Whose Idea Was It Anyway?

Inkwell Institute

Professor’s Classroom

Subject:  American History/Political History

Paper #1

Note:  In writing this piece I was confronted with a couple other things that need to be analyzed…these are Representative Democracy and Bureaucracy…..please watch for these posts also…..

There has been many conversations on whether the electoral college is still a relevant concept or not….and whether it is still necessary or not……

The Electoral College was the Founders last ditch attempt to keep the reins of democracy out of the hands of the masses…..they did not want the people to get an overdose of democracy that would prove fatal, in the minds of the Founding Fathers….

The Framers of the Constitution were fearful of direct democracy and the “tyranny of the majority” it might produce. Consequently, they created a complex “filtering” process known as the Electoral College which was intended to insulate the selection of the President from the whims of the people. The Electoral College is comprised of “electors,” individuals who cast the electoral votes for their states. Originally, electors were free to cast their votes as they chose. Today, electors are “bound” or “committed” by state law to vote for the candidate who received the most popular votes in their state. With the exceptions of Maine and Nebraska, states give all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins a majority of votes in the state. (The procedure for electing the President is outlined in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.)

Each state has a number of electoral votes equal to the number of Senators and House Members it is eligible to send to the Congress. For example, the state of New York elects two Senators (as every other state does) and thirty-one Members of the House. New York, then, has thirty-three electoral votes. The total number of electoral votes in the Electoral College is 538–one for each of the one hundred Senators and 435 House Members plus the three allotted to the District of Columbia by the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution.

Electors are chosen by the political parties in each state. When voters cast their ballots in favor of a presidential candidate they are actually voting for the electors of the same party as that candidate. When a candidate wins the popular vote in a state, he or she wins that state’s electoral votes. Those votes are formally cast by the electors chosen to represent the winning candidate’s party in each state.

Under the original rules of the Electoral College, as established by the Constitution, electors cast separate votes for President and Vice-president. Whoever received a majority of electoral votes would be the President and the runner-up would become the Vice-President. However, a problem arose in the election of 1800 when Thomas Jefferson and his running mate Aaron Burr each received 73 electoral votes. When no candidate receives a clear majority of electoral votes, the Constitution specifies that the House of Representatives shall choose the President. It took the House thirty-six ballots to finally select Thomas Jefferson as the third President of the United States. To avoid a repeat of such problems, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution provided for presidential and vice-presidential candidates to run as a team, not individually.  (thanx to thisnation.org for some of the content)

This plan put to rest the notion of the great unwashed masses ever controlling the government….and that was a major concern of the elitists that founded this country…..how to keep the people at arms length when it comes to the reins of government….they found a good direction and it began with the electoral college….

In my opinion, the electoral college has out lived its usefulness….As it is today it favors the two party system to the exclusion of any third party, whether a popular party or not…the EC assumes that the people are too stupid to actually participate beyond a normal election…unfortunately I would agree with that assessment, but not because of stupidity but rather a lack of education…….

Researching this post lead me to other parts of the political system that I feel compelled to add thoughts on…….

Next in the series will be Representative Democracy……….


4 thoughts on “Whose Idea Was It Anyway?

  1. A good and informative post. Isn’t it true though that the voters are still electing the President etc., but sort of by proxy, if the EC is bound to follow the votes?

    The real problem, I think, is the two party system (as you point out), or to me in fact the WHOLE party system! If you can only choose between one asshole and another, affilliated to a group of other assholes or another, what choice is that!?

    Take the money out of it, though, by using a fixed amount of public money and giving equal facilities to ALL candidates and things begin to look a little different. That may mean you’d get a thousand candidates, so you have to limit that in some way – the English system – pay a personal deposit (fairly small, ut significant) and if you don’t get more than two percent (or something like that) of the total votes cast you lose that deposit” does at least discourage some of the more frivolous entries and seems to work moderately well.

    If you take that sort of approach, you do at least get choice. If you could then do something to seriously discourage the whole party system, you could begin to not only get real choice but, ultimately, democracy… Now THERE’S a novel idea, eh?

    1. If you will notice when the news talks election they always say that he/she has 270 or whatever that is the number of electoral votes…yes it is suppose to be the electoral college votes with the people…but that can be faked….I agree…we need to set a price limit on expenditures for President ….think about some spend millions to get a $100, 000 a year job…..kinda like you spending $200,00 to get a $30,000 a year jib…it is just plain stupid…..keep watching…I will post another on Rep Democracy next Monday….

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