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The Electoral College works
18 October 2004 - Los Angeles Times

Three letter-writers on Monday took up the call for the abolition of the Electoral College in favor of direct popular election of the president. The publicís lack of knowledge is indeed a problem, but shouldnít we endeavor to understand why it was put in place before we go around calling for its removal?

This nation was founded as a constitutional republic delicately balancing the powers of government between two sets of three parties: the nation, the states, and the people, in addition to the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of the federal government. The methods used to select the members of the three branches were intentionally made different to reduce the likelihood of a tyranny being put into place by the majority over the minority.

Congressmen are directly elected by the public and are the direct representatives of the people to the federal government (thereís your "one man, one vote"). Senators used to be selected by the state legislatures and were supposed to be the direct representatives of the sovereign states - since the 17th Amendment, theyíre directly elected as well. Judges are appointed by the Executive but are under the Constitutional authority of the Legislative. The president is supposed to be the figurehead of the federal government, not a direct representative of the people (itís called the United States of America, not the United People of America), and as such, the use of the Electoral College to elect the president was a masterstroke by the Framers. It prevents a president from being elected by a simple majority or plurality either of the people or of the states; it gives power to states proportional to their population (so that smaller states canít overwhelm larger ones), but does not ignore the people of the smaller states (so presidents canít focus solely on dense population centers, but must carry a mandate from the nation as a whole).

The Electoral College works, and it works the best when it needs to the most - in a tight election.

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