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expert 3 minutes on . . . The Electoral College James Thurber Distinguished Professor, Department of Government, and director, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies major compromise at the It began as a In presidential elections, The House of voters vote for a Representatives slate of proportional representation in a drafting of the electors, who meet in the passed a change that would all of the states. Constitution. state capitals the Monday after the correct the I think that then the election Some people wanted to elect the second Wednesday in December to between the popular vote and would not depend primarily on president by popular vote. Other cast their votes on separate ballots the electoral vote, but the a handful of states, which is people, mainly from smaller states, for president and vice president. proposal failed in the Senate. where the didn’t want a president elected by Their votes are sent It’s never come up since. time. With proportional popular vote because the large by registered mail to I did an analysis of the close representation, the candidates states would dominate. the U.S. Senate, which and contested 2000 election. also would have The Constitutional Convention certifies them. Bush would have won if electoral to campaign approved the Electoral College on votes had been counted by vigorously in proportional representation. populous states. After 2000, however, I would not September 6, 1787. It’s arcane; it needs to be changed. I used to work for The term Electoral College was not written into federal law until 1845. The number of electors disparity battle was this Hubert Humphrey. outrage petered out He came within quickly, I vote because then the think because campaign would only be in three people realized it was or four states. We have many change it to a popular equals the number of each state’s 1 percent of winning the representatives plus its two 1968 election, but the outcome of senators. Since 1964 we’ve had the election went overwhelmingly hopeless to change 538 electors. for Nixon in terms of the Electoral the Constitution. large states, so a Two states, Maine and College. Practically, we’re not going popular vote to amend the Constitution— approach would Humphrey got 191. You need 270 If I had the power, I certainly because of what to win. But Humphrey lost by would change it. My solution, to happened at the proportional representation. 511,000 popular votes, which was make it more reflective of the Constitutional Convention where Whoever wins the congressional less than 1 percent of the total. views of more Americans, is to the small states didn’t allow it. district wins the electoral vote. This led to an make it more like Maine and The more things change . . . Nebraska, have Nixon got 301 electoral votes, amendment that was proposed to change the it’s too hard. more small states than we do never pass Nebraska. I would change it to Electoral College. Let’s talk #americanmag  5

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