New York Times Editorial on the Electoral College
The Electoral College remains a deeply defective political mechanism no matter whom it benefits, and it needs to be abolished.
Yesterday’s Times contained its quadrennial howl calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. (The Tarnish of the Electoral College - NYTimes.com). I confess, I don’t know if the paper really calls for the college’s elimination every four years, but it should.
The editorial admirably goes through the reasons for its abolition. At heart, the college is undemocratic—with real consequences. Reforming or eliminating is not just an abstract need driven by “mere” democratic principles. It should be reformed because it grossly distorts governance.
Yet, people have been calling for the college’s demise almost since the beginning. A large majority of the American public has favored its elimination for the last 50 years at least. And we have never gotten close to the goal.
There’s one initiative underway that seems to have some promise. It circumvents rather than eliminates the college. The National Popular Vote is an interstate compact, whereby states sign on committing to allocate their Electoral College votes to the winner of the national vote, rather than of that state’s vote. Once a group of states that cumulatively have 270 college votes sign the compact, it will go into effect. And voila, the winner of the national popular vote will automatically become President. (Check out the website for more information on how the compact works).
Right now the Compact has about 134 votes under its belt. So it’s halfway there.
If you want to read more about how the college works and arguments pro and con, you can check out this very nice excerpt from the book in slideshow form produced by Newsbound.
Image of 1824 Electoral College tally which propelled John Quincy Adams to the presidency over Andrew Jackson. Adams almost certainly lost the popular vote. Source: National Archives