The United States will once again embark on a new phase in its plotical journey by going to the polls and electing a new set of leaders to guide the nation on its future path. But unlike other countries, the elected leaders will win not by a popular vote, or how many votes that the new leaders will muster from the citizenry, but by a system called the electorla college. What is this entity and how does it affect the election of the leaders of the United States? Is it effective or just another layer of bureaucrarcy?
The United States Electoral College: A brief history
To understand the context by which the Founding Fathers conceived of the proposal for an electoral college in electing the leaders of the United States, we must delve into the circumstances attendant to that decision (William Kimberling, 1992). At the time, the fledgling nation was composed of only thirteen states bent on the protection of their sovereignty and jaundiced of any form of a central governing structure to rule over them (Kimberling, 1992). Aside from this positional dilemma, another issue that the Fathers tried to address was to strike a balance between the states’ interests and that of the Federal government and Congress and the White House on the other (Kimberling, 1992). After discussing several options, from the election of the President by popular vote to the State legislative bodies having a say in the choice, the Constitutional Convention boiled it down to the formation of a “Committee of Eleven” (Kimberling, 1992). This paved the way for the indirect choosing of the President (Kimberling, 1992).
The Electoral College: Abolish or Reform?
The Electoral College came to define a group of people that the law empowered to elect the President and the Vice President on state-by-state criteria (Los Angeles County Registrar). Although the College has been able to register uncontested results in 46 out of the last 50 political exercises, the present form of the body has been the focus of tenacious criticism and consistent calls for its reform (L.Paige Whitaker ; Thomas Neale, 2004). Proponents for the reform of the body aver that a close or in an election with multiple candidates running, there will be no clear majority winner in the elections (Whitaker ; Neale, 2004). Another problem that reform advocates see is the proclamation of a popular vote President, one with the most number of votes from the electorate but without the needed number of votes in the electoral college (Whitaker ; Neale, 2004). Or it could be framed in the reverse; the winner is proclaimed through the Electoral College but lost in the popular vote, or proclaiming the “wrong winner” (Encarta, 2008).
Those that argue for the abolition of the present Electoral College system say that the people themselves must be afforded the right to choose their leader directly (Encarta, 2008). Advocates either are pushing for the complete dismantling of the system or actively push for the repair of the seeming flaws in the system (Whitaker ; Neale, 2004). Proponents of abolition further attest that the nation has changed since the Fathers thought of the concept of the college (Encarta, 2008). This they say is the reason that the practice of the Electoral College in electing national leaders is archaic (Encarta, 2008).
In several studies for the reform or abolition of the Electoral College, it is evidenced that about 65 percent of Americans favor that the President and Vice President be elected through popular vote, rather than the present system of electors from the state choosing the leaders (United States Department of State-Bureau of International Information Programs). But supporters of the Electoral College say that the instance of a winner in the college while losing the popular vote is an exceedingly rare occurrence (Encarta, 2008). But supporters have devised a strategy to make the Electoral College more responsive and dynamic given the changing times (Whitaker ; Neale, 2004). One is the implementation of a district plan, wherein the state’s electors-at-large are given to the winner of the state-wide election: the proportional plan, with the electoral votes given in relation to the number of votes won by the candidate in the state (Whitaker & Neale, 2004). Another would just be the “winner-take-all” system, where all the votes of the state are given to the winner (Whitaker & Neale, 2004).
In the past, the call of the states was a more autonomous dealing in relation to the Federal government (International Information Programs). But the change in times has the states taking to task Federal authorities to assume more power unto itself (International Information Programs). The proposals for the reform of the system must be gauged in the accuracy of the results that it has borne over the centuries of its use (Whitaker & Neale, 2004). Until such time that the system of the Electoral College completely fails the people, it is expected to be aprt and parcel of the United States electoral practice in the years to come (Whitaker & Neale, 2004).
Kimberling, W.C. (1992). The electoral college. Retrieved November 3, 2008, from
Los Angeles County Registrar. (n.d.). Electoral college overview. Retrieved November 3, 2008, from
MSN Encarta. (2008). Electoral college. Retrieved November 3, 2008, from
United States Department of State-International Information Programs. (n.d.). Has the electoral college outlived its usefulness? Retrieved November 3, 2008, from
Whitaker, L.P., Neale, T.H. (2004). The electoral college: an overview and analysis of reform proposals. Retrieved November 3, 2008, from