Tag: elections in UK

Choosing The Next President- Truth About The Electoral College

Choosing The Next President- Truth About The Electoral College

Over two years ago, a minority of voters put someone in the highest political position for our country. Nearly twenty years ago, a minority of voters put someone in the highest political position for our country. On six occasions in United States history, a minority of voters put someone in the highest political position for the country. How and why can this happen? The Electoral College is the reason.

Electoral College

Origin of the Electoral College

The following are typical rationale attributed to the adoption of the Electoral College by our founders:

Electoral College
  • Create a separation between the population and election of a President—The founding fathers feared direct election by voters, concerned an individual without regard for the best for the country could manipulate public opinion and achieve the Presidency.
  • Feared the general population of the sparsely-populated, new country would vote for a local, familiar candidate since information about candidates in other states would be difficult to obtain.
  • Provide more influence for smaller states—Appease smaller states concerned about having little influence on the presidential election because of their population.
  •  Have the most informed and knowledgeable individuals from each state select the president based solely on merit.
  • National campaigns were considered inappropriate—gentlemen should not campaign. “The office should seek the man. The man should not seek the office.)

The Electoral College Today

Electoral College

The most significant change in the electoral college today is state requirements to mandate all Electoral College delegates to cast their votes for the candidate with the majority of votes in that state. The only two states that do not have a “winner take all” system for Electoral College delegates are Maine and Nebraska.

Electoral College
Pizza While Waiting In Long Lines To Vote

Seemingly, states tried to move closer to true voter representation by requiring delegates vote the way of the majority in their individual states, so why do we still have the electoral college? These are some of the reasons stated by current politicians:

  • “Though occasionally maligned, this system of electing the chief executive has been successful for the American people…Over 200 years if success.”
  • “The system empowers states, especially smaller ones, because it incentivizes presidential candidates to appeal to places that may be far away from population centers.”
  • “If the president were elected by unfiltered national vote, small and rural states would become irrelevant, and campaigns would spend their time in large, populous districts.
  • “While they’re clear problems with the Electoral College and there are some advantages to it, changing it is very unlikely. I would take a constitutional amendment ratified by ¾ of states to change the system…unfortunately the party that has the advantage in the state is unlikely to agree to a unilateral change.”

How are the Prime Ministers Selected in the U.K. and Australia?

As benchmark comparators to our country’s leader selection process, I thought it interesting to summarize those used in two other countries. Why the U.K. and Australia? Simple…following people from the U.S., those from the U.K. and Australia most often view my posts. (Although at this point in time, the most often viewed is my post on Plastic Cheese which has little to do with politics.)

Electoral College

U.K.—During a general election, local areas of the country elect an MP (Member of Parliament) from one of the parties by a simple majority of votes. These MP represent their area in the House of Commons. The party with the most representatives in the House of Commons forms the government and the leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister. Technically, the Queen invites that party’s leader to become the Prime Minister.

Electoral College

Australia—Interestingly, the Australian Constitution specifies that the executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen (of England) and delegated to the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative. In practice, the Prime Minister (position not mentioned in the constitution) is the head of the government. The leading party for House of Representatives in Parliament decides on the Prime Minister. Traditionally, that individual is the leader of the party. Members of the House of Representatives are elected by an absolute majority of votes from 150 electorates in the country. Each electorate covers an average of 100,000 voters. Registration to vote and voting are required by law in Australia.

So, both the U.K. and Australia, as is the United States, are not true democracies for selecting their top leader.

Is The Electoral College The Right System?

After reading the points that follow, see if you come to the same conclusion I did.

  • There were several reasons the 1787 Constitutional Convention decided on the electoral college format, but protecting smaller states was not one of them. Some feared direct democracy but that was only one consideration. Direct election for the president posed an issue for slave states. They had large populations but fewer eligible voters (slaves could not vote.) The electoral college would allow representation for presidential election by population, not voters. The Convention agreed to count each slave as three-fifths of a person. For example, Virginia which had the largest population in the 13 original states would have more say for choosing the president with an Electoral College system then by popular vote. The framers of the Constitution protected the interests of the smaller states by creating the Senate which gives every state two votes regardless of population.
  • Factors were vastly different in 1787. The map below shows what our country looked like then.
Electoral College

Note: North Carolina and Rhode Island had not yet ratified the Constitution so were therefore ineligible to choose electors. The New York legislature was deadlocked so therefore no electors were chosen. Vermont is not included on the map because at the time it was a separate independent nation.

It was made up of thirteen large and small states, each jealous of their rights and powers and untrusting of a central, national government. The United States population was only four million distributed along a thousand miles of Atlantic seaboard, transportation and communication being weak. National campaigns were impractical even if desirable.

  • Additional distortion to the Electoral College concept has been fostered by the requirement for all delegates in a state being required to vote for the candidate who wins most votes in that state. As mentioned earlier, all but two states have instituted that mandate. If 51 percent of a state’s population votes for a candidate, the votes of the 49 percent of that state are discounted for election of the president. This has the potential to elect a president that is popular only in most large metropolitan areas but not rural.

We have had two cases in the past twenty years where a President has been elected by a minority of votes from the general population. Regardless of personal opinion about those individuals elected to office, they were not the choice of the American people. Given current state of “instant communication” across the United States, there is no longer any compelling rationale for an Electoral College system.

For Additional Information:

Five Myths About the Electoral College-Washington Post

Reasons For The Electoral College-William C. Kimberling, Deputy Director FEC


I am a fiction writer, but research topics and provide posts like the one above for enlightenment and entertainment. If you liked it, please take a look at some of my other posts and my home page, R. A. Andrade. This post was prompted by the following passage in my novel, Three Remain:

“The storm theory, however improbable, does have some plausibility,” Sunshine commented. “As I see it, we have the option of staying put, exploring the area bounded by the fog, or trying to penetrate through the fog.”

“I vote for trying to get through the fog,” Glen offered first.

Sunshine agreed, then turned to Traci, and asked, “What do you think?”

“Really, you’re asking me? It looks spooky, but maybe I can get a text out on the other side.”