Why The Electoral College Was Created

Why The Electoral College Was Created


The election of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016 convinced many of his opponents that something was fundamentally wrong with any system that could have produced such an outcome. For years, Democrats and Never Trumpers have been seeking to pinpoint the exact location of what they consider a national dysfunction. At a structural level, nothing has come under more scrutiny of this kind than the Electoral College.

A refresher: the College is the device whereby American presidents are chosen. It’s not a direct vote—i.e., the candidate with 51% of all individual votes doesn’t automatically win. The technical term for such a procedure is a “plebiscite.” The framers of the American Constitution considered, but rejected, plebiscitary government.

Instead, the voters in each individual state vote for “electors”: these are individuals holding no other federal public office, each of whom casts one vote for president. Every state gets the same number of electors as congressmen—so two for the two senators

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