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Debating the Electoral College

A roundup of the best arguments for and against America’s unique system for electing a president. Plus, a look at possible alternatives.

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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.

The Corrupt Bargain

Eric Foner
London Review of Books

Rooted in distrust of ordinary citizens and, like so many other features of American life, in the institution of slavery, the electoral college is a relic of a past the United States should have abandoned long ago.

Gaming the Electoral College

270 To Win

Don’t like the results? Change the rules! Use this interactive map to see how alternative electoral vote allocation methods would have affected the results had they been in place for the 2012 or 2016 presidential election.