* * * * *

Congressman Morgan Griffith

Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 11.20.16
By Congressman Morgan Griffith
 
Reasons for the Electoral College

Every four years, American news is dominated by the presidential election.  Pundits and analysts play up the drama, predict the outcome of the Electoral College, and endlessly analyze the results. 

Discussions of this year’s results are unavoidable.  Since the Republican candidate won the election, yet lost the popular vote by less than one percent, speculation has started on the purpose of the Electoral College.  Only five times in our nation’s 228 year history of electing a President have the results of the Electoral College not aligned with the winner of the popular vote (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016.)  Each time this has occurred, the losing party begins the complaints.

The Electoral College was designed by our Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, to be sure the President was elected by a federation of “States” and to maintain a balance of power between all of the “States.”

At the Constitutional Convention, several methods of electing a President were considered.  The Founders were constantly aware of the dangers of consolidated power, and had the incredible foresight to devise a system which distributed power.  The Electoral College was created to balance state and federal powers, and most importantly provide a voice to all “States” – not just the most populous. 

At the time of the creation of our nation, the smaller states worried about the largest states of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts ruling over all the rest.  Without the establishment of the Electoral College to prevent this outcome, the Union would have never been formed.

Each “State” was allotted two electors, in addition to the number of members the state has in the House of Representatives (based on population.)  Today, the electoral votes per state range from the smallest of 3 to the most for California at 55.  To win the Presidency, a candidate must win a majority of 270 of 538 electoral votes.  Therefore, even under the Electoral College, winning California gives a candidate just over twenty percent of the votes needed.  To match those 55, the other candidate would need to win the votes of a substantial number of smaller states. 

This election, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by approximately 1.3 million votes, yet she won California by 3.4 million.  If you take out that one state, Donald Trump won the popular vote.

With a simple popular vote, the megalopolis of the East Coast, combined with California, would control every election.  This would completely disenfranchise the flyover states, and rural areas of our country, including the Ninth District.  Presidential candidates would focus their entire campaigns in California, New York City, and a few other heavily populated coastal areas, with no regard for the farms, factories, and families who work to keep them operational living in between.

Some feel even in our current system that the voice of rural citizens like those in the Ninth are left out, and have proposed electors allotted by a “district system.”  The Constitution states that electors are to be chosen “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct,” maintaining the power for states to control their elector system.  In 48 of the states, winner takes all, but in Maine and Nebraska, the “district system” awards two votes to the statewide popular vote winner, and one electoral vote for the candidate that wins each Congressional District. 

If the method was adopted in Virginia, this year our state would have likely given six votes to Clinton and seven to Trump, as opposed to all thirteen votes to Clinton.

The Founders understood the will of the people and the consent of the governed was critical.  But they also understood that if a handful of states could always dominate the selection of the Presidency, then the other states would feel both disenfranchised and oppressed.  These feelings would exacerbate the divisions which naturally occur between the regions and could erupt into serious divisions within this union of “States” and threaten the existence of the Republic.  Interestingly, the solution was the Electoral College, known to be written by Hamilton in Federalist Paper No. 68, to make sure even the smallest of states had a part in the selection of the President of this union of “States.”

The Electoral College is there for an important purpose and has served our Republic well.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.  Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.

 
 
 

* * * * *

BACK TO THE JOURNAL'S HOMEPAGE!
* * * * *
KEEP UP WITH THE LOCAL NEWS! SIGN UP FOR ALLEGHANY JOURNAL BREAKING NEWS BELOW!
FREE Breaking News Sign Up Here!