I traveled to Greece in November 2000, at a time when the U.S. presidential election was still being deliberated.
Al Gore won more votes than George W. Bush. That recount of ballots in Florida hung up the final decision. Then came the Supreme Court ruling to stop the recount. Bush won the state’s electoral votes and was elected president.
The Greeks I met on that trip were baffled. How can someone get more votes than the other person and still lose an election? they wondered. Greeks are sophisticated folks. Their forebears gave birth to democratic government nearly 3,000 years ago. They understand politics and government.
I tried my best to explain the Electoral College to them. I sought to interpret what our nation’s founders had in mind when they created the system.
Here we are nearly two decades later. Another president was elected with fewer votes than his opponent. Now we hear from Democratic candidates for president who want to abolish the Electoral College.
I do not favor that electoral overhaul.
Am I happy with the way the most recent election turned out? Of course not! That’s not my point. Nor should it be the point of those who want to throw out the system that has worked quite well during the existence of our republic.
Eliminating the Electoral College would surrender smaller states’ power to the vast urban centers. The founders intended to spread the power among all the states.
I will concede that the past several election cycles have turned into fights for selected “battleground states'” electoral votes. Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Florida have gotten the bulk of candidates’ attention; occasionally, New Hampshire sneaks in among the bigger states.
In 2020, Texas might join the list of battleground states as well.
I just do not see the need to toss out the Electoral College system because someone was elected even though he piled up nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent, which is what happened when Donald Trump got elected in 2016 over Hillary Clinton.
The system isn’t perfect, but keep it anyway.
Here is what I wrote on the subject nearly five years ago: