinion) is one person, one vote.

    Monday, December 5, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink
  5. Bobsuruncle wrote:

    Why is it that democracy is good enough for all our state positions?
    Just makes me sigh

    Monday, December 5, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink
  6. ebdoug wrote:

    Need 32 more to not vote for him

    Here is the first, a second in Texas resigned rather than vote for him.

    Monday, December 5, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  7. Dave TN wrote:

    From what I understand the elector that resigned will be replaced by the remaining electors. Not exactly the victory one could hope for. If the man truly wanted to have a conscience he should have stayed in the position and voted how he felt to be the best way forward. I tell my family to dream big but in this case I wont hold my breath for the extremely remote possibility that the apocalypse aint happening.

    Monday, December 5, 2016 at 8:16 pm | Permalink
  8. Dave TN wrote:

    addendum: Different elector, finally got around to reviewing some headlines. For the previous elector, see link below.

    Monday, December 5, 2016 at 9:12 pm | Permalink
  9. TJ wrote:

    I was kinda hoping that the electors would do their job and elect someone else, since this very election is their sole purpose for existing the last 250+ years. Not likely, but I can hope…

    Monday, December 5, 2016 at 9:33 pm | Permalink