Presidential Elections

The Electoral College

What are the arguments in favor of the electoral college?

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution and modified by the Twelfth and Twenty-third Amendments, the “College of Electors,” as the Founders called it, has served as the nation’s method for selecting its highest official for over two hundred years. Besides its durability and longevity as an election method, proponents argue the electoral college contributes to the cohesiveness of the United States because it requires that candidates receive a distribution of popular support in order to be elected president. In the twentieth-first century, no one region of the country contains the absolute majority (270) of electoral votes required to elect a president. Therefore, there is an incentive for presidential candidates to pull together coalitions of states. Proponents also mention that the electoral college contributes to democracy by encouraging a healthy, two-party system. It is extremely difficult for third-party candidates to secure enough popular votes in enough states to win a presidential election. In addition to protecting the executive office from fleeting third parties, the electoral college system forces third-party movements to converge into either the Republican or Democratic Party. The result is two large political parties that tend to fall within the center of public opinion, rather than multiple third parties with divergent fringe views. Surveys of political scientists have supported continuation of the electoral college.


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