The Electoral College–why we have it

In my social media feeds this morning, I’ve seen a lot about how we should replace the Electoral College system for electing Presidents with “the popular vote.” It’s point #5 in Michael Moore’s “Morning After” prescription for Democrats.

It’s perhaps worth pointing out that the electoral college system was an essential part of the plan that got the original 13 states to surrender some of their sovereignty to the federal government and ratify the Constitution of the United States. There is NO WAY the small states would have agreed to a popular vote system in 1787 -1789 and there is NO WAY they would agree to it today–its practical effect would be to disenfranchise them in presidential elections.

No electoral college system–no Constitution–no United States of America, simple as that.

Look at our name: we are not “America.”

We are “The United States of America.” The electoral college system (or something like it) was (and is) the only compromise acceptable to both small and large states. Getting rid of a system expressly designed to preserve the voice of small states in Presidential elections is such a non-starter that it isn’t worth wasting energy over.

(For what it’s worth, Abraham Lincoln, often considered our best President, received 39.9% of the popular vote in 1860. You can look it up. They were almost perfectly distributed to translate into electoral college votes.)



  1. Gregory argues that the EC is necessary today because the “small” states wanted it in 1778. The concerns of this nation at that time were not quite what they are today, and anyway, the presidency is a national post (the oft-mentioned being “president of all the people” and that sort of thing), so state lines should count for nothing in the presidential election, just as county lines count for nothing in statewide contests. We should toss out the EC and let the voters pick the president based on how many votes he gets.

    1. We are “The United States of America.” Good luck getting the small states to support the constitutional amendment your idea requires.

  2. My guess is that the founding fathers would not believe that the small states could be manipulated into electing a neo-fascist millionaire. Comparing the election of Trump to Lincoln is outrageous. Lincoln came from the heartland embodying the best of American ideals of equality and equal opportunity. Trump is the product of America’s perverse fascination with wealth and greed fueled by dark money in politics, Fox News, the NRA and fossil fuel lobbyists. Times change,US society has changed. It is time for the electoral college to go into the dustbin of history.

    1. My post about the EC should in no way be construed as made in support of Trump. I stand against every one of the policies and emotions he has campaigned upon, and in no way do I compare him to Lincoln. I merely point out that it is possible to win the electoral college with a relatively small share of the popular vote. Lincoln cruised to victory on his 39.9%. The EC wasn’t close in 1860. All three of his opponents’ EVs put together wouldn’t have dislodged his win. I merely point out that the system was designed as it was to give slightly more weight to votes from small states and slightly less weight to votes in big states. The small states would not have ratified the Constitution without it. We would not have a country without it. It’s part of the original compromise.

  3. Well stated! Few today understand the Electoral College as the “solution” for our founder’s concerns.

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