Voting Out the Electoral College

Pete du Pont, writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, argues against altering or abolishing the Electoral College, pointing out that doing so would result in a major shift of power to urban areas – at the expense of rural communities.

The Electoral College is an institution that has been with us for over 200 years. The initial reaction most Americans have when asked about it is that it is undemocratic, which, of course, it is. But that is not a reason to abolish it. Without the Electoral College, presidential candidates would only go where large numbers of potential voters are – large cities. Thus, presidential campaigns would consists almost entirely of stops in New York, Washington, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Why bother with Knoxville? It would only mean the difference of a few thousand votes, almost certainly inconsequential in a country with a population of 300 million.

But a few thousand votes can make a difference in how Tennessee’s 11 electoral votes go. A few thousand votes can make a difference in who wins the electoral votes of any state. Thus states such as Iowa, West Virginia, Colorado, and Minnesota have real power in selecting the president. Without the Electoral College, no candidate would bother to visit any of these states. If you think New York and California hold too much power now, imagine how influential they would be without the Electoral College.

The Electoral College is not perfect, but it has served us for over 200 years. Few countries have enjoyed the stability that America has over the past two centuries. There has never been a coup in Washington. No defeated or term limited president has ever refused to relinquish his power. Clearly, we must be doing something right.

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