June 01, 2017

Advance Sheet: Thoughts on the Electoral College

Robert E. Shapiro

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For the second time in 16 years, the Electoral College last fall produced an election victory for a president who did not win the popular vote. Those unhappy with the outcome—the Democratic Party, this time as last—have begun calls to amend this portion of the Constitution, calling it antiquated and undemocratic. They have not always thought so. During the 2004 campaign, John Kerry looked like he might capture Ohio in the Electoral College vote, which would have handed him the election with, once again, a minority of the popular vote. Then it was the Republicans who cried foul, while the Democrats looked to the Electoral College for salvation. Though Kerry came close, it didn’t happen. But the point should be clear that political voices tend to raise themselves on one side of the matter or the other depending on whose ox is gored, which is no way to decide the fate of this venerable feature of our most sacred document.

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