There’s been a lot of talk recently about dropping the Electoral College and going with a popular vote. I wish there was some brilliant logic put forth by the Framers to explain the reasoning for the creation of the Electoral College. There isn’t any.
The original plan was to have Congress choose the President. Many of the delegates felt that the people and not Congress should choose the President, but very few were in favor of a popular vote. It was Alexander Hamilton that came up with having the President selected by electors chosen by each state based on the number of senators and representatives.
The hope was that these electors would be highly respected individuals who could balance out the choice of the electorate were they to choose poorly. This will not be a defense of the electors. As political as everything in this country has become, we’d probably be better off not having electors at all. But as for the Electoral College, there are many reasons that we should be glad that we have it.
Let’s start with the 2000 Florida recount. George Bush had 246 electoral vote and Al Gore had 266. Florida’s 25 electoral votes would have pushed either of them over the 270 vote threshold needed to be President. The margin of victory for Bush was a mere 537 votes. A recount could have easily changed the outcome of that state and the Presidency.
But in California, Al Gore beat George Bush by 1.29 million votes. There was no way that a recall in that state could have helped George Bush. Whether he lost California by a million or 10 million votes, made no difference. Al Gore would get California’s 55 electoral votes either way. But what if that election had been based on a popular vote?
Al Gore beat George Bush by 543,895 popular votes. That was a margin of just 0.51%. The 1.29 million vote difference in California, insurmountable under an Electoral College system, would have no bearing in whether or not to seek a recount under a popular vote system. Since Bush only needs just over a half a million votes to win, that ends up being just 10,878 votes per states. With a 1.29 million vote margin, it is actually more likely that Bush could find 11 thousand or more votes in California than other states. A popular vote system is just begging for there to be massive recount efforts in many if not all states.
If we look at the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a more respectable 1.8%. But that number pales in comparison to the 20% margin of victory in the number of states won by Trump, or the 14% margin of victory in Electoral votes. Since we are a nation of states, the overwhelming majority of states that Trump won, and the decisive number of electoral votes that those wins translated into makes the Electoral College a for better gauge barometer for measuring the nation’s choice for President, and despite the recount efforts in this election, the Electoral College is a protection against massive recount effort nationwide.
Charles Hagerman is married with two daughters. He spend a great deal of time listening to music, and watching tv and movies. Most conversations with him will feature many movie quotes, and him breaking out into song. Having taught himself to pay guitar using the internet, he plays guitar at his church. Additionally, Charles is a self taught programmer, studies economics and various languages using the internet. He is a tireless defender of liberty.