The Electoral College is an integral part of the current election process of the United States. Created during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the establishment of Electors was developed through debate of the Virginia Plan which proposed that Congress should elect the president. However, concerns of the president being controlled by Congress and fears over a small group of individuals being able to dictate who would hold office, presented the need to change the plan.
The Committee of Eleven created the Electoral College in an attempt to proportionately divide state votes among delegates in the same numbers as their representatives in Congress. In understanding this, it becomes evident that the Electoral College and its processes were not created by accident. It has been argued that “while no longer serving the purposes intended by the Founding Fathers, the Electoral College has evolved to play new and useful roles” (Grofman & Feld, 2009, p. 2).
It is evident there are sources of stability that are derived from its existence. The Electoral College should not be replaced by direct election of the President because it protects the rights of the minority, discourages personal gain by candidates, and deters power imbalances between larger and smaller states. (History and Thesis) It is evident that during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, adoption of the Electoral College was “met with widespread approval by the delegates” (Neale, 2012).
This is due that its creation was able to meet several important criteria, such as the balance of state and federal interests, giving states the authority to participate in popular elections, and establishing the presidential authority outside the powers of Congress (Neale, 2012). These goals were all taken into consideration at the creation of the Electoral College. The concern that there is no inherent legitimacy to the organization is therefore unfounded. This demonstrates the complexity that is generally ignored when making arguments levied at the institution and its legitimacy.
The establishment of the Electoral College was done so with a great deal of scrutiny and care. (Creation of E. C. ) The establishment of a direct election can result in the election of candidates that the minority of voters desire. While this has been a major source of scrutiny directed at the Electoral College, it seems that direct elections are also prone to these issues. Furthermore, in the Electoral College, there is less likelihood of damage being caused to the will of the electors from 3rd party candidates.
In this sense, it is evident that in direct elections there are various ways that the elections can be levied for personal gain. Finally, it should be considered that the direct election creates power imbalances between larger and smaller states. This is due to the basis of popular voting. These issues are mitigated by the existence of the Electoral College. For this reason, it should not be replaced by direct election. (Minority and/or keep? ) There are many arguments made by those who prefer the idea of direct elections to the current process of the Electoral College. One argument is the ability to provide a democracy.
Proponents of replacing the Electoral College with the direct election argue that it “consistently distorts and often directly misrepresents the votes citizens have cast” (Edwards, 2005, p. 10). They argue that the Electoral College was originally established to provide a semblance of coherence to the voting process as only the Founding Fathers were more educated and thus more informed to make decisions. However, those who wish to establish direct elections argue people are educated more now than people from the past and would be more responsible in their political decisions.
This presents a major source of consideration in regards to the arguments from each side. (Democracy/smaller/larger states) Another challenge levied against the Electoral College is the so-called power it provides to smaller states. In this sense, proponents argued that the process “somehow preserves federalism or small states’ legitimate interests” ? (Edwards 2005, p. 11). One concern of the democratic process is developing methods for maintaining equal representation across all states despite their sizes.
Imbalances due to the weight given to states, the potential for the winner to lose the popular vote, and disproportionate advantages are all sited as major failures of the Electoral College in adhering to democratic principles. Proponents for direct elections cite these implications as a source of criticism for the current system. The national attention on those states that have the variability for political competition can cause an imbalance in the issues that are considered by the candidates (Grofman & Feld, 2009). These issues would be difficult to dictate in the case of a direct election.
In this sense, it is evident that there was a particular purpose for the establishment of the Electoral College that goes beyond simply ensuring that votes are divided in a responsible manner among the states. This involves ensuring the stability and the representation of each state. The implications of the Electoral College go well beyond simply ensuring that ill-informed people vote correctly. (Smaller/larger states) Furthermore, it is evident that there is not any risk associated with an unpopular president being elected through the delegation of votes by the Electoral College.
It seems that this occurrence “has been relatively rare, and will continue to be rare” (Grofman & Feld, 2009, p. 2). In such situations, the public outcry against these occurrences have been minimal. This is primarily due that such an election is not necessarily off by a margin that could be considered unjustifiable. The winner-take-all process that is currently in place cannot be said to be undemocratic even though it may result in a president who did not win the popular vote being elected. (Unpopular president/not undemocratic) (Need the four instances)
There have been various attempts to reform the current system under these notions. “Constitutional amendments for the direct election of the president have been introduced in Congress throughout American history” (Arrington, 1984, p. 238). A consideration to establishing direct elections is whether or not they can provide the level of democracy that is argued for by opponents of the Electoral College. A direct election can cause misrepresentation, especially in cases in which there are three popular candidates under consideration.
The Electoral College was designed to mitigate this type of issue. It can be expected that the direct election scheme, with its 40-percent runoff provision, will generate elections of this kind” (Arrington, 1984, p. 245). The direct election should not be implemented for this reason. The challenges associated with a direct election would far outweigh the benefits. The proponents have not established the costs and liabilities that should be considered. (Unpopular president) Another concern against the Electoral College is the ability for third party candidates to take advantage of direct elections in order to manipulate the votes for themselves.
This would result in a type of political bargaining that would erode the nature of the national elections. However, it is pointed out that this would be the result of regionalism in voters, which there is no evidence of. “Most social scientists talk about the growing nationalism of America and not about increasing regionalism” (Arrington, 1984, p. 247). The argument that these manipulations can take place is therefore predicated on a misinformed understanding of how these types of elections can have an effect on the priorities of the various individuals and interested parties who are taking part.
This demonstrates a point to the argument which seems to be based on notions of political entitlement that are not necessarily the case. In this sense, it is evident that there is a lack of consideration given to the current state of affairs and the developments that would occur if the direct election was implemented. (Third party candidates) Proponents argue that smaller states are given more power thru the Electoral College. The issue of power imbalances between states is a priority of the Electoral College.
It is evident that “the very same groups that are benefited by the Electoral College are disadvantaged in Congress” (Arrington 1984, p. 248). The benefits and disadvantages the smaller states is that they have same number of delegates as their representatives in Congress. This demonstrates an often-overlooked point that is given to the balance created by the Electoral College. (Smaller states) A challenge to proponents of the direct election is establishing legitimacy to the systems they would emplace. It is important to consider the development of a new system of national elections and the issues that would result.
Implementing the direct election would lead to “a host of defects that would make electoral misfires more likely and trigger a series of political and constitutional crises” (Williams, 2011, p. 173). This would be a source of instability moving forward as these changes would require changes to the current system and would need to have the agreements among several states in a subconstitutional or binding form or an amendment to the Constitution ratified by two thirds of the states. The new proposed system “risks creating a presidential election system that is neither workable nor fair” (Williams, 2011, p. 73).
While it is argued that the direct election would promote fairness and representation, it would likely be the case that these factors would be reduced in this scenario. It is therefore essential to develop a coherent framework for implementing such a strategy. (Implementing direct election) While the current system does not present the ideological idea of pure democracy, it is evident that “the benefits of the Electoral College system over time have far outweighed its shortcomings” (Boylan, 2008, p. 57).
Furthermore, the Electoral College was established with the desire to develop a strong and coherent Federal framework. The current Federal system, of which the Electoral College is an essential part, is considered by many experts to be “a continued source of the Constitution’s strength durability” (Boylan, 2008, p. 57). Removal of it would therefore, be a challenge to the stability and strength of the political process. (E. C. ’s strength) While there are many arguments against the Electoral College, it is evident that the system is necessary and works.
The conception of this system has been that it is unnecessary and prevents the true democratic process from taking place. However, there is a consistent need for the stability provided by the Electoral College. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the Electoral College works to provide a necessary level of representation that would otherwise not be achieved. For all these reasons, the Electoral College should not be replaced by a direct election.