Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Electoral College

People have been talking a lot about the electoral college recently, since Hillary Clinton lost the Presidential election, despite getting about two and a half million more votes than Trump did. I've complained about the electoral college in the past, myself. I appreciate how it at least tries to make every state relevant in the Presidential election process, but in reality, only a handful of states make a difference in elections.

My history buff friend was inspired to look more into what the Founding Fathers were thinking, when they made the electoral college. As it turns out, they were thinking that every election would have three or more candidates. The electoral college makes a lot more sense, if there are three viable candidates. It's hard to get a majority vote, when there are more than two candidates. Heck, the Clinton/Trump election only had two viable candidates, and even then, nobody got 50% of the vote.

My friend also says that the Founding Fathers expected the electoral college to tie more often than not, which is why they went into such detail about what to do, when nobody wins the electoral college.

Also, the electoral college was partially a practical decision. It wasn't feasible for them to have national elections, even one that only covers thirteen states on the East Coast. It was way easier to let every individual state handle its own election, then report that result to the people in DC.

Today, the numbers we use for the electoral college are based on state populations, as determined by the Census Bureau. However, those numbers aren't accurate for voting purposes, because the majority of people don't vote. Some Founding Fathers wanted to base the electoral college numbers on the number of voters, while others didn't. This was part of a big argument, which eventually led to the 3/5 compromise.

I wonder how the electoral college would look like today, if it was based on the number of actual voters, not just potential voters! I bet the map would look pretty different, whether we left out the potential voters entirely, or if we counted them as 3/5 of a person each. California and Texas would probably get fewer electoral votes, while Ohio and Florida would get more. (And in the following election, every state would vote in record numbers to try to assert electoral college dominance.)

1 comment:

lence said...

A youtuber CGP Grey covered electoral colleges in one of his videos and how it fails at what it's trying to achieve. I found it interesting.