Why the Electoral College Will Not be Abolished
Steve Chapman, a columnist at the Chicago Tribune, has an excellent short article on the electoral college this morning. It explains why the candidates spend a disproportionate amount of time in swing states. Probably most readers knew why, but he does a particularly nice job in a short space.
He ends with this:
Traditionalists regard the Electoral College as a sacred creation of the Founding Fathers, whose genius must be respected. But the Framers really had only the dimmest idea what they were doing. Historian Carl Becker wrote in 1945 that “their grasp of political realities, ordinarily so sure, failed them in this instance. Of all the provisions of the federal Constitution, the electoral college system was the most unrealistic–the one provision not based solidly on practical experience and precedent.”
Practical experience has shown that the only possible function of the Electoral College is to deliver the presidency to someone the American people have rejected. Democrats would be happy to abolish it. What would it take to get Republicans to agree? Something that could happen Tuesday.
But it won’t be abolished even if a whole lot of Republicans get on board. Why? Because doing so requires an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s conceivable, though unlikely, that 2/3 of the House of Representatives and 2/3 of the Senate would vote to abolish the electoral college.
Here’s the rub: Once they did so, 3/4 of the states–38–would have to ratify the amendment. But take a look at the electoral map. What do you see?
7 states have 3 electoral votes. (I’m leaving out D.C., which is not a state.) 5 states have 4 electoral votes. 3 states have 5 electoral votes. That’s a total of 15 states. If 13 of them block the amendment, it’s over.
And we can be almost certain that at least 13 of them would block the amendment. Why? Because the electoral college gives disproportionate power to thinly populated states. Unless the country’s population shifts substantially to 3 or more of these states, something unlikely to happen in the next 20 to 30 years, there will always be a blocking coalition.