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Electoral College Compromise

The framers of the US 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 US senators (always two) plus the number of its US representatives (which may change each decade according to the size of each state’s population as determined in the 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 US 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. Just as compromise solved the initial problems of the framers so it is that compromise can solve this problem. The solution is to change the electoral votes to electoral points and reward each candidate a percentage of points based on the percentage of popular votes received in each state. This would eliminate the “winner take all” system thus allowing for all the votes to count. A voter is more apt to believe their vote counted when a percentage of popular votes are taken into account rather than the “all or nothing” system currently in existence. Further, this new system would integrate the desire for a popular vote for president with the need for the individual states to determine who actually gets elected.

Joe Bialek
Cleveland, Ohio


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