Tuesday, November seventh, the year 2000; fourteen years ago, millions upon millions of Americans cast their ballot for either Democratic candidate Al Gore or Republican George W. Bush for the presidency. Later in the election process the public would learn that Al Gore had won the popular vote of the nation. Also, the public learned that despite this fact, Bush had won the majority of the electoral votes, resulting in him becoming the next president of the United States. This event left many people questioning the legitimacy of the system for selecting a president, the Electoral College.
The Electoral College is an organized group of electors that has been in place since the founding fathers wrote the constitution. At this early stage in this nation’s history, the United States was a fresh, new nation with recently gained independence from the English. It was made up of 13 states which included approximately four million people, all of whom distrusted a central government and political parties (Kimberling). Finding a method that was both logical and accepted to elect a president was a pressing task at hand.
One idea the founding fathers had was Congress being in charge of electing the president (Kimberling). This however was rejected because this could lead to corruption and reflect the agenda of the congress member instead of the will of the people (“Electoral System”). The second suggestion was having the state legislatures each cast a vote representing their state; however, was rejected because it was thought that giving the state governments this kind of power would erode the concept of a federal government (Kimberling). As well as these ideas, there was also much discussion about whether or not a direct vote would be the best way to elect a president. This proposal was deemed unwise for very logical reasons, described here by Kimberling; a direct vote would be nearly impossible at this point in time. Travel and communication in 1776 was obviously nothing like what it is today. It would be nearly impossible to campaign in such a way that would allow every citizen to make an educated vote in a timely manner. Citizens would likely end up voting for a local or even voting without a clue because they could not gain adequate information. The best solution to the problem, resulted in the Electoral College.
The founding fathers borrowed the idea of the College of Cardinals, which is the assembly of Cardinals within the Roman Catholic Church that convenes when it is time to elect a Pope (Kimberling). They took this idea, and decided to assemble a college of electors, who were originally “the most knowledgeable and informed individuals from each state” to get together and cast a vote for the people (Kimberling). So to put into perspective; as congress makes decisions without our consent, we still elected them into office for that reason. The electors serve as a median, like congress, between the people and the central government.