As 2011 winds down, presidential hopefuls are gearing up the next level of their campaigns for the 2012 election. Republican contenders are stepping up their advertising, town hall meetings and debate rhetoric as they enter the final weeks before primary voting begins in January. And while incumbent President Barack Obama is reported to be embarking on the nation's first $1 billion effort for voter support, American citizens are preparing to exercise their constitutional right to vote for "none of the above" in November.
That is because the United States constitution allows voters to vote only for electors in the electoral college, who then select who will be the next president. Perhaps this seems to be a small technicality, but critics of the electoral college argue that the possibilities of unfaithful electors and electing a president that has not won the popular vote make it worth changing the Constitution to scrap the system.
What critics fail to realize is that the electoral college was more than a practical solution to election logistics in the days before cars, telephones or the Internet. The college, which America's founders agreed upon in the Constitution, has a much broader application than its practicality.
Here are just five examples:
- The electoral college requires more widely- distributed support than popular vote alone. In the 2000 census, the most populous nine states contained just over half the U.S. population. The electoral college prevents a candidate from being elected by the support of a small group of large states.
- The electoral college enhances the status of minority interests. Because presidential candidates must appeal to a wide variety of voters all across the nation, they must appeal to their many priorities and address their varying concerns.
- The electoral college promotes a two-party system. Though some see more vice than virtue in this attribute, the two-party system requires compromise that keeps the nation from either conservative or liberal extremes while restricting any one party from gaining unchecked authority.
- The electoral college upholds a federal system of government that respects state sovereignty and representation. As the United States of America, not the United Citizens of America, the role of states in the election of our common leader remains an important one.
- The electoral college isolates the impact of election problems from dangling chads to election fraud. Even the most successful attempts to intentionally sway an election have historically remained isolated to a single state, minimizing the effects.
The electoral college continues to deliver stability, integrity, practicality and equality in our modern election system. The next year will see another intense campaign for the nation's highest office. It will be the privilege of Americans to participate in selecting our leader through the electoral college next November.