Friday, February 13, 2015

A Case for the Electoral College and for its Faithless Elector

This paper by Stephen M. Sheppard is the first from the first first-ever WLR Online Symposium. It comes out of the conference November 7-8, 2014 at the UW Law School on "Is it Time to Rewrite the Constitution?" presented by the Wisconsin Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy.
"Every four years, the cry goes up to destroy the Electoral College. That cry is especially loud in years when a candidate is elected president who receives a minority of the votes. The election of a 'minority president' happened with the election of 2000, but it had happened before. The Electoral College has elected three presidents whom a majority of the voters voted against: Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W. Bush in 2000. (A fourth president was also elected with a minority of the popular vote—John Quincy Adams in 1824—though that election was by the House of Representatives, the Electoral College not having produced a majority of electors.) Against these recurrent cries are occasional voices of dissent, arguing for one reason or another that majority rule is not the highest value of a republic. So does this Essay, arguing to keep the Electoral College, even were the rest of the Constitution subject to wholesale revision."
Stephen M. Sheppard is Dean and Charles E. Cantú Distinguished Professor of Law at St. Mary's University School of Law.