Founding Fathers original purpose for the Electoral College. The Electoral College and the dominance of the 2 major political parties are controversial aspects of the U.S. electoral system.
Respond to the following in a minimum of 175 words:
What was the Founding Fathers’ original purpose for the Electoral College?
How has the purpose or role of the Electoral College changed from its origination to today? Provide at least 1 specific example to support your position.
Should the United States consider changing the 2-party (i.e., Democratic and Republican) political system? Use the information you have learned in this course to support your answer.
Five times in history, presidential candidates have won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College. This has led some to question why Americans use this system to elect their presidents in the first place.
Among the many thorny questions debated by the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, one of the hardest to resolve was how to elect the president. The Founding Fathers debated for months, with some arguing that Congress should pick the president and others insistent on a democratic popular vote.
Their compromise is known as the Electoral College.
The system calls for the creation, every four years, of a temporary group of electors equal to the total number of representatives in Congress. Technically, it is these electors, and not the American people, who vote for the president. In modern elections, the first candidate to get 270 of the 538 total electoral votes wins the White House.
The Electoral College was never intended to be the “perfect” system for picking the president, says George Edwards III, emeritus political science professor at Texas A&M University.
“It wasn’t like the Founders said, ‘Hey, what a great idea! This is the preferred way to select the chief executive, period,’” says Edwards. “They were tired, impatient, frustrated. They cobbled together this plan because they couldn’t agree on anything else.”
At the time of the Philadelphia convention, no other country in the world directly elected its chief executive, so the delegates were wading into uncharted territory. Further complicating the task was a deep-rooted distrust of executive power. After all, the fledgling nation had just fought its way out from under a tyrannical king and overreaching colonial governors. They didn’t want another despot on their hands.
One group of delegates felt strongly that Congress shouldn’t have anything to do with picking the president. Too much opportunity for chummy corruption between the executive and legislative branches.
Another camp was dead set against letting the people elect the president by a straight popular vote. First, they thought 18th-century voters lacked the resources to be fully informed about the candidates, especially in rural outposts. Second, they feared a headstrong “democratic mob” steering the country astray. And third, a populist president appealing directly to the people could command dangerous amounts of power.
Out of those drawn-out debates came a compromise based on the idea of electoral intermediaries. These intermediaries wouldn’t be picked by Congress or elected by the people. Instead, the states would each appoint independent “electors” who would cast the actual ballots for the presidency.