It has always had the potential for chaos—one that hasn’t been tapped…yet.
This is the second part in Pocket’s guide to the Electoral College. For articles about how the system works and its history, see Understanding the Electoral College.
Calls to reform or abolish the Electoral College are unlikely to go away. Polls taken around the 2020 election show that a majority of Americans favor replacing the Electoral College and replacing it with a nationwide popular vote. But because the system is enshrined in the Constitution, that’s easier said than done. The Electoral College also has its fair share of stalwart defenders.
But the question stands. Should the Electoral College be replaced? And, if so, what exactly should take its place? Read on for a curated guide to the debate, including the best arguments for and against the Electoral College, as well as an examination of possible alternatives.
In close elections, Republicans are favored to win even when they lose the popular vote.
Things are going to look much, much worse for the GOP’s chances with the Electoral College if red Texas, along with the battleground state of Florida, move to purple or blue in the coming years.
Defenders of the Electoral College argue that it was created to combat majority tyranny and support federalism, and that it continues to serve those purposes. This stance depends on a profound misunderstanding of the history of the institution.
All are practical reasons, not liberal or conservative reasons.
A winner-take-all system within states can produce results counter to the majority for no high-minded reason.
The reason both parties united in support: Former Alabama Gov. George Wallace.
The Electoral College was built in part to accommodate white, male slave owners who could not have anticipated a two-party system, that slaves would be freed or that black people and women would be able to vote.
The way we now elect presidents would horrify the authors of the U.S. electoral system. But the system can be fixed, and the power lies with the states.
The electoral college is hardly the optimal way to choose a national leader, and the case against it deserves serious debate. So does the complexity of devising a better alternative.