Keep Electoral College intact
During the recent presidential election the Electoral College was thrust to the fore.
Some, including one long serving senator (Barbara Boxer, D-California), called for its repeal. This view is ill informed and would destabilize the presidential election process.
To review, the founding fathers debated the structure of a representative government.
The founders anticipated the growth in population of the United States as it expanded west, but did not know the mix of urban and rural communities.
They understood that large cities existed (New York and Philadelphia) and others would develop.
Also, given all the available land (the U.S. border was the western Pennsylvania border), they anticipated more rural communities oriented toward farming would also develop.
They sought to provide representative government for all and recognized the natural political tension that might exist between urban and rural populations.
Unfortunately, a majority rule form of government could lead to the citizens of the cities dictating to citizens in the rural areas and vice versa. They settled on a bicameral legislature.
The House of Representatives would be a function of the number of citizens of each state. The Senate would have two representatives per state. In this way, both urban and rural states are represented and participate in decision making.
This bicameral system has served us well for 227 years — and counting.
The Electoral College was established about the same time — in 1787. It was patterned after the bicameral legislature.
The founders thought their bicameral concept that represented all citizens well could also be used to select the president.
Each state would cast its “electoral votes.”
The number of electoral votes each state receives is equal to their House representation (which is based on population) plus the number of senators (which is always two). The House currently has 435 members and the Senate has 100.
That puts the total vote at 535.
Congress allotted three votes to the District of Columbia, which is not a state but clearly deserves representation.
As a result, a majority represents 270 of the 538 electoral votes.
There is no requirement of how many electoral votes must come from urban versus rural states. There is no requirement that the winning candidate receives the most popular votes, either, although most of the time the popular vote and the Electoral College coincide.
The founders wanted a system that would represent all citizens regardless of the urban and rural mix of the population.
There have been five times that the candidate who won the Electoral College did not receive the most popular votes. The Union survived each one.
The Electoral College did its job and represented all of the citizens of all of the states.
Replacing it with majority rule would not only require a constitutional amendment, but also shake one of the foundations of our republic — the bicameral nature of our representation.
Gable resides in Altoona. He is an occasional contributor to the Mirror’s Opinion page.