The Electoral College Versus a Direct Election System
“The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President…they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President” (Findlaw.com). The Twelfth Amendment set forth the rules and regulations for which the Office of President shall be determined. The founding fathers, in the second constitutional convention, laid the grounds on which setup what would be the Electoral College.
Adoption of the Electoral College plan came late in the Convention, which had previously adopted on four occasions provisions for election of the executive by the Congress and had twice defeated proposals for election by the people directly. So why not conduct a direct election, by the people? After all, the President was to serve the people.
There were four main reasons why the delegates of the Second Constitutional Convention wanted an electoral system. For one, a census as a prelude to the first election could not be taken. The first election served more as an appointment. There was not time for delegates to go back home, while under this newly formed Constitution, and search for delegates. Who would serve to defend the Constitution while this happened? The delegates knew this before hand.
The states had a wide variety of suffrage requirements. If electors were to be chosen on the basis of population, should slaves count as a property, or under population? Even though they held large populations, the larger states rejected the idea of a popular vote. Virginia, one of the largest states of the time, had a population of 748,000. Of those, 306,000 were slaves, which at the time wouldn’t count as population. This dwindled the lead of the larger states almost in half. The larger states would no longer control the population lead as their fellow states.
Registration and supervision of a national election would be expensive and very time-consuming. In the 1800s, ballot machines were not available to determine the votes on a wide-scale usage. So, ballots had to be hand-counted. And where an election would rest in counting every ballot, it would very time-consuming. And who would be in place to count these votes? Enslaved blacks would almost certainly favor the candidate who promoted freedom. The issue of bribery of vote-counters was brought up in the convention, and any talk of a corrupt government was quickly hushed.
With an Electoral College in place and guaranteed by our Twelfth Amendment, why should we replace a system that up until now, caused no problems? Why do critics continue to bombard the Electoral College with complaints of it being obsolete? Why do the majority of the population see it as an “unnecessary barrier to true democracy” (Kuroda)?
On September 4th, 1787, an appointed committee proposed a new method for electing the president, which took account...