The article below is the first of a 4-part series on the history of the Electoral College and the negative effects that Amendment 36 would have on it, if passed.
This article was authored by Pat Wilkes and sent to me via email. I'll post parts 2-4 as the week goes on.
PART 1 COLORADO BENEFITS FROM WINNER-TAKE-ALL ELECTORAL SYSTEM
In our November election, Coloradoans will have to decide on a ballot proposition that would award electoral votes on a straight proportional basis. The Electoral College has served us well over all our nation’s history, and there seems no reason to change it in Colorado except to satisfy current political resentment.
Forty-eight of 50 states have developed winner-take-all systems where the candidate receiving the greatest number of votes statewide receives all its electoral votes. The proportional distribution of electoral votes proposed for Colorado has never been accepted by any state.
The Founding Fathers created the Electoral College for two reasons. First
, the EC was never intended to reflect the national popular
will. The Founders insisted that the President be elected by the states
, not by the people. They felt it important that the "sense of the people" be taken into account, but they gave authority to independent electors from each state.
In a pure democracy, said James Madison in Federalist No. 10, November 22, 1787, “measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation, the evidence, of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true…”
. The Founders were rightfully wary of direct election to the Presidency. They feared that a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power. They were afraid of “mobocracy” and “popular passions.”
Madison, Hamilton, and other federalists believed that the electors would be able to insure that only a qualified person becomes President. They believed that with the EC no one would be able to manipulate the citizenry. It would act as check on an electorate that might be duped. The founders also believed that the EC had the advantage of being a group that met only once and thus could not be manipulated over time by foreign governments or others.
, the EC reflects the structure of the government over which the Great Compromise was fought to create a democratic Republic—it gives power and voice to smaller states which would otherwise be overcome and ruled by more populous ones. The Electoral College was crafted as part of the compromise made at the Constitutional Convention between larger and smaller states to satisfy the small states. The Framers rejected direct election not because they doubted public intelligence, but because they feared that the choice of president would always be decided by the largest, most populous states with little regard for the smaller ones. The EC was designed to protect a smaller state’s interest (like Colorado’s) against the will of a more populous state.
Those who want to abolish the EC say that it over-represents rural populations. However, this is exactly why it, as well as the United State Senate with two seats per state regardless of population, was designed. In fact, the Senate over-represents rural populations far more dramatically. There have been no serious proposals to abolish the United States Senate on these grounds—even from Hillary Clinton—so why should such an argument be used to abolish the Electoral College? Simply because the presidency represents the whole country? As an institution, so does the Senate.
Colorado is exactly one of the states that the winner-take-all system benefits. Proposed Amendment 36 would minimize Colorado's influence in presidential elections. Our nine votes are significant enough to pursue. But why would a candidate spend effort here if the most he could hope for is to flip a 4-5 margin into 5-4 margin?