A Lecture on the Electoral College by Professor Joshua Tucker

By Alexandru V. Lazar, NYU Florence student

Since the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the Electoral College has been on the minds on many Americans:  how it works and why it simply works. The United States of America is the only country in the world to nominate such a “special group” to vote in its elections as Professor Joshua Tucker of New York University put it. Professor, author, and blogger, Tucker stated that,” One of the most powerful nations, if not the most powerful nation, in the world, elects their president through a group of five hundred thirty-seven individuals who represent the entire United States of America!” Why? Well, there is no specific reason why the Electoral College was created but here are a few possible reasons as to why it may have been created and how it works.

The Constitutional Convention in 1787 considered three methods of selecting a president: allow Congress to select, allow the governors of each individual state to select, or allow a direct popular vote to select the president. Each one of these methods were rejected and, as a result, a so called “Committee of Eleven” proposed an indirect election through a College of Electors. Each state has a certain number of electors dependent on the number of Senators and Representatives in Congress. Larger states with larger populations obviously have more electors and small states have fewer electors. On the Monday following the second Wednesday in December, the electors of the college meet in their separate state capitals to select the president. The funny side of this is that the electors are unable to communicate between states, yet they are still expected to rightfully choose the most capable candidate to become President of the United States.

The compromise of the Electoral College has developed a few pit falls since 1787 that have affected the election process; consequences include: “faithless electors,” a tie (in which the House chooses the president by state delegation and the Senate chooses the vice president…Romney-Biden 2012…seriously?), and spending extremely large amounts of money on advertising in “swing states.”

To some it may seem that the Electoral College makes each state unequal, as well as each citizen. There have been many alternatives proposals and potential reforms including: the proportional plan, the district plan, and selection by statutory and not constitutional authority. Yet the most popular and effective plan is put forward by the National Popular Vote Initiative, which guarantees the presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes. Basically, the electoral votes must all go towards the candidate who wins the popular vote meaning each person’s vote counts! Finally! Democracy! The bill will only be in effect when a majority of states of the Electoral College (270 of 538). So now go… and vote for your presidential candidate. The ballots are open, and the autumn air is crisp; but remember the electoral college DOES have the final say!

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