History Of Electoral College Essay, Research Paper
HISTORY OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE
The Electoral College is the name for the electors who nominally choose the president and vice president of the United States. Each of the states receives a certain number of electors, which is determined by the total number of senators and representatives it sends to the U.S. Congress. Therefore, each state has at least 3 electors. The Electoral College was devised by the Framers of the Constitution as a procedure to elect the president by the people, at least indirectly. The framers came up with this procedure for many reasons. Such reasons included the lack of information to make a good choice by the people and it was also a way to control the power of the people. Although the Electoral College is still used today, it has undergone several changes and still contains certain weaknesses.
When the Constitutional Convention chose a method of selecting a president, they took several problems into consideration. The first problem they had to solve was the lack of information that the people had due to poor communication. At the time the U.S. contained approximately 4 million people who lived spread apart along the Atlantic coast with very little communication or transportation. This made it difficult for the people to choose a president from a list of people that they know little about. Another main reason they chose a system such as the Electoral College was as a way to control the power of the people. The members of the convention felt that the direct election of the president by the people would give them too much power.
Before choosing the Electoral College, the Constitutional Convention came up with several methods of selecting a president with those reasons under consideration. One idea the convention came up with was to have Congress choose the president. This idea was rejected because some felt that this procedure could lead to political bargaining, corruption, possible interference from foreign powers, and an upset in the balance of powers. Another idea was to have the State legislature choose the president. However, this idea was also rejected for similar reasons. A third idea that was taken under consideration was a procedure that involved the election of the president by a direct popular vote. This idea was rejected because the members of the convention felt that the people did not have enough information about candidates outside their state. Therefore, they would choose for the most popular person in their state and no candidate would ever receive a majority of votes enough to become president. After rejecting all ideas, the convention finally decided on a method of indirect election of the president through the Electoral College.
After choosing the Electoral College as the method of selecting the president, the Framers described it in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. In this new procedure, the process of choosing the electors was left to the states, in order eliminate the States suspicion of the federal government and members of Congress and employees of the government were not allowed to serve as Electors. In order to prevent bribery and secret dealings, Electors from each state were required to meet in their own states rather than all together in one large meeting. Also, the Framers tried to prevent the possibility of no majority by requiring that each Elector vote for two candidates, one of which had to be from outside their state. The person with the majority would become president, while the runner up would become vice president. If there was no majority the election would be turned over to the House and they would select the president.
The first design lasted four elections but was changed after the presidential election of 1800. In this election, political parties began to build up and two candidates, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr of the same party, received equal amounts of votes. Due to this tie, the election was turned over to the House of Representatives. The House finally chose a president, but not after they had met and voted 36 times. This led to the adoption of the 12th Amendment to the Constitution in 1804. This Amendment said that in order to eliminate ties, each Elector would cast one vote for president and a separate vote for vice president. In case of no majority, the House would select a president among the top 3 contenders. All other features of the Electoral College were not changed or improved. The next change in the college took place after the election of 1876, which involved Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden. In this election, the dispute was about the validity of the electoral votes of four states, which were crucial to the outcome. As a result of the dispute, it was the duty of Congress to settle it, but they too found themselves to be deadlocked. This led to the creation of the Electoral Commission of 1877, which chose Hayes on a party vote. Later, Congress passed a law that gave states exclusive powers to resolve all controversies involving the selection of electors. The last change that has been made to the Electoral College came by way of the 23rd Amendment. This Amendment gave residents of the District of Columbia the right to vote for three electors just as the residents of every other state.
I think that the Electoral College should be eliminated because the people should be allowed to vote for the president directly, since the United States is a democracy. I feel that it is wrong for a candidate to be able win an election through electoral votes, but lose the popular vote. Having the Electoral College takes away the rights that the people should have.