The Electoral College

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    I don’t remember hearing much about the electoral college in the lectures on the Philadelphia Convention or the Ratification Campaign but it may be covered in future lectures. If so, I apologize in advance.

    Recently I had a discussion with a friend. He argued that the Electoral College is no longer appropriate and that it leads to people’s votes not counting – He lives in CT and votes republican so I can understand his argument. I countered that the Electoral College would have originally been designed to preserve the power of the states instead of giving the impression that the Federal Government should have any non-delegated power (in other words, state sovereignty was better maintained by having the people vote for state level electors rather than voting directly for a Federal office). What other arguments are there to support the Electoral College in the modern age? I guess part of the problem is that the executive has assumed so much power over everyone that people feel like they should have a DIRECT vote for that office. And for someone who wants to vote for a “conservative” who lives in a blue state, then yes it would seem like their vote doesn’t actually count.

    This question isn’t for anyone in particular, I’d be happy to hear everyone’s ideas!


    Something else to consider is that at the beginning each representative (a number included in selecting the number of electoral votes) used to represent something like 35,000 people. Now they represent on average of 700,000 with some districts containing almost twice as many as other districts.

    The higher the number of seats in the house/higher number of electoral college votes there are, the more an individual vote will weigh in selection of that representative/elector. Of course, then each representative/elector than weighs less in their own respective votes. But conceivably, an electoral college of 6,000 would yield results practically identical to the popular vote…. Personally I think the country is just too big for meaningful representation.


    As I understand it, the founding fathers did not consider a direct democracy a good form of government for several reasons. It failed in Greece and leads to an oligarchy.
    Also they were concerned that an uninformed public could not be trusted maintain the liberties that were gained by so much blood and treasure. Public opinion is too easily molded by academics, experts, and media. Delegates selected by the states to represent their interests should be more informed and politicly aware because it is in that state’s or parties best interest to do so. I believe the electoral college still has a place in todays politics as long the government is not interested in having an informed public.


    There actually was talk of direct election of the Executive in the Philadelphia Convention. Ultimately, however, small-state delegates (including Connecticut’s) won the current apportionment of the Electoral College. That’s why my vote for president weighs much more than the vote of someone from California: while Connecticut gets 7 electors (for its 5 reps + 2 senators), California only gets 55 electors (53 + 2), so that what for Connecticut is a 40% bonus for its senators is for California less than a 4% bonus for its senators.

    How to justify it? Try this:

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