Live By The Word

Six Reasons Why Experts Are Arguing for and against the Electoral College

2. The Electoral College ensures that we still have a president even if no one wins a majority of the popular vote

Former White House Counsel Peter J. Wallison argued on that the Electoral College is necessary, especially when third party candidates are introduced. 

“The most important [thing] that we want the presidential election to settle [is] the question of legitimacy—who is entitled carry on the office of the president,” Wallison asserts. 

Well, he argues, the Electoral College makes this decision clear especially when no candidate has won a popular majority. 

Wallison uses the example of the 1992 election which landed Bill Clinton in the White House. Wallison notes that while Clinton won the Electoral College, he was nowhere close to winning a majority of the popular vote. In fact, Clinton won a plurality of the popular vote, only receiving 43 percent of the popular vote with 19 percent going to a third-party candidate. When Clinton won the Electoral College, it made it clear that he had legitimacy over the presidency.

Why not have a system that allows the candidate with a plurality of the popular votes win, you may ask. Wallison tackles that too. 

“If we abandoned the Electoral College, and adopted a system in which a person could win the presidency with only a plurality of the popular votes we would be swamped with candidates. Every group with an ideological or major policy interest would field a candidate, hoping that their candidate would win a plurality and become the president, he wrote for

Photo courtesy: Elliott Stallion/Unsplash


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