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How the Race Will Be Won

Not sure why this is irking me so much, but I read the opinion of Prof. Sheingate [Spring 2012]. I was particularly taken aback by his comment, “a better system would tie the outcome more directly to the popular vote.”

Is Prof. Sheingate saying that his system is better than the system set up by the Founders who put the Electoral College in place? If so, why? And, if it’s all popular vote, wouldn’t candidates spend even more of their time in only a few key places? Plus, the fear of smaller states would become even more pronounced as their relevance would almost evaporate, which kind of defeats the point of the Union in some respect.

I’m no expert, but if you’re going to attack and suggest the dismantling of one of the core tenets of Democracy, I think you need to put some more meat behind it.

Jeremy Epstein ’95

Response: In a recent piece for the New York Times, humorist Mo Rocca explored the effect of the Electoral College with a group of third-graders. The experiment was simple: Each student voted on whether they preferred markers or colored pencils; markers won the popular vote, 14-10. But when Mr. Rocca divided the kids into five groups (or states) and then counted the winner from each group in an “electoral college,” colored pencils won 3-2. Some of the kids were angry: “It’s about everyone’s vote,” one child exclaimed, “It has to be fair for everybody who voted for markers, not just for colored pencils. It’s 14 to 10, it should stay that way.”

Although there are many reasons to admire the Constitution the Founders bequeathed to us, the Electoral College violates a basic notion of fairness. Just ask a third-grader.
Here’s a link to the video:

Adam Sheingate, Associate Professor, Political Science