NOTE: This piece is part of a collection of local essays on elections and trust.
I still have a high level of voter confidence and trust in our nation’s electoral system. The system was set up after careful thought, debate and consideration. It was a compromise between the large states and the small states and an alternative to the president being elected by the popular vote or being elected by Congress. Having grown up in a small state, I can appreciate that. It has only failed to reflect the popular vote five times in our history. The Electoral College may not be perfect and I do not always agree with the outcome but it still provides a way for the president to be elected from all areas of the country and not just the heavily populated areas. It offers a balance between rural and urban interests.
The United States is not a pure democracy where every law is voted on by the public with the majority having almost total control over rights and freedoms. Rather it is a republic where representatives of the people make the laws. A few years ago we had a ballot initiative in Missouri that was approved by the popular vote and became law. There have been many difficult consequences from that new law. It felt like many people just jumped on the bandwagon and thought “yeah, that’s a great idea” without thinking through the ramifications. Also, a popular vote could lead to run-off elections, political deal-making and ballot litigation. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln only received 39.7 percent of the popular vote. My question is, “Would he ever have been elected president without the Electoral College?”
So what would we replace the Electoral College with? At this point in time, I do not think that a better solution has been proposed and until something better comes along, I will continue to have confidence in the Electoral College as a way to elect our president.