No matter who is running, each presidential election comes with a de facto bogeyman already picked — the election process itself. The electoral college is loathed, depending on the election, by Democrats (2000), Republicans (2012), Third Party candidates (1804-2012) and other activist groups.
Still, this is one of the best systems out there without a doubt.
Sure, other nations have other electoral systems, but few are as geographically massive or demographically diverse as the United States, and those are two of the major reasons why a system like the electoral college is so crucial.
The original point of the Electoral College was to establish the role of the president. Congress is the voice of the people and so is directly elected by people. The President is the leader of a federation of independent states, and should be elected by those states. That’s the philosophical grounding of the notion.
But still, there are several practical reasons why the electoral college remains crucial.
Rural voters grow your food
First of all, without it, rural voters would not matter in any way, shape, or form. Why would a candidate go out to the middle of nowhere to court rural voters when he could stroll through a single Manhattan apartment complex and meet 10 times the people for one tenth of the airfare?
Iowa would go from political necessity to regrettable layover without the Electoral College, and angering the people who grow our food is notoriously bad form for a President.
Election season is long enough already
Next, nobody wants to make the Presidential election season any longer or more expensive.
If you make it so a president has to travel to 50 states to court voters, That’s going to take time, and that’s going to take money. People are already furious that this presidential election could cost a billion dollars.
Dragging it out more months, jet setting from California to New York on weekends, that would make an already annoying election period into a downright intolerable one.
It’s the perfect test for a wannabe President
Even more, the current electoral system serves as an exceptional test in judgement for a future world leader — the Electoral College forces a candidate to make serious decisions in resource allocation and to coordinate large groups of geographically dispersed people.
Resource allocation is essentially the main task of the top government administrator. Removing that challenge would make it so the best candidate would be the one with either the most frequent flier miles or the strongest immune system.
Keeps errors local
The electoral college also localizes mistakes and problems. If it rains on election day, turnout is low. If there’s no Senate race, turnout is low. Why should a state with precipitation have less say than a perpetually sunny locale?
With the electoral system, If Ohio is rainy, it doesn’t mean it gets fewer electoral votes. Also: Recounts. The 2000 election was awful because it dragged on for weeks with recounts in a single state. How long would a national recount take?
Forces a majority
Still, here’s the most important part. Without the electoral college system, a President could be elected with a plurality rather than an outright majority.
The Electoral college forces a winner who has a majority of the electoral votes. Without it — and with a compelling third party — someone could become president with only 34 per cent of the vote. When 66 per cent of the country voted against the president, that doesn’t scream stability. How many governments has Italy had in the past 50 years?
Either way, it comes down to this. Americans live in a geographically immense, wildly diverse nation where people who live in highly depopulated regions grow most of the food. Without the electoral college forcing candidates to focus on these areas, the American president would fail to represent a group of united states, but would instead represent whichever city-based candidate could generate a mere plurality.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.