Refining the Electoral College

By Bialek, Joe | The Humanist, November-December 2007 | Go to article overview
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Refining the Electoral College


Bialek, Joe, The Humanist


A GOP initiative in California aimed for the June 2008 ballot would end the winner-take-all system in presidential elections and apportion the states large number of electoral votes by congressional district.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution created the Electoral College as a result of a compromise for the presidential election process. During the debate, some delegates felt that a direct popular election would lead to the election of each state's favorite son and none would emerge with sufficient popular majority to govern the country. Other delegates felt that giving Congress the power to select the president would deny the people their right to choose. After all, the people voted for their representatives to the federal legislature. The compromise was to set up an Electoral College system that allowed voters to vote for electors, who would then cast their votes for candidates, a system described in Article II, section 1 of the Constitution.

Each state is allocated a number of Electors equal to the number of its senators (always two) plus the number of its representatives (which may change each decade according to the size of each state's population as determined in the national census).

Whichever party slate wins the most popular votes in the state becomes that state's Electors so that, in effect, whichever presidential ticket gets the most popular votes in a state wins all the Electors of that state.

The debate has started again as to whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended in order to change the presidential election process. Some promote eliminating the Electoral College in favor of a direct popular vote for president while others believe the Electoral College should remain unchanged.

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