Every four years, the century-old debate over the Electoral College rekindles. Currently, as the contest between the Republican candidates intensifies and the remaining four rush toward the finish line for nomination, speculators are turning their attention toward the Presidential Election that is right around the corner. Predictably, the legitimacy of the Electoral College is once again under scrutiny. Although the Electoral College was an ingenious compromise establish by Framers of the Constitution, the development of the two party politics and the “winner-take-all” system has led it to the fail its original purpose.
When the Framers were drafting the presidential selection procedure of the Constitution in 1787, they presented an artful compromise to the issue of direct election. With the new country spanning thousands of miles along the Atlantic coast and barely connected by transportation or communication, it was impractical if not impossible to distribute information widely enough for every citizen to make an informed choice (Kimberling). In a direct election, this lack of knowledge about candidates living in other states would inevitably result in citizens voting for the candidate they knew the most about. Because the larger states have considerable more voters, presidents would be elected not for their political beliefs, but for their place of residence. Given the inability to spread information extensively, the Framers compromised by adopting the idea of representation. The people up and down the country would vote for local delegates with whom they were familiar with. These electors would then elect a president “pre-eminent for ability and virtue” (Hamilton 333). By devising the Electoral College, the Framers ensured the voice of the people be heard while letting a few elite individuals choose the President of the United States based on their own judgment after careful deliberation.
In fact, as Justice Robert Jackson states, the Framers of the Constitution established the Electoral College with the purpose “that electors would be free agents [who can] exercise an independent and nonpartisan judgment [and thus choose] the men best qualified for the Nation's highest offices” (Ray v. Blair). With electors coming together to vote for president, the Framers wanted to maximize the will of the people. However, the American party politics and political system have change so much in the past 200 years that the Electoral College is no longer holding up to its initial intent.
One of the problems the Framers did not foresee is the rise of the political parties. As these political organizations developed at the end of the eighteenth century, electors pledged to a certain party appeared. Today, it is the parties in most states that wield the power to choose their respective slates of electors (Longley and Braun 28). The existence of these electors, with their pledge toward a party, makes the ideal that free representatives should vote according...