John McGinnis, a professor of constitutional law at Northwestern University, defends the current Electoral College, arguing that while the mathematics of electoral proportionate calculations is correct, the conclusion that it over-represents small states is not. Larger states still have more sway because they have more electoral votes, he said.
Further, the historical agreement to give each state two senators regardless of their population and to base electoral votes on congressional delegation rather than population "was an essential compromise" when framers were drafting the Constitution, McGinnis said. Without that compromise, there might not have been a Constitution or nation, he said.
But Finkelman said his reading of history is that the compromise wasn't about power between small and large states as much as it was about power of slave-holding states. He said James Madison wanted direct popular election of the president, but because African-American slaves wouldn't count, that would give more power to the North. So the framers came up with a compromise to count each slave as 3/5ths of a person for representation in Congress and presidential elections, he said.
Electoral College supporter McGinnis said the emphasis on battleground states is actually good because they are representative of the country. But he acknowledges as an Illinois resident, "I realize when I vote here it's completely irrelevant."
George Mason University Elections Project with eligible voters figures: http://elections.gmu.edu/index.html
U.S. Electoral College: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/
National Popular Vote campaign: http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/index.php
Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears
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