The Most Compelling Reason For Keeping The Electoral College

VotingElection 2012.

Photo: Jay Yarow

Every presidential election seems to prompt the question: what good is the Electoral College?Well, there is at least one practical reason why the system should stay as it is, according to Judge Richard Posner.

The Electoral College prevents run-off elections, so it produces a clear winner, Posner writes in his column on

And he gives a good reason for that.

The current electoral system ensures we can still have a winner even if nobody gets the popular vote.

In 1968, for example, Nixon received only 43 per cent of the popular vote, but won the election by getting 301 votes in the Electoral College, according to Posner.

Clinton did the same in 1992 — again winning only 43 per cent of the popular vote, but winning 370 electoral votes.

The pressure for a run-off is reduced by the electoral college, which produces a clear winner, Posner argues.

Posner suggests this is a practical reason of course, rather than a liberal or conservative reason to keep the Electoral College in place.

“No form of representative democracy, as distinct from direct democracy, is or aspires to be perfectly democratic,” he writes. “Certainly not our federal government.”

To read Judge Posner’s other arguments in defence of the Electoral College, check out

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