Is there a better system than the Electoral College?

By Robert McGowan


What a wonderful country we have.

Just think, we soon will be voting for our President. Yes, “our President,” not some leader whom someone else picked for us. Take it or leave it.

We are going to cast our votes for people who will determine our leader by their votes.

We will vote for our electors who will cast our vote — so many electors per state — for our President. In that manner of choosing a President, each state is fairly represented, rather than electing by popular vote of the entire 50 states.

Some people like the electoral college system, some don’t. So, what else is new.

Our process for choosing our President is spelled out in Article II of the Constitution of the U.S., and in Amendment XIV, ratified on Jan. 15, 1804.

In other words, we don’t elect our President by popular vote. If we did, the populations of California, Texas and New York could conceivably choose our President.

No, we use the Electoral College.

Each of our 50 states appoints electors. These electors become members of the Electoral College, the number for each state being equal to the number of Senators and Representators to which the State is entitled in Congress. These electors vote for the President of the United States.

We have 538 Electors in the United States. In order to become President, a candidate must receive 270 votes.

It is not written into law, but it is assumed that the state’s electors will vote for the candidate who wins the majority of their state’s votes. All Tennessee electors would cast their vote for the presidential candidate who wins Tennessee. This pledge has seldom been broken, but in 1848 one of Tennessee’s 12 electors successfully defiled the custom.

Obviously, as one can readily observe from the possibilities inherent in the system, election by an Electoral College can be quite a complicated process. Still, even with the complications it seems fairer than elections by vote based on a simple popular vote, adding up the majority of the 52 state’s votes.

Yet, some think the Electoral College is not system for a democracy. Critics believe the system favors small states at the expense of the more populated states. Some objectors maintain that Gallup polls show that a majority of Americans have consistently favored a popular vote process for the past 50 years. Every proposal amendment has never been able to win approval  of Congress.

Allow me to quote from one of my previous columns:

“I wouldn’t want to elect our President by popular vote. But the usual operation of the Electoral College also seems unfair.”

For example, let us say that Tennessee has 10 electors. And let us say, for example, that two presidential candidates come to Tennessee. One gets 1,000 votes and the other 1,012. The one with 1,012 will get all of the 10 electors votes. That doesn’t seem fair. It would seem more fair to divide the 10 elector’s votes on a percentage basis.”

Democracy is a complicated process, isn’t it. But I can’t conceive of anyone wanting our United States of America represented by any other philosophy. Period!