Electoral College Reform Thesis

For the last year, the history of the Electoral College and attempts to reform it have been studied by Megan Baker, a senior who graduated last week from Southern.

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With the rise of the two-party system, the modern Electoral College continued to evolve.

By the 1820s, most states began to pass laws allowing voters, not state legislatures, to choose electors on a winner-take-all basis.

During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the delegates “distrusted the passions of the people” and particularly distrusted the ability of average voters to choose a president in a national election.

The result was the Electoral College, a system that gave each state a number of electors based on its number of members in Congress.

Today, in every state except Nebraska and Maine, whichever candidate wins the most votes in a state wins all the electors from that state, no matter what the margin of victory.

Just look at the impact this system had on the 2016 race: Donald Trump won Pennsylvania and Florida by a combined margin of about 200,000 votes to earn 49 electoral votes.

In November 2000, newly elected New York Senator Hillary Clinton promised that when she took office in 2001, she would introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College, the 18th-century, state-by-state, winner-take-all system for selecting the president.

She never pursued her promise – a decision that must haunt her today.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, won Massachusetts by almost a million votes but earned only 11 electoral votes.

The winner-take-all electoral system explains why one candidate can get more votes nationwide while a different candidate wins in the Electoral College.


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