In 300 Words Why the Founding Fathers Created the Electoral College

 

Signing the Constitution September 17, 1787 Painting by Howard Chandler Cristy

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787 most delegates favored Congress choosing the President, but there was a major flaw; the President would be too dependent on Congress for his job. (Electing the Present by popular vote was voted down 9 states to 1!). So they created a committee, with one delegate from each state (New York and Rhode Island absent), to solve this and other issues.

John Dickinson(Delaware) suggested they take a fresh look at how to choose the President. Gouverneur Morris(Pennsylvania) jumped at the chance to choose the President by any means other than by corrupt politicians in Congress. Along with James Madison(Virginia) they resurrected the Electoral College, which the Convention had previously rejected.

The Electoral College would consist of Electors from each state equal to the number of Representatives in the House, based on population, and its two Senators. Each Elector would vote for who they thought would make the best President.

Most of the political factions liked the Electoral College:

  • The states liked it because each state would decide how to choose its Electors.
  • The large population states would have the advantage when the Electors voted.
  • 95% of the time the Convention delegates expected no candidate to have a majority of the Electoral College votes. The House would choose from the top five vote-getters with each state getting one equal vote. Then the small states would have the advantage.
  • The slave states got extra Electors since 3/5 of their slaves counted as “real” people in the House. 
  • And the President would not be beholden to Congress for his job.

With each political faction getting something, the Convention voted 10 states to 1 to use the Electoral College.

Steve Scott, Blogger about Voting and Elections, Sarasota, Florida

 

 

 

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