The Electoral College versus the popular vote.


Democrats are yet again pointing to the fact that Hillary won the “popular vote.”

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When someone points out to them that no one wants California or New York being the state that determines the election (NB, the vote differential in either state more than makes up the difference in the “popular” vote) they intone in unison, “Don’t those citizens votes count?” They fail to note that the 84 electoral votes from those states went to their candidate when 5,607,210 votes for Trump by Californians and New Yorkers failed to garner a single electoral vote for their candidate – every electoral vote went for Hillary. The popular vote differed by a mere 202,340.

Our Constitution settles presidential elections through the Electoral College and not the popular vote.

The Constitution states:

Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state may be entitled in the Congress.

The total number of electors and thus electoral votes across all states and the District of Columbia—included after the passage of the 23rd Amendment—adds up to 538. The winner must receive a majority, or 270, of these votes to become president.

Most voters remember the 2000 election where the winner of the national popular vote (Al Gore) failed to determine the winner of the election (George Bush). This happened, as well, in three earlier elections: 1824, 1876, and 1888. (Footnote)

[Source: The Electoral College (Why we use it and why it matters), by Jarrett Stepman]

The Electoral College remains in place over two centuries after the framers of the Constitution empowered it to select presidents. Though occasionally maligned, this system of electing a chief executive has been incredibly successful for the American people.

Many modern voters might be surprised to learn that when they step into a ballot box to select their candidate for president, they actually are casting a vote for fellow Americans called electors. These electors, appointed by the states, are pledged to support the presidential candidate the voters have supported. The Electoral College holds its vote the Monday after the second Wednesday in December following the election.

The Founding Fathers created the Electoral College after much debate and compromise, but it has provided stability to the process of picking presidents…

The Founders’ College:

As one of The Heritage Foundations legal experts, Hans von Spakovsky, noted in a paper on the Electoral College: “In creating the basic architecture of the American government, the Founders struggled to satisfy each state’s demand for greater representation while attempting to balance popular sovereignty against the risk posed to the minority from majoritarian rule.”

Some elements of the Electoral College, such as the indirect vote through intermediaries, were hotly debated at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. It was eventually justified in part as a stopgap to potentially reverse the vote if the people elected a criminal, traitor, or similar kind of heinous person. (Maybe they were prescient about the Hillary Clinton candidacy!!) The Founders wanted to empower democratic elements in the American system, but they feared a kind of pure, unrestrained democracy that had brought down great republics of the past.

The product of the Founders’ compromise has been well balanced and enduring, and we would be wise to leave it intact…

As students of ancient history, the Founders feared the destructive passions of direct democracy, and as recent subjects of an overreaching monarch, they equally feared the rule of an elite unresponsive to the will of the people. The Electoral College was a compromise, neither fully democratic nor aristocratic…

The system empowers states, especially smaller ones, because it incentivizes presidential candidates to appeal to places that may be far away from population centers. Farmers in Iowa may have very different concerns than bankers in New York. A more federalist system of electing presidents takes that into account.

Roy Filly

Footnote:

Benjamin Harrison v Grover Cleveland – Cleveland won the popular vote

Rutherford B. Hayes v Samuel J. Tilden – Tilden won the popular vote

Andrew Jackson v John Quincy Adams – the only election where the winner was determined in the House of Representatives (12th Amendment). Jackson won the popular vote, but did not obtain a majority. William H. Crawford and Henry Clay also ran as candidates and garnered sufficient votes to require the House to settle the election.

 

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About Roy Filly

Please read my first blog in which I describe myself and my goals.
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3 Responses to The Electoral College versus the popular vote.

  1. Flayer says:

    And Quincy lasted only one term.

  2. Starchild says:

    I tend to agree with leaving the Electoral College in place. This is just the sort of situation when it is arguably needed (“It was eventually justified in part as a stopgap to potentially reverse the vote if the people elected a criminal, traitor, or similar kind of heinous person”). If enough of the electors pledged to Trump vote their consciences and deny him 270 electoral votes so that the decision of who among the top three electoral vote-getters to send to the White House goes to the House of Representatives, it would be the first time such a wholesale revolt by Electoral College members has happened in U.S. history and dramatic evidence that the system envisaged by the Constitutional founders works as intended.

  3. Pingback: Food for thought. | The Rugged Individualist

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