Home | Issues | Articles | Bulletins | Perspective | Audio | Guests | Images | Boards | Links | About | Contact

Con Con 2001?

Keep the Electoral College

NOTE: As more articles appear regarding the pros and cons of the electoral college, there is a critical factor that must be kept in mind. Article V allows for two methods of ratification of an Amendment or even a total rewrite of the Constitution. One is by 38 state legislatures. The other is by ratifying conventions in 38 states.

The U.S. Congress determines the method of ratification.

Ratifying Conventions would bypass State Legislatures, as happened with ratification of the 21st Amendment. Don't be fooled into believing there is any safe way to amend the Constitution.

The following statement from this article can be misleading by its subtlety. "...and in the states, three-fourths of which are needed to ratify an amendment." This statement, as you see, can be easily misconstrued. Don't be fooled.

                            — Jackie

November 12, 2000

Keep The Electoral College
The Orange County Register

As the presidential election drama plays on, the Electoral College has taken a significant beating, supposedly because it short-circuits democracy. New York Sen.-elect Hillary Clinton announced, "We are a very different country than we were 200 years ago. I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people and to me, that means it's time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president."

Before a challenge to the Electoral College goes too far, it's worth looking at what its replacement by a direct vote would mean. The Electoral College is set up in three places in the Constitution: Article II and the 12th and 20th amendments, Roger Pilon, director of the libertarian Cato Institute's Center for Constitutional Studies, told us.

Abolishing the college would mean a major overhaul of the Constitution, which, in turn, would mean a protracted national fight in Congress, where two-thirds of both houses are needed to pass a constitutional amendment, and in the states, three-fourths of which are needed to ratify an amendment. Abolishing the college also "would entail a substantial lessening of the role of the states and enhancement of the role of the federal government," Mr. Pilon said.

John Eastman, a professor of constitutional law at Chapman University, added that one reason the college was formed was because "the founders were concerned about Caesarism," in which a strongman uses supposed popular support to seize dictatorial powers. "The president controls the army and, in modern times, the administrative state. The Electoral College is an administative intermediary that keeps some of the power in the states."

Mr. Pilon said the founders divided governmental powers to make sure that everyone, even in small states or rural areas, had a say in government. "The Electoral college reflects the role of the states in our system of dual sovereignty" between the state and federal governments, he said. "The founders chose to divide government that way so that no one power would be dominant. If the college were abolished, presidential candidates would campaign almost exclusively in major population centers to capture efficiently the broadest number of votes."

Third parties probably would grow in power. Third parties are desirable because they give voters more choices, but the Electoral College currently moderates their role. Without the College, the U.S. electoral process probably would begin to look like that of European countries, where many small parties compete and gain recognition because they get a chunk of the vote every time.

The vote likely would become so splintered, with no one taking more than 50 percent, that run-offs between the top two candidates would become the order of the day. Finally, if the recount and "voter irregularities" of this election seem bad, at least they're apparently limited.

In a close national election based on popular vote, every vote out of 100 million would have to be questioned — and counted and recounted. Do we really want our nation's future depending on the integrity of the election process in, say, Chicago, notorious for its voting cemeteries? Currently, Chicago at most influences only Illinois' 22 electoral votes.

The Electoral College, whatever its defects, serves the purpose the founders intended of uniting disparate regions and limiting the power of the federal government. Whatever happens this month, it's worth keeping.

Home | Issues | Articles | Bulletins | Perspective | Audio | Guests | Images | Boards | Links | About | Contact