Moreover, the elector system has other grievous flaws. Because each state's electoral vote total is based on the number of its congressmen plus senators, less-populated states have a modest but chronically exaggerated influence. That bias creates the risk that the candidate winning the most popular votes will lose the electoral contest; that happened in 1876, 1888, and 2000. Predictably, it will happen again.
Plus we now have "battleground" states and "safe states." Because most states predictably will vote either Democratic or Republican, presidential campaigns ignore them, a deeply alienating experience for the majority of citizens whose votes are taken for granted.
Since 1787, the world has changed in ways that undermine the rationale behind the elector system. News no longer takes weeks to travel from one end of the country to the other. Literacy is nearly universal, information about public events largely unavoidable, and geographic mobility easy. We have the technology for all Americans vote on a single day and have their votes counted promptly. Perhaps most important, Americans now believe in democracy. We even presume to export it.
We should try democracy. Inertia and founder worship should not be allowed to obscure the plain fact that the people should choose the president. If no candidate wins a majority, have a run-off between the top two finishers. Shoot, it even works in France and Louisiana.
- Read Robert Schlesinger: GOP Attempt to Gerrymander the Electoral College Is the New Normal
- Read Susan Milligan: The GOP's Attempted Electoral Sabotage
- Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.