OPINION: Why an Electoral College

Fmr. Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson, shares his take on the electoral college

Fmr. Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson

It has been often said “what is the reason for the electoral college” around each Presidential election. Our founding fathers established the electoral college as a compromise between the election of the President by a vote in congress and the election of the President by popular vote of the citizens. They had a long debate between the two different ideas over many months before they came up with this compromise. Some of the founders felt the people might not have enough knowledge of the candidates, thus they felt congress should decide the President. Other founders felt the popular vote of the people should decide the President.

The college is a process, not a place. Each state appoints electors according to its congressional delegation, equal to in number of its senators and representatives. Every ten years, when the census is taken, some states' number of electors may change such as this year, (six states added electors and seven states lost electors).There are concurrently 538 electors, with a majority of 270 needed for a candidate to win the election. Each state has its own rules on how each party chooses its electors, with most states choosing by winner-takes-all method. Each party also has its own method of choosing the electors and who can be an elector. When we vote for a candidate, we are actually voting for a group of electors in our state. The governors in each state, after the general election, certify the list of candidates, the number of votes each candidate receives, and the names of individuals chosen as the state's electors.

The electors, in each state, meet in December after the election to cast their votes for both the President and Vice-President on separate ballots. The votes are recorded on a Certificate of Vote, sent to Congress, where they are counted as part of the official records of the Presidential election. On January 6th, in the year after the meeting of the general electors, a joint meeting of Congress is held to conduct an official count of electoral votes. The President of the Senate declares which persons are elected the President and Vice-President of the United States.

There have been over 700 different times that proposals to change the Electoral College have been made since the beginning of the United States. (It takes 2/3 vote of the states to change the process). Most of the reasons for a change is that there has been five times in the past history that a candidate received the majority of the popular votes of the people but lost in the Electoral College. The reason this happened is a group of small populated states such as North Dakota who have the same political affiliation, combined together, can win the election . This process gives the smaller states a better chance in choosing the President. Otherwise, the large populated states such as California , Florida, and New York would eventually control who the President would be. The trend of people moving from rural America to the large cities would cause the future Presidents chosen by a few large populated states.

Our founding fathers who formed our constitution and bylaws were very intelligent and forward thinking to provide us with the direction to create a country that has lasted over 240 years. It is the best country in the world! That is why so many people want to come and live here. We believe in freedom and equality for everyone!

Related Topics: DICKINSON
James B. Miller, Jr. is the Editor of The Dickinson Press in Dickinson, North Dakota. He strives to bring community-driven, professional and hyper-local focused news coverage of southwest North Dakota.
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