There has been much debate over the Electoral College. For example, when Bush and Gore were fighting over the Florida vote and Bush won, he actually had fewer popular votes than Gore, but had more electoral collage votes. Many felt this was inappropriate – that the majority of the people should rule.
Why did the Founding Fathers incorporate the Electoral College into the Constitution? Some say, ”Well, they didn’t think about something like this happening.” Actually they did think about something like this happening, and it is the very reason they developed the Electoral College.
What the Founding Fathers were trying to do was create a system of checks and balances between the popular vote and the state vote. The Founders continually debated over ”states rights” and federal power. If the United States of America were a democracy, then we would go simply on the popular vote, but the United States of America is not a democracy. It is a republic (see the Pledge of Allegiance).
Now, I’m not talking about political parties here, I’m talking about systems of government. A democracy is rule by majority. A republic is rule by law. In our case, the law is the Constitution.
The Electoral College is in place to prevent the majority vote of densely populated states from overpowering the rest of the nation. It is in place to give an equal footing for the states. In the Bush-Gore election year, Bush had 30 states while Gore had 20 states. So, Bush did have the majority of states, while Gore had a slightly higher number of individual votes.
This is one of the few times in American history that the Electoral College influenced an election in a powerful way – a way that the Founding Fathers intended. It protected us from a pure democracy, which the Founding Father’s feared.
As James Madison stated, ”Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths… A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.” (James Madison, Federalist Papers, the McClean Edition, The Federalist Paper #10, page 81, 1788 )