The founders did not create the U.S. electoral college to give small states an advantage. James Madison’s extensive notes on the Constitutional Convention clearly records what occurred. Many issues were contentious, but the presidential selection process was the most combative.
Besides the electoral college, proposals included direct popular vote, selection by the full or partial Congress, and a vote by states’ governors — giving small states their biggest advantage. The electoral college emerged when Southern delegates realized that it, in conjunction with the three-fifths clause, gave them tremendous power, which they used effectively for the next 70 years.
The electoral college was a failure from the start. Politicians schemed with electors to sway elections. Because the founders didn’t expect political parties to emerge, the 1800 election proved its incompetency, which prompted the quick passage of the 12th Amendment. To their dismay, the founders also didn’t realize states would adopt the current winner-take-all approach to electors, which provided large states with a substantial advantage. The sum of the smallest 14 states votes are only 75% of California’s votes. Small states have little impact in presidential elections. Additionally, it disenfranchises a significant number of voters in each state. It is not democratic.
Have something on your mind? Send to [email protected] or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.