Electoral College Essay
The electoral college system is one which is criticized often. In most of the countries in the
world their leader is chosen by popular vote. This was true even in communist countries,
although many times only one candidate runs sometime. This system of popular vote is not used
in the United States, the country that is supposed to be the most democratic.
The Electoral College, the constitutional system for the election of the president and vice
president of the United States. It is the collective name for a group of electors, nominated by
political parties within the states and popularly elected, who meet to vote for those two offices.
Each party within a state selects a slate of electors numerically equal to the state’s
congressional delegation. The electors normally pledge to vote for the nominees of their party,
but they are not constitutionally required to do so. When the American people vote for president
and vice president, they are actually voting for slates of electors pledged to their candidates.
Because the electors usually are chosen at large, the electoral vote of each state is cast as a unit,
and the victorious presidential and vice presidential nominees in each state win the state’s entire
electoral vote. The candidates receiving a majority of the total electoral vote in the United States
The electoral college system was established in ArticleII, section I, of the U. S.
Constitution and has been modified mainly by the 12th Amendment. Numerous plans have been
proposed for eliminating or altering the electoral college, including direct election of the
president and vice president by popular vote. It extremely ironic that the what is supposed to be
the most democratic government in the world, does not choose a president according to what the
The electoral college system generally gives all of a state’s electoral votes to the winner
in that state, no matter how slim the margin. Thus it has happened that candidates have been
elected even though they received fewer popular votes than their opponents. Both Rutherford B.
Hayes in 1876, and Benjamin Harrison, in 1888, were elected in this manner. In the case of
Hayes, a special electoral commission was called in 1877 to decide the contested returns. John
Quincy Adams also received fewer popular votes than his opponent, Andrew Jackson, in the
election of 1824, but his election was decided by the House of Representatives because Jackson
failed to win a majority of electoral college votes. On several occasions the popular vote
pluralities of the electoral college victors have been razor thin or even questionable. One
instance was the election of John F. Kennedy over Richard M. Nixon in 1960.
The feature of the electoral college most prone to attack is the requirement that the
election go into the House of Representatives to determine the president and into the senate to
determine the vice-president if the electoral college fails to reach a majority. There might be a
paralyzing delay in determining the victors, and the president-elect and vice president-elect
could be members of opposing political parties. The House was called upon to elect a president
in the cases of Jefferson and John Quincy Adams, and the Senate chose Richard M. Johnson as
vice president after the election of 1836. The possibility of this happening again remains very
much alive. Should a third-party candidate carry enough states to prevent an electoral vote
majority for any candidate, the House, voting by state delegation, might be prevented from
Pledged electors generally have been regarded as legally free to cast their votes as they
choose, and there have been cases of defection from pledged positions. No such deviation has
had a clear effect on an election result, but the possibility raises an additional objection to the
electoral college. In 1820 a New Hampshire elector voted for John Quincy Adams instead of
James Monroe; in 1956 an Alabama elector voted for a circuit judge instead of Adlai E.
Stevenson; in 1960 an Oklahoma elector pledged to Richard Nixon voted instead for Harry F.
Byrd; in 1968 a North Carolina elector defected from Nixon to George C. Wallace; and in 1988
a West Virginia elector voted for Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. instead of Michael S. Dukakis.
Because of this I will shown that the following, although improbable example is possble
to happen. If every single voter in the country unanimously chose “candidate A” for president,
the electors pledged to him still may rally against him and vote for the other candidate. Thus,
having 250 million votes of the people of the United State, could still lose the election based on
the whimsical attitudes of electors. Although this example is not prone to actually occur, it
showns the undemocratic way that we choose the most important public official in our country.
With some changes this system can be modified in to an acceptable one, but why isn’t a
popular vote used. It is sensible, democratic and straight-forward. It is uncontroversial and
allows the people of the United States to choose the person they want to lead them as president.
World Book Encyclopedia 1999