The explanation why the United States still uses the Electoral College
The Electoral College is included in the Constitution, and the process to change or eliminate it would be a challenging process
(WKBT) – For more than two centuries, the United States has used the Electoral College to decide our president.
It is now made up of 538 total electors, and the group of electors from each state elect the president the American people voted for during the general election.
The presidential candidate needs at least 270 electoral votes to win.
But for many years, the Electoral College has been a system full of controversy.
“In two of the last five elections, the ultimate winner of the electoral vote did not win the popular vote,” UW-La Crosse assistant professor of political science Anthony Chergosky said.
Chergosky says our Founding Fathers discussed America having a direct popular vote system at the Consitutional Convention, but that fell through.
“The people who wrote the Constitution just felt that the everyday American public did not have the necessary knowledge, education or information to make a reasonable decision about who to vote for for president,” Chergosky said.
The South wanted to protect slavery, but slaves did not count as a part of the population and couldn’t vote. So the convention passed the Three-Fifths Compromise.
“So through counting the slave population at least somewhat into the overall population count in the South, that increased their congressional representation,” Chergosky said. “And in turn, that increased the number of electoral votes that Southern states would get.”
Eventually, our Founding Fathers settled on the Electoral College.
“It was an 11th hour decision at the Constitutional Convention in 1787,” Chergosky said.
To this day, the overall scope of the Electoral College has not changed that much. The number of electors from each state in the Electoral College is largely based off of population. The total number of House of Representatives and Senate members make up a state’s total amount of electoral votes. Each state has two Senators.
“Electors are supposed to simply rubberstamp the outcome of the popular vote in their particular state,” Chergosky said.
Republicans generally support the Electoral College.
“You can’t just dominate one region and become president,” Chergosky said.
But Democrats are pushing for a national popular vote system.
“Does it undermine democracy when the national popular vote winner doesn’t become president?,” Chergosky said. “I mean that’s really the question what this comes down to.”*
Chergosky says in order to get rid of the Electoral College, both Chambers of Congress would need to have a 2/3 majority vote, as well as support from 38 states.
“So, good luck,” Chergosky said. “I mean, whew.”
So even though the Electoral College has been so controversial for so long, it’s almost impossible to eliminate it.
“It’s enormously difficult to change the Constitution,” Chergosky said.
Chergosky says we would likely move to a popular vote system if the Electoral College was tossed out.
The U.S. is the only country in the world that elects a president using the Electoral College system.
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