Electoral College

I’ve just discovered that the Technique printed my letter to the editor in their February 29 edition. Unfortunately, they printed my original letter with an atrocious error (of mine) in it, and my hastily-emailed correction didn’t make it into either the printed or online edition. Oops.

Just to prove I can do simple arithmetic, here’s a corrected version.

To the editors:

In your February 22 issue, you printed an editorial from the University of Connecticut titled “Electoral College an outdated institution.”

The article claims that “in a time where there were not even light bulbs,” our candidates for President “crisscrossed the country” to campaign in elections. This is inaccurate; the modern tradition of cross-country campaigning is a 20th century invention. Earlier candidates stayed home and talked to newspaper reporters; party officials and surrogates in each city led local campaign rallies.

But the premise of the article is that, since we have TV, YouTube, and the Internet, that we should do away with the Electoral College as a mechanism that has “outlived its purpose.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Precisely because we have 24/7 campaign coverage is why the Electoral College is more valuable than ever. If we scrapped the Electoral College, a successful candidate could focus just on densely-populated media-saturated areas and collect enough votes to become President. Do we really think such a candidate would reflect the needs of Montana? Or, closer to home, rural Georgia?

For those who claim that it’s “unfair” that a candidate (like Al Gore) can “win the popular vote” and still lose in the Electoral College… Al Gore knew the rules on the day he entered the race in 2000. And precisely that situation happened three times before in American history (1824, 1876, and 1888); the Republic did not fall. You have to win by the rules; complaining about the rules later is just sour grapes.

Imagine a best-of-three playoff series in baseball. Team One wins the first game 2-1, loses the second game 5-2, and wins the third and deciding game 2-1. Sure, the fans of Team Two can claim that their team “won the runs count” by outscoring Team One by 7 runs to 6. But any Team Two fans who claim that their team should be the champion look selfish and small.

Kind of like the author of your guest editorial.


  1. Stephen,
    Your comparison of the necessity electoral college to necessity of playoffs in baseball is possibly one of the best I’ve seen. I agree with you that the electoral college remains important because even though we have a lot of information today, I don’t know that the aerage joe six pack is actually any more informed about the facts. Our soundbite world can lead the rank and file to form some inaccurate conclusions.