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Direct Election v. Electoral College

June 16, 2008
by Nancy Salvato

The constitutional amendment process is a complicated and lengthy affair. This is because we cannot be certain what consequences might arise from a seemingly minor alteration of the Constitution. To be sure, exchanging the electoral-vote system for direct election would adversely impact the entire constitutional and political structure of the United States.

To begin, our Constitution is dedicated to securing everybody’s rights. This requires that we be concerned not only with size, but with the character of the majorities voting our president to office. There are many ways in which our Constitution is configured to prevent simple majorities.

? The federal system prevents less populous States from being engulfed by more populous States.

? A bicameral legislature divides responsibilities between House and Senate on grounds other than those of population.

? Power is invested in a non-elective judiciary.

? Each State has a minimum of three electoral votes in the Electoral College.

One way the Electoral College creates moderately characterized numerical majorities includes assuring that each state’s vote actually represents the state’s interests in the selection and election of Presidents. By requiring a majority of electoral votes to win the presidency, a political party must campaign in all or most of the States -expanding its base of support beyond a narrow geographical region.

Political parties must appeal to a wide range of interests in order to gain a majority electoral vote. This is an inducement to more moderate political platforms which are less likely to put off those on the fence and promotes compromise among minority factions who want their interests represented within the party, all of this taking place well in advance of elections. Compromise between minorities is what creates a majority. But it is well to remember that a party's capacity to command the allegiance of its followers is constantly challenged. Coalitions vary and parties are elected in and out of office based on support for their platform and their adherence to the platform while in power. Parties are wise to continually seek new bases of support and not to alienate any interests.

If the Electoral College was replaced by direct election, size, not the distribution of votes, is all that would matter. State interests would no longer receive the same consideration, their power diminished under direct election. No longer compelled to moderate their views or compromise with other groups within their resident States, interest groups would radicalize the public opinion influencing our Presidential Candidates, who would no longer feel compelled to present a broadly based platform within each State, or even campaign in all the states. Minorities would find their political power greatly diminished. Our Constitution would no longer secure everyone’s rights.

For more comprehensive information about this subject, go to:
Direct Popular Election of the President
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Nancy Salvato is the President and Director of Constitutional Literacy Program for Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) research and educational project whose mission is to re-introduce the American public to the basic elements of our constitutional heritage while providing non-partisan, fact-based information on relevant socio-political issues important to our country, specifically the threats of aggressive Islamofascism and the American Fifth Column. 
 

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