Is Al Gore Correct in Arguing for the Elimination of the Electoral College?


Al Gore was recently interviewed and stated that he thought it was time to do way with the Electoral College.  I have never agreed with Al Gore on any issues and again, find myself on the opposite side of his argument.  The Electoral College is a necessary part of the federal election process and must remain in place.  But before explaining the reasons, let’s discuss some history.  The Electoral College is written in Article II Section I of the Constitution – The Executive Power.  It says, “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: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector“.  The electors from every state are equal to the number of Senators, of which every state has two and Representatives, which is based on population.  The first question to be answered is why did the framers choose this process for electing the President as opposed to a simple popular vote?  There are a number of explanations, some more complicated than others.  I will discuss the simplest and most poignant reasons.  First, the electoral college allows states with smaller populations to play a larger role in the process.  If elections, even today, were population based, states like New York, California and Texas would have even greater influence in presidential elections than they currently have.  States like Vermont and Wyoming would hold very little influence with populations amounting to less than 1% of the total US population.  Second, and an explanation you won’t easily find anywhere else because it’s true, the framers didn’t trust the average male citizen to necessarily make the correct decision in choosing the President.  James Madison, addressed this in Federalist Papers #10 and #51 regarding dangerous factions.  Understanding the electoral process, electors must simply vote for one of the eligible Presidential candidates.  So in theory, if the popular vote elected a Communist or Despot, the electors could vote for whoever the other candidate was, regardless of the popular vote.  More simply, in a federal system of checks and balances, the electors are simply one more check in the process.   But the most important argument in favor of the Electoral College is in 236 years of history, with a couple of exceptions, the process has worked exactly as it was designed.  Since the framers were FAR more brilliant than any political scientists/theorists we have today, including Al Gore, my money is on their knowledge and reasoning for writing the Constitution as they did.

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