Year 2000, Why An Electoral College?

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Emmanuel Daskalos


March 9, 2000

ENGL 1213, Sacra

Year 2000, Why An Electoral College?

It is the year 2000, election year. I am a twenty-year-old college student with an interest in this particular election, being that it is my first presidential to vote in. The current election of party nominees is one that is making history. John McCain, a senator from Arizona and George Bush Jr, governor of Texas are the two main sides of the republican ticket. Polls all over the U.S. show Senator McCain as the leader in an overall opinion of the choice of nominee for the Republican Party, but in the actual party primary, where only republicans vote, Gov. Bush is the leader, due to the views of members of the party itself. The overall opinion is for one candidate, but because of a governmental system, the other candidate gets the nomination. This introduction isn't the backing for this proposal, but this incident brought an issue to light for myself. An issue that has been debated almost since its adoption to the constitution.

The process of electing the United States Commander in Chief is one that is multifaceted and, in this day and age, antiquated. In drafting the presidential selection procedure set out in Article 2 of the Constitution, the Framers reached compromises in applying the concepts of democracy and federalism. Democracy being government based on direct voice of the people and Federalism is government where elected officials make the decisions regarding government. The electoral college was based on the premise of selection by a few. Its architects rejected the notion of popular sovereignty.

If the electoral college were to deadlock, however, the election would go to the House of Representatives. Where in, the individuals that were elected directly by the people would decide the outcome, as opposed to the electoral college, where state authorities and conventions chose the electors with no reference to popular majority preference. And state sovereignty would cast one vote, regardless of size. There in lies the primary problem with the electoral college (Glennon 9). The electors are not chosen by the people, as some believe. The electing of a president is an act that is considered one of the most important acts a US citizen can participate in. With the weight of this action, it is hard to believe that the electors of the state are chosen by means of political party conventions and central committees, a far cry from the "people's choice". Each party holds a convention where the official state members appoint the electors by a majority vote. A similar process is employed in the states where committees are held to decide the electors.
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The original intent of the electoral college was to be the "intellectual and educated" voice of the people, expressing their will. The drafting of the twelfth amendment, where in the process was enacted, took place at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. The system was the brainchild of Alexander Hamilton. Many delegates of the Constitutional Convention favored popular election of the president. Many others, however, had serious doubts about the capacity of the people to choose a chief executive wisely in a direct election (Glennon 7). William Blackstone, whose 1765 Commentaries strongly impressed the Framers, wrote that "history and ...

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