The Electoral College went into effect in 1789 for a few reasons. One was to create a buffer between the population and the election of the president of the United States. Another was to give smaller states more power to elect the president. The Founding Fathers were hesitant to give American citizens direct power to elect the president; they were afraid a tyrant could manipulate the public and rise to power, according to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 68.
If we want to get real though, the Electoral College goes back to the Three-Fifths Compromise. The Three-Fifths Compromise was reached during the Constitutional Convention in 1787. It decided that slaves would be counted when determining a state’s total population for both representation and tax purposes. It said that slaves would be counted as “three-fifths” of a white person.
The Electoral College had a lot to do with giving power to states whose economy was driven by the institution of slavery and to take power away from the American populace. Its origins are already extremely problematic (and racist), but we’ve seen the Electoral College have equally disastrous effects in recent years. In 2000, the results of the election between George W. Bush and Al Gore became unclear because the electoral college votes of Florida were still undecided: the vote totals kept changing. Ultimately, Bush won the election after a month-long series of legal battles and a literal Supreme Court decision. The 2016 election needs no introduction—Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes, but because of the Electoral College, Donald Trump is obviously president.
All of these things have driven a societal conversation recently around whether or not the Electoral College should even still be a thing. We at The Setonian are here to tell you it shouldn’t be. Several 2020 presidential candidates have argued for its abolishment including Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg. It’s time to abolish the Electoral College. It quite literally completely undermines the purpose of a general election, it has racist origins, and well, it resulted in the election of Donald Trump. It’s time to go.
The Voice is intended to best represent the collective opinion of The Editorial Board. It is written by The Setonian’s Editor-in-Chief.