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Friday, July 30, 2010

Why the Electoral College Matters

It's been called "undemocratic," "a relic," and worse. Every fifty years or so, a movement gets underway to eviscerate or eliminate it -- one of the creakiest compromises that emerged from our Constitutional Convention in 1788.

I refer to the Electoral College -- that inelegant, less-than-perfect, but ultimately useful device by which we actually elect our presidents. Over the years, more than thirty constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress to gut the college or eliminate it entirely. None have ever passed the legislature and been sent to the states for ratification.

A few states have taken it upon themselves to circumvent the Electoral College by joining what has come to be known as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, where no matter the vote for president in their own states, they will apportion electoral votes based on the national popular vote totals. Massachusetts is the latest state to join this Compact, but it is unclear whether it would actually pass constitutional muster if challenged. 

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