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December 15th, 2008
09:57 AM ET

Is it time to junk the electoral college?

Jonathan Soros
Wall Street Journal

In his election-night victory speech, Barack Obama said he would be a president for all Americans, not just those who voted for him. But as a candidate he didn't campaign with equal vigor for every vote. Instead, he and John McCain devoted more than 98% of their television ad spending and campaign events to just 15 states which together make up about a third of the U.S. population.

Today, as the Electoral College votes are cast and counted state-by-state, we will be reminded why. It is the peculiar mechanics of that institution, designed for a different age, that leave us divided into red states, blue states and swing states. That needs to change.

The Electoral College was created in 1787 by a constitutional convention whose delegates were unconvinced that the election of the president could be entrusted to an unfiltered vote of the people, and were concerned about the division of power among the 13 states. It was antidemocratic by design.

Under the system, each state receives votes equal to the number of representatives it has in the House plus one for each of its senators. Less populated states are thus overrepresented. While this formula hasn't changed, it no longer makes a difference for the majority of states. Wyoming, with its three electoral votes, has no more influence over the selection of the president or on the positions taken by candidates than it would with one vote.

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Filed under: 2008 Election • Barack Obama • John McCain • Voting • Voting issues
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Stacie

    Yes – get rid of it!!

    December 15, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Its past time to junk the electoral college. We outgrew it years ago and the election in 2000 proved that. I live in a RED state but I generally vote BLUE. It doesn't do me any good to vote because the majority of people in this state are going to vote for the GOP so I might as well stay home and not waste my time. If the electoral college was gone my vote along with any other Democrats in this state would finally count. That would be refreshing...and fair.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    December 15, 2008 at 11:51 am |
  3. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    YES, it is!

    December 15, 2008 at 11:38 am |
  4. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    IF...... the Electoral College had been abolished, Al Gore would have been our 43rd President, instead of Bush!

    Gore won the popular vote!

    Popular vote is what should count!

    HOPE TRUMPS FEAR & HATE.

    December 15, 2008 at 11:30 am |
  5. Cindy

    I think that the electoral college should have been done away with long ago. There really is no need for it now. And it just makes us going out to vote not matter any how if they are going to vote any way that they want too regardless of what we say.

    Now if the National Popular Vote compact was enacted and they had to cast a vote going with who won the popular vote in that state then I think that would be great. That would mean that our votes actually matter and count. I have often heard people say that they don't vote because their vote doesn't count because of the electoral college. So I think with the NPV compact that would get more people out to the polls.

    Cindy..Ga.

    December 15, 2008 at 10:40 am |