D.J. Tice made some very insightful observations in “Don’t be too quick to scrap the Electoral College.” I agree that the Electoral College was carefully devised by the founding fathers as a constitutional process intended to make the popular vote for president representative of the wide diversity of the many individual states that make up our nation. The Electoral College makes it less likely that the total vote for president in smaller states and rural areas will be rendered meaningless through being overwhelmed by the vote tallies in large urban areas and states.
Smaller states and a wider geographic area of the country have more of a say in the outcome of the presidential election by virtue of the Electoral College process.
However, my research has led me to believe that the Electoral College was instituted by the founding fathers for another important reason as well. It was devised as a “fail safe” mechanism to safeguard our nation from electing a president possessing questionable and dishonorable motivations, even if that candidate receives a majority of the popular vote.
I cite as authority Federalist Paper No. 68, in which author Alexander Hamilton observed that corrupted individuals could potentially be elected president, particularly those who are either associated with a foreign state, or who do not have the faculties necessary to serve effectively as president. As Hamilton wrote:
“Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate [through the Electoral College] for the distinguished office of President of the United States.
“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment” [referring to the Electoral College electors].
It is apparent that the Electoral College is embedded in Article II Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution for some very carefully considered reasons addressing the selection of a capable and honorable person to occupy the most prominent and important single position in our federal government: the presidency. It should not be amended or repealed without careful consideration of the intentions of the founding fathers of this nation.
I also wish to state that I do not intend to make or imply any political opinions or observations by my statements here. Nor do I represent or express the views of any entity or organization with which I am affiliated. My views are purely personal and expressed in my capacity as a private citizen. My intent merely is to inform the readers of this publication of some of the factual and legal underpinnings of the Electoral College contained in our Constitution. I leave the readers free to form their own opinions.
Frank Kundrat is a district court judge in St. Cloud. The opinions expressed here are solely his own as a private citizen.