With the election season just around the corner, New Hampshire has once again secured the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Other state primaries follow in the winter and spring.

But according to a new Gallup poll, many Americans don’t care which candidate wins each state.

In fact, according to that same poll, 62 percent would prefer to amend the Constitution so that the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide becomes President. Just 35 percent of Americans would keep the Electoral College. Which raises the question, why not get rid of the Electoral College?

Before we answer that question, let’s brush up on our knowledge of the Electoral College, the body that under the Constitution formally elects the President.  Each state is given a number of Electors equal to its number of Representatives and Senators. By amendment, the District of Columbia receives the electoral votes it would receive if it were a state. The candidate with the majority of Electors—270, at present—will be president. To simplify somewhat, the candidate who wins the plurality of a state’s popular vote receives all its electoral votes, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, who appoint some of their electoral votes by congressional district.

Julia Shaw from the Heritage Foundation explains that the Founders designed the Electoral College to be more than a complex way of electing the next President.

The Electoral College preserves federalism, encourages candidates to build national coalitions, and grants definitive electoral outcomes. It requires a presidential candidate to win simultaneous elections across 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Electoral College, Shaw argues, magnifies the margin of victory for presidential candidates and creates a sense of legitimacy.

In 1992, Bill Clinton did not get a majority of the popular vote (only 43 percent) but he received 70 percent of the electoral votes. Most elections have not been close in the Electoral College, even when the popular vote is close. For instance, in 1960, John F. Kennedy won only 49.7 percent of the popular vote, compared to Nixon’s 49.5 percent. However, Kennedy won 56.4 percent of the electoral vote, compared to Nixon’s 40.8 percent. The magnification of the electoral vote can work to solidify the country behind the new President by bestowing an aura of legitimacy.

What do you think? Do you think the Electoral College serves the same purpose today as was intended by our Founding Fathers?

Comments (63)

frank flees - October 28, 2011

I vote for popular vote to win!!!

walt - October 28, 2011

The Electoral College remains one of the last preservations of federalism. It has been 99 years since the States committed virtual suicide with the 17th amendment. 98 since The congress assisted in the demise of federalism with the Fed Res.
What is needed to retain our freedom is education in how and why it was established and how easily it can be eradicated

James R. Lansford - October 28, 2011

We were formed as a Federal Republic not a so-called “pure democracy”. As our country developed it was clear that the major centers of population would control the government. This would leave the rest of the voting public out in the cold. Too bad more people don’t realize the forward looking framers of our Constitution were people who were quit a bit wiser than the most of the populatuion today.

Danielle C. Gleason - October 28, 2011

I have never understood why we keep the Electoral College system. It makes no sense in today’s world. Either a candidate is elected by a majority of VOTERS or not.

Billie Pugh - October 28, 2011

Yes, we should keep the Electoral College!! Without it, the elections could be won by major cities with large populations and the rural areas would have no role in who won the election. Fly-over country would be just that for all politicians running for office & attempting to get their pet bills passed!!!

George Fellows - October 28, 2011

Absolutely supports the important role states should play in our national politics. In this vein, the amendment which instituted direct election of US Senators should be repealed.

Jim Brown - October 28, 2011

If the country ever goes to electing presidents on the basis of popular votes we will seal our own fate and be relegated to the ash bin of history. Recall the efforts of ACORN anyone and you’ll fully understand the importance of the Electoral College system. Our founders truly love this country. Can’t come close to saying the same when I look at the Progressives that live only to destroy what our forefathers created. To all whom dispise our society there is transportation everywhere that will take you to whereever it is that you think is better. While you’re looking for that better locality please continue to hold your breathe.

Leonard Hartman - October 28, 2011

Without the electoral college it is my understanding only a few population centers (like Chicago) would be the only places the presidential candidates need to do their stumping ! The majority of the country people don’t count.

John G. Wells - October 28, 2011

If we abolish The Electoral College the election would be decided by Florida, the East Coast and the West Coast.
Liberals would win every time with the big cities. This would take the vote away from the rest of America. Our founding fathers were able to set the voting up right. Let us not fall for this effort to steal all National Elections.

Helen Singel - October 28, 2011

Retain the Electoral College! I believe our founding fathers were very wise men who established the best form of government. They wanted to prevent the most populus states from controlling the entire country.

John Larsen - October 28, 2011

The Electoral College was inacted to prevent the larger populated states from controlling each election.The smaller states will become irrelevant if the system is changed to favor only popular vote.

Walter Knudsen - October 28, 2011

I support the electoral college for the reasons stated by Heritage. In addition, direct popular election becomes just a popularity contest subject to much manipulation by the media as shown in the election of Mr. Obama, and, I believe, marginalizes the electorate outside of the east and west coast populations. I would also support a constitutional change to put the election of Senators back into the State legislatures so as to restore balance in our federal system. The people have expressed their choices in whom they elect to the House of Representative. After all, we’re supposed to be a representative republic.

Joseph McKennan - October 28, 2011

The electoral college seems to be just another complication that is unnecessary. The Founders could not possibly have seen the way New York and California tell the rest of the country what to do. What is the difference — a state gives its electors to the candidate with the most votes. Why do we need to complicate it?
The candidate is still allegedly elected by the amount of popular votes. With a socialist takeover in the offing why keep the door open to corruption. why?

Lawrence Lasecki - October 28, 2011

Keep the Electoral College.

J. C. Muse - October 29, 2011

Yes, we should maintain and protect the Electoral College. Again, it keeps an area of the country from dominating others based on their population

Harry Snyder - October 29, 2011

Billie Pugh has it right. It has been known by knowledgeable people for two hundred years that a handful of states, whether 1792, 1892, or 1992, could “elect” the President if the raw vote were the governing rule. The other states could and would be ignored, not just at election time, but every year, because the “don’t count.” Election campaigns would be beamed to the dozen or so large states with large cities, the other 38 being ignored both in promises and in financial largesse. Large and generous grants or other sweeteners would be given these states to encourage voters to vote “the correct way.” The Presidential election would become a sham, a farce. (Which might suit certain groups in the nation.)

Dick Blazer - October 29, 2011

I believe the electorial college should be retained because it represents one of the few remaining constraints against an ever increasing unitary power coming from and ever more remote national government.

David Cook - October 29, 2011

I vote for the electoral college. Lets not reduce state soveirgnity more. The states have very litle power to balance against the Natinal Government since the 17th amendment. lets not reduce it more. You are absolutely right walt.

Kenneth A. Thompson - October 29, 2011

The 17th amendment has caused the stalemate in Congress we have today. It should be repealed! We strongly need founding father education. We also need to resume the pledge of allegiance in our classrooms and to Federalism in our government. .

Nancy - October 29, 2011

I think we should keep the Electoral College. James R. Lansford has correctly stated the case for retaining this institution.

Pamela S Lee - November 4, 2011

Living in a small state, population-wise, it is difficult enough to see why I should vote. Besides, I am ‘way out west’.

I say keep it the way the Founding Fathers made it with the Electoral College and educate the people as to why we need it. We also need to teach our people (the legal ones anyway) to vote!

Voting is a priviledge; we all have a responsibility to vote.

Mark Korb - November 6, 2011

A few years ago, Colorado State Sen. Bob Bacon (D) proposed Colorado join a consortium of states where the electoral vote would be proportional to the combined votes cast–sort of like Nebraska. Of course, add in California and the narrow margins which might exist in Colorado, Wyoming, and the Dakotas are overwhelmed. On the basic principal that the lowest level of government knows what is best for it, loss of the ability to have local issues influence national elections makes States into County subdivisions of the Federal Government.

Walter Archer - March 28, 2012

I like the idea of the electoral college but not the structure of it. I don’t like that my electorate can choose to go against the wishes of his constituents. If the electorate has free will to vote for whomever he/she wishes then why does my vote matter at all. It’s basically like saying “you can vote but if I don’t like who yall chose I’ll just make the executive decision that you are all wrong.” This ruins democracy in my eyes(granted we are a democratic republic). If electorates were forced to vote the way their constituents felt then I would be 100% behind it, because if it is not set up this way then we are all basically saying that people are too stupid to choose for themselves and we need the government to tell us who is best to run OUR country. Also it should be noted that I would never say that it should be based on popular vote alone, but it also shouldn’t be completely out of the people’s hands.

Anthony Hurtado - February 25, 2016

We’re one of the last developed nations that still adheres to an outdated and undemocratic method of choosing the land’s top elected office. Under our outdated electoral college system, my vote, as a conservative voter from California, doesn’t count, why the heck should I even vote for President? If it were a popular election, I’d have an equal voice, as would citizens from states big and small, red or blue and we’d have a larger voter turnout instead of the embarrassingly low rates we have now. The truth is, my beloved Republican Party has been hijacked by the military industrial complex (read about President Eisenhower warnings on that matter) and religious zealots that only need to convince “battleground” state voters and neglect the needs of the rest of us. I am for small government, isolationist foreign policy of our founding fathers, separation of church and state, pro-business tax policy and our 2nd amendment. My GOP has been taken over by idiots and I am ashamed to call myself a Republican.

Ana - September 11, 2016

The Electoral College cannot be abolished.

Many people who advocate against this don’t even know how the process in this system works. The vast majority of Americans want Popular Vote because they say it’s their right, as they live in a democratic nation. But let’s remember the Framers designed an INDIRECT democracy because they did not trust the people to make logical, educated decisions – which is more than reasonable. We don’t even have to get into depth with the technical political aspect of this issue to see that terminating the Electoral College would be a terrible decision. By nature, people are emotional and impulsive, meaning that Americans don’t vote based on what policies each candidate brings, rather they base their decision of how much they like their personality and how much they can relate to that candidate, which is incredibly biased. Things should be done in an objective manner. And I’m sorry to say this, but only most educated people are capable of exercising such skill (the Electoral College for example). Most Americans can shed light on the latest Kardashian trend, but they can’t even respond to a question as simple as, “Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?”

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust, in the slightest, that kind of American to vote for the leader of my nation.If America voted for a president through the popular vote, it would be like going back to high school, where everything was a popularity contest. Ignorance is not Democracy. We all need to be educated on politics before arguing what should and shouldn’t be changed in the U.S. Constitution.

BlurpNuggen - October 15, 2016

I think we should abolish the electoral college.

kathrine - November 2, 2016

I don’t know what the answer is but let’s not fool ourselves it’s the big cities in the states that elect the president a sad but true fact so not everybody’s vote counts!

Macey - November 8, 2016

The electoral college needs to be eliminated. Our government is supposed to be “by the people, for the people” and your example of electoral votes versus popular vote shows that The People are not being represented. Like many outdated systems, it and the political party machine should disappear. Maybe then the people will truly be represented.

Mibe Reefs - November 8, 2016

We should totally scrap the electoral college. It makes people’s votes mean more and have more weight solely because of where they live. If you want voting to be as fair as possible, then everyone’s vote has to have the same weight. In order for that to happen, then we will do away with this electoral college BS and determine things via popular vote. Anyone for the electoral college is for a rigged and unfair system.

Amy - November 9, 2016

I’m not sure where you read or heard that electors were the “most educated”. To my knowledge they don’t take some test and they don’t have to be Mensa members. I’ve read that some are appointed simply based on their years of public service. That is not the yardstick I would use to deem someone “most educated”. Please do not tell me that you believe someone is more educated just because they have years of public service! I can name many who would fail using that logic. Additionally the framers did NOT form the electoral college because they thought we were idiots! It was based on population issues. I have a huge issue with your rather biased opinion that the majority of Americans aren’t educated enough to vote “properly”. Who are you to decide what is proper?! My vote is based on what policies I feel are proper for myself, my family and my community. It is my belief that most Americans vote with those same issues in mind and if they don’t, guess what? Like it or not that is their right! To state that myself and others will/would ALL vote like highschool students wanting to be part of the “cool crowd” is not only offensive, it’s an insult to my intelligence. Turning my vote over has always bothered me especially knowing they don’t necessarily have to vote as I did. Thank goodness history has shown for the most part electors have voted with the majority but there is no guarantee they always will. Im sure we can agree America has changed greatly since the Electoral College was formed. We should, at least, explore the possibility that it no longer suits the same needs it did in the beginning.
In addition to no test ensuring above average intelligence, contrary to you’re belief that they are the “most educated”, they dont and can’t know each of us, our situations and our communities. For these reasons and more, I’m not at all happy MY vote isn’t completely MY OWN.

Katy Reid - November 9, 2016

“Bestowing an aura of legitimacy” surely sounds like a load of crap. How about actual legitimacy?

Cheryl J Davis - November 9, 2016

Popular votes should be all that counts! Get rid of those nasty electoral votes!

Trevorbofmem - November 9, 2016

popular vote matters hillary would have one and most of us wouldhave not been suicidal

Dr Kay Davies - November 9, 2016

The Electoral College does makes me feel my vote is not that important = I feel left out of the election. I live in California which always goes Democratic whether or not I vote.
In this 2016 election, my vote would have been important only if I had lived in one of the swing states. If we were to chose the president by the popular vote then my vote and everyone’s vote no matter where you live would count.
Elections. Elections should not be about where you live, but about you feeling your personal vote counted.
To make everyone’s vote really count we should get rid of the Electoral College. I see several people talking about keeping the Electoral College
because the election would be decided by the largest population states. I always though people elected the President, not states. It is people, wherever they live that vote for the President. If you keep the Electoral College you then disenfranchise the people who live in populous states. That is not fair to them. Why not let everyone have a real voice in the election of a President by abolishing the Electoral College. As long as there is
an Electoral College, it has become almost pointless for me to even vote. I would like to feel my vote counted.

chris bloomfield - November 9, 2016

In these modern times the electoral college is doing exactly what the founding fathers were trying to prevent. Year after year all we hear about is the 3 or 4 swing states that decide the outcome of the presidential election. for the most part red states stay red and blue states stay blue and it’s the purple states that elect the president. It’s high time that each Americans vote counted! An added benefit would most certainly be a much larger voter turnout if everyone knew that their vote was actually going to mean something.

ASD - November 10, 2016

Do you understand the definition of the word vote? The majority wins period. If your party has an agenda then it is your party’s responsibility to convince others that your agenda is beneficial not to some but to all. Then you can win the vote and thus win by the popular vote. The electorial college is nonsense. The supporters of the electoral vote are afraid to admit that your conservative views are overwhelmingly supported by bigots and the super rich. There are some point I could align with but overall the movement is distasteful because of the stench of of the fore mentioned. Scrap the electorial college and their silly vote. I for one don’t need my state to speak for me. Let EVERY vote count.

Martha Fowler - November 10, 2016

I think the American people should elect the president, not the Electoral College! It’s time for the Electoral College to go! Amend the constitution or whatever is necessary!

Sylvia - November 10, 2016

This is an antiquated system set in place during the slavery era. They weren’t so much forward thinkers but men who had to give some kind of voice to States with large slave populations. Slaves who could not vote. This system should have been out the door the day slavery was abolished.

Brooke - November 10, 2016

Many people argue that the electoral college is in place so that everyone has an equal voice and so that certain states don’t decide the election for the rest of the country. This is already happening people. Currently, the “battleground” states have most of the power, which is why politicians target them the most. You can’t win the election if you don’t win certain states, no matter if the majority of the other states vote for the other candidate. Besides, each state has a different amount of electoral votes, therefore some states have more of a say than other states anyway. None of it makes any sense. Therefore, the argument for the electoral college is invalid because each state does not have equal say. The electoral college of each state doesn’t even have to vote for the candidate that has the popular vote for their particular state anyway. In the end, I do think the popular vote should be the final decision. Who cares where someone lives? Each person’s voice should count equally. Just because someone lives in a certain place doesn’t mean they will definitely vote for one candidate over the other. Regardless of where you live, everyone has their own opinion and beliefs. Everyone in the country has an obligation to be informed on the facts, not just base their decision on how much campaigning a candidate does in their state. Anyone can go online and watch/hear these speeches. How much a politician campaigns in your state doesn’t change what the candidates stand for. So no matter where you live, we should all be equally informed and each of our votes should be equal. Maybe we should require that each candidate campaign in each state equally. Also, someone was worried that “Large and generous grants or other sweeteners would be given these states to encourage voters to vote “the correct way.”. I don’t think this actually happens as it is, but if there isn’t a law against this already in place, we could enact one.

Ellen - November 10, 2016

This is ridiculous. The electoral collage NEEDS to go!! It should only be up to the states.

Gary - November 10, 2016

Katherine: “it’s the big cities in the states that elect the president”

If anything, the 2016 election proved that to untrue. Solidarity among suburban and rural voters elected Trump, not just big cities. It’s also true that The negatives on both candidates drove the election and Hillary’s negatives elected Trump more than Trump’s positives. Either way, I’m glad we have the Electoral College in place to form a well-defined majority and avoid national recounts on the scale of Bush v Gore in Florida.

Andrew - November 10, 2016

What is with you people? Didn’t you watch the election? Hillary Clinton won the big cities and still lost the states. Trump campaigned hard in rural areas and won them. The Electoral college is a big reason why people don’t vote because as you saw with this election and the one in 2000 your vote doesn’t really count. Clinton won the popular vote which means more people wanted her but it didnt matter because our individual vote doesn’t matter. My god the system we have was founded in 1787 a lot has changed since then. Maybe we should change too

R.M. Knight - November 10, 2016

I think we need to be more democratic and let the people decide who’s president. It seems like no small coincidence that in the four elections where the democrat had the majority and the republican had the most electoral votes. The republican nominee won. How can we have this when we insist in the case of new democracies worldwide they adhere to the popular vote? We need to strengthen school curriculum so that we have informed voters and drop the electoral college which many feel is an opportunity for corruption.

Alex - November 11, 2016

People arguing that fly over states would be ignored by politicians running for office fail to remember we know have TV and Mass Media (i.e., internet). 1 person 1 vote — all concerns can be brought to the table and debated. The electoral college system is out-dated and will only add to the growing frustrations and anger facing our country today.

Diana - November 12, 2016

I think we should get rid of electoral college. Ir is not Democratic and it relies on the fair creation of districts which are created by unfair designs for political purposes.

Tim Stowers - November 12, 2016

Anybody that doesn’t understand the brilliance of the EC, needs to read the Constitution! It keeps a candidate from concentrating on 3 areas of the country where population is highest! Americans are as stupid as they have ever been in history! Thanks govt schools!!

Robin M - November 13, 2016

It is not true that major centers of population would control the government without the electoral college; that assumes that all the people in a given area vote the same way. That is not the case. The world would be a very different place if Gore, who won the majority vote, had been President.
It’s time to practice democracy in presidential elections and let the majority decide.

Dennis Nendza - November 14, 2016

Virtually every reason the EC was created is now moot. Election experience shows electors to be partisan and not interested in correcting the vote to deny a “bad” candidate. Every state has a different number of voters per EC vote skewing the importance of some voters over others. Communications have become pervasive. No need to carry the vote to Washington in person and vote. The EC worked when our country was in its formative years, but today it is a system to be gamed. One person, one vote. That’s how it should be for America. The idea that city voters are less worthy of being counted equally to a rural voter is reactionary story spinning.

Paul - November 14, 2016

All my life I have been told “every vote counts”. Somehow this does not ring true to me and I would like to see this system eliminated so the person with the most votes wins. This has nothing to do with the present campaign, I didn’t vote for Trump, but I am willing to stand behind him and have already sent him a letter with a tax plan and a medical coverage plan that would probably be more equitable and fair.

Paul - November 14, 2016

This system the electoral college was put in when a bulk of the people were not educated at all or had no reading skills. They were also doing a lot of manual skills like farming and didn’t have the time or interest to make a difference. Take a look at the people who make up this elite group. How many of them have had police records, wife beating charges and other ugly backgrounds?
If they are anything like our representatives we are in trouble.

Autumn J - November 14, 2016

I absolutely do not think the electoral college fits today’s society We preach to people that their vote matters…then when the president with the most votes loses how are we supposed to explain that. when it comes to the presidential election our votes don’t matter. especially if you live in a “safe state” and vote against the majority of your state.

Noel Lindsay - November 22, 2016

I’m a Republican in California and feel like my vote doesn’t count in U.S. presidential elections…because it doesn’t. The Electoral College is no longer necessary and should be eliminated so everyone has an equal voice in the election of their president.

bill - December 4, 2016

Get rid of electrol vote

Samuel af Ugglas - December 20, 2016

As long as voter fraud is accepted and illegal persons are present in U.S you should stick to the present rules.

Marcus - December 21, 2016

The Electoral College is very important to balance the influence of the biggest states on elections with the smaller states.

Jo-Ann - January 3, 2017

The electoral college is no longer a sound system with the population concentrating in a few states. It is so unfair that a large percent of the population no longer bothers to vote as they know their vote won’t count.

Jeff Beallas - January 23, 2017

If we went by the popular vote, no one would question the legitimacy of the elected president. Time for the Electoral College to be done with.

Jeff Beallas - January 23, 2017

The whole idea of having the electoral college, was to prevent someone who is unqualified from getting into the Presidential office. Look what just happened, are you kidding me, the republicans did not want Trump in office. Here is something you will hear to justify the electoral college.( But let’s remember the Framers designed an INDIRECT democracy because they did not trust the people to make logical, educated decisions.) . What a joke! I am sure you will not post this comment. If you do thank you.

Andrew - September 13, 2017

Without the Electoral College, the east and west coasts would control who the president was. The issues of fly over states would no longer matter to the president and rural areas would not be visited any longer.

Lonnie S Stinson - March 7, 2018

I think people should have the right to vote for who they want in office,feel and states counties where I’m an old man, tho ,I thought this was a free country :Putin and Trump are in cahoots I am a democrat but have voted for a republican for in my life But when another country runs our lives its time to Quit

Christopher A. Berry - June 30, 2019

Please forgive this old man for having an opinion but it seems to me that the Electoral College is a tool of Communism. Unless I woefully misunderstood the Constitution, the people are the government (WE THE PEOPLE). The constitution gives the people the right to choose their leader(s), and the Electoral College takes that right away and puts it in the hands of a select few. Am I the only person who sees a major problem here? I firmly believe that, given enough time, the Electoral College will DESTROY this country. Had it not been for the Electoral College, Donald Trump would never have seen the inside of the Oval Office (in an official capacity). I will not be the least bit surprised if Donald Trump, and his flapping mouth, gets this great nation into a SHOOTING WAR with some other country. And it does not matter which country it is. In this modern age, with its plethora of modern weapons and precision delivery systems (NUCLEAR, CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL), the next war will very likely be the LAST war waged because the Human Race will no longer exist. GOD HELP US ALL !!!

Charles Wyatt 15 - January 6, 2020

Christopher Berry
What nobody who is against the electoral college will see is that it is a group of 51 separate elections (DC being one of them) with the winner of those elections winning the states. In my opinion it should be changed remove the electors, make it a vote that is automatically given once a candidate wins the state

Ka dy - February 1, 2020

Yes let the people have a voice. Each American should count. We all have to pay taxes and live in this country. Why can we not be allowed to pick who runs it. The parties have torn it in half. If they had to prove they deserve our vote in every state maybe things would change.

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