Many Americans take pride in the fact that the United States has a democratic form of rule. They believe they directly elect their officials to represent them. This is no true in all cases. The Presidency is not a directly elected office. Many Americans do not realize they do not vote for the President. The Electoral College actually elects the President. The Electoral College is a flawed institution that needs to be reformed.
The Framers of the Constitution devised the electoral system based on the fact they had little faith voters would be making the best decision. It was a check on the power of the voters. The Framers saw themselves above most citizens. The average citizen was not well educated, and therefore may make an unwise decision. This is no longer the case.
Before any debate it was assumed the best system of electing the president was to have congress do it. However, if congress was to elect the president, then the president might feel an obligation to help congress get certain laws passed by not vetoing. This would put a dent in the checks and balances system. Even with this problem the system was voted for and approved on four different occasions (Peirce 39).
Basically the Electoral College system works like this today. Every ten years the census figures adjusts how many representatives each state has. This number plus two, representing the two senators, equals how many electors each state has. Also Washington DC has 3 electors. Then each state has the right to decide how to select these electors. Forty-eight states use the general ticket system, two, Maine and Nebraska, use the district system. The general ticket system is supposed to operate as follows. There is a direct vote election held in each state and the winner of the vote is suppose to get all of that states electoral votes. In 24 states the electors are required to vote as pledged. In Maine and Nebraska there is an election held in each congressional district. The winner of every district gets one electoral vote, and the candidate with the most electoral votes gets the remaining two electoral votes. Then all of the votes are counted, and if a candidate gets more than half the votes, he becomes the new president. If there is no majority then the election gets thrown into the House of Representatives. There each state is given one vote and they vote on the top three candidates. If a candidate gets a majority vote, then he becomes president. If not they continue voting until a majority is reached and the speaker of the house become a temporary president until a majority is reached (Glennon 45).
The 1968 election race was extremely close. Richard Nixon barley received a majority of the electoral votes to win the presidency. Had Nixon failed to get a majority a number of bizarre scenarios might have emerged. The candidates in the race were Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace respectively. Had Nixon failed to win a majority Wallace would have been in a position to control who the next President would be (Bailey & Shafritz p. 65). Though he could not have won himself Wallace could have used his votes as swing votes to give Nixon a majority, or give Humphrey enough to prevent Nixon from getting a majority (Bailey & Shafritz p. 65). In the latter instance the issue would have, as in 1800, been sent to the House for rectification. In either instance Wallace would have had a great deal to gain, and the temptation to wheel and deal (at the compromise of democracy) would have been great indeed. It is possible Wallace could have used his influence with Southern House members to get Humphrey elected. In the process he would have likely garnered great political clout for himself. Wallace could have bargained with Nixon for an administration position in Nixon's cabinet in return for Wallace's electoral votes. The possible scenarios are endless, and for the most part irrelevant. What is relevant is that the processes of the Electoral College again paved a path for democratic compromise, just as it did in 1800's.
As I see it there are still two problems to the current Electoral College system. First