US Constitution

Electoral College 101

November 16, 2016 - 1:27 am
Buffalo, NY  (WBEN) - You're hearing about the Electoral College thanks to the split between the popular vote and the electoral college vote in the Trump/Clinton race.  UB Distinguished Professor of Political Science Jim Campbell says despite what you're hearing, there are a number of reasons why the Electoral College system is a good system.

"One is to ensure diversity of interests across the nation, so you don't have just Presidents elected by New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, so you get a broader representation of what Americans want."

Another reason is to help settle, within a reasonable amount of time, a potentially contentious or close election.   
"And there is this other, very practical consideration it of being able to arrive at a clear winner under a common set of rules" says Professor Campbell.

The founders put a good deal of work into developing the electoral college and before putting the final product in the Constitution.  Some feared that the direct election of the president by the people would lead to the creation of a monarchy or dictatorship.  Others thought that if congress elected the president, then congress would have too much power.  Others didn't trust the uneducated masses.

There have been only five times when a close popular vote and the Electoral College vote haven't gone the same direction.  Professor Campbell says we could see more of these splits if the electorate remains divided.

But will the system change?  Unlikely, says Professor Campbell, "people complain about it when it happens, but it's probably the best system we can arrive at."
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