Michael Barone posted an article at The Washington Examiner today about the Electoral College. There has been a lot of discussion about the Electoral College lately because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 Presidential election, but Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote and the election. So how does this work and why do we need it?
First of all, the Founding Fathers put the Electoral College in place to protect the rights of the smaller states.
According to the government website archives.gov, this is how the Electoral College works:
The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators. Read more about the allocation of electoral votes.
Under the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution, the District of Columbia is allocated 3 electors and treated like a state for purposes of the Electoral College. For this reason, in the following discussion, the word “state” also refers to the District of Columbia.
Each candidate running for President in your state has his or her own group of electors. The electors are generally chosen by the candidate’s political party, but state laws vary on how the electors are selected and what their responsibilities are. Read more about the qualifications of the Electors and restrictions on who the Electors may vote for.
The presidential election is held every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. You help choose your state’s electors when you vote for President because when you vote for your candidate you are actually voting for your candidate’s electors.
The article at The Washington Examiner reports:
…All of which prompts renewed arguments about the Electoral College. The case for abolishing it is simple: Every American‘s vote should count the same. But it won’t happen. Two-thirds of each house of Congress and 38 of the 50 state legislatures will never go along.
The case against abolition is one suggested by the Framers’ fears that voters in one large but highly atypical state could impose their will on a contrary-minded nation. That largest state in 1787 was Virginia, home of four of the first five presidents. New York and California, by remaining closely in line with national opinion up through 1996, made the issue moot.
California’s 21st century veer to the left makes it a live issue again. In a popular vote system, the voters of this geographically distant and culturally distinct state, whose contempt for heartland Christians resembles imperial London’s disdain for the “lesser breeds” it governed, could impose something like colonial rule over the rest of the nation. Sounds exactly like what the Framers strove to prevent.
Can you imagine the Presidential campaign without the Electoral College?
This is a county-by-county map of the 2016 Presidential election:
How many of the states would have had a chance to meet the candidates if the Electoral College did not exist? Would Hillary have campaigned in the Midwest? Would Donald Trump have campaigned in Florida? Would a candidate ever come to Kansas, Oklahoma, or Nebraska? Would those states every be represented in a Presidential election? As you can see, the Electoral College protects the rights of the smaller states. Without it, we would be governed by New York, California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts–states that are having problems keeping their state budgets under control. Do we really want them to take charge of the country?