75 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 8 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Getting Rid of the Electoral College by Keeping It

By       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   1 comment
Message Alexander Belenky



As the 2008 election nears, many Americans express concerns about the rules of presidential elections.

The Founding Fathers devised the Electoral College as an "intermediate, independent Congress" to be appointed every four years to choose a President.

Yet, this election mechanism has transformed into an outlandish mathematical scheme, weirdly aggregating American votes, not cast for presidential candidates but determining which of these candidates wins.

Citizens from each state and DC vote only for competing slates of presidential electors. Though each elector from the winning slate is supposed to favor the presidential candidate heading the slate, it's not a must, attesting to the deliberative nature of the Electoral College's initial design.

This makes the election outcome dangerously dependent on the voting behavior of electors and leaves the country with two puzzling alternatives.

First, if, constitutionally, electors can favor whomever they want, then after 220 years, 538 state and DC electors still can substitute their own will for that of almost 200 million American voters.

Second, if all the electors from each slate had to follow the will of the state, then the states (and DC) rather than a college of electors would elect a President, and the states would have different numbers of electoral votes, reflecting the state’s population size.

But the Constitution allows the states to elect a President only in the House of Representatives, only according to the “one state, one vote” principle—guaranteeing the equal suffrage of states in electing a President in Congress (and in amending the Constitution)—and only if the Electoral College fails to elect a President.

The "winner-take-all" rule of awarding electoral votes makes many states "safe" for either major party candidate. This rule contributes to narrowing election campaigns to a "battleground minority" of the states and to keeping almost 45 percent of the electorate not interested in voting in presidential elections. A popular vote loser can win the Presidency by winning in a minority of the states, and a third-party candidate can affect the outcome without winning a single electoral vote.

Under the existing election rules, voting even for state electors isn’t constitutionally guaranteed to Americans, remaining, in fact, a privilege at any time revocable by the state legislature, as the Supreme Court reaffirmed in 2000.

Yet, the Electoral College was no more than part of a compromise, keeping states of free settlers together as a nation. The sense and the circumstances of the compromise suggest that the Founding Fathers might have expected new generations of Americans to propose a better election system or at least a better compromise in electing a President.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Alexander Belenky Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Alexander S. Belenky is the author of the books "Extreme Outcomes of US Presidential Elections" (2003), "Winning the US Presidency: Rules of the Game and Playing by the Rules" (2004), and "How America Chooses Its Presidents" (2007). He is Guest (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Should voters care about the rules for electing a U.S. President?

Getting Rid of the Electoral College by Keeping It

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend