Is the Electoral College Worth Keeping?

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By Jake MacAulay:

Jake MacAulay
Jake MacAulay

“It unites in an eminent degree all the advantages,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist No. 68, “the union of which was to be wished for.”

As discussions begin again on the next presidential election, the Electoral College debate has been rekindled. I find it necessary to get ahead of the curve and discuss the facts about the Electoral College and why our Founders created it.

In their infinite wisdom, the United States’ Founders created the Electoral College to ensure the STATES were fairly represented. Why should one or two densely populated areas speak for the whole of the nation?

Consider the following statistics:

  • There are roughly 3,100 counties in the United States.
  • Trump won approximately 2,600 of them.
  • Clinton won just under 500.
  • Trump’s county win covered about 84% of the geographic United States.
  • Clinton won 88 of the 100 largest counties.
  • Without these counties, she would have lost by 11.5 million votes. Even so, Clinton only garnered about 2.8 million popular votes than Trump.

In other words, Clinton’s votes were very concentrated in only a few states whereas Trump’s votes came from a wide enough geographic area to win the Electoral College. Trump had 304 Electoral votes; Clinton had 227.

Here is a very quick civics lesson:

Article 4, Section 4, of the United States Constitution states, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Nowhere in the Constitution does the word “DEMOCRACY” appear. It also appears nowhere in the Declaration of Independence.

In a Republic, the law is supreme, and all men, including its leaders, are subject to it.  The Law is objective, a fixed standard; it is what we call the “Rule of Law.” In a Republic, the minority has rights, which even the majority may not violate. In a Democracy, however, majority rule is absolute. This makes the law subjective and ever changing. It is what we would call the “Rule of Man.”

To select our president by a popular vote would be a purely democratic election. This election would favor only states with major population hubs, making the rest of the country irrelevant. The tyranny of the majority populace would dominate America, and minority population would never be assured protection from the majority.

The Electoral College was to be a wholly separate body for choosing the president. Developed at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, it was a compromise among plans for a national popular vote and to have Congress choose the president. It also acts as a State check on Federal power, thus protecting smaller States.

Liberty and justice for all Americans is the goal of the Constitution, making the Electoral College both right and American.

And in the words of Alexander Hamilton, “If the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent.”

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© Copyright by Jake MacAulay, 2019. All rights reserved.

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Jake MacAulay
About Jake MacAulay 96 Articles
Jake MacAulay serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Institute on the Constitution (IOTC). He leads strategic plan implementation, provides programmatic leadership and speaks to groups across the country. Jake established the American Club, a youth outreach program designed to support students to study The American View of Law & Government in schools and colleges. Jake was the former co-host of the syndicated talk show, The Sons of Liberty, he is an ordained minister and has spoken to audiences nation-wide, including college and high school campuses. Jake has been seen on Yahoo News, Fox News, The Blaze, AP, CBS, NBC, The Weekly Standard, and more…

1 Comment

  1. Alexander Hamilton, the other Founding Fathers, and the rest of the Founding Generation were dead for decades before state-by-state winner-take-all laws become the predominant method for awarding electoral votes.

    The current presidential election system does not function, at all, the way that the Founders thought that it would.

    Supporters of National Popular Vote find it hard to believe the Founding Fathers would endorse the current electoral system where 38+ states and voters now are completely politically irrelevant.
    10 of the original 13 states are politically irrelevant now.

    Policies important to the citizens of the 38 non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    “Battleground” states receive 7% more presidentially controlled grants than “spectator” states, twice as many presidential disaster declarations, more Superfund enforcement exemptions, and more No Child Left Behind law exemptions.

    The Founders created the Electoral College, but 48 states eventually enacted state winner-take-all laws.

    Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in Article II, Section 1
    “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”
    The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

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