What is the significance of the Electoral College in the U.S. History?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would say that, in general, the Electoral College is much more significant in the study of American government than it is in the study of United States History.  However, there have been some times when it was significant for US history as well.

I would argue that the Electoral College was most significant to US history when it was created.  This was when the Constitution was written and ratified in the 1780s.  At that time, the creation of the Electoral College helped allow some people to accept the Constitution.  The Electoral College was a way of satisfying both the people who wanted more democracy under the new constitution and those who wanted less.  The Electoral College allowed the people to have some degree of say over who would be president.  This was attractive to the people who wanted democracy.  At the same time, the creation of the Electoral College put a few steps between the people and the actual vote for the president.  This was comforting to those who believed that the people were not to be trusted with the vote.  Thus, the creation of the Electoral College allowed the Constitution to be acceptable to a variety of people.

Since then, the Electoral College has only really been significant in a few instances.  Let us look at two such instances.  One was in 2000 when George W. Bush won the Electoral College vote and became president even though he lost the popular vote.  Bush was therefore president when the 9/11 attacks occurred.  It is impossible to know how Al Gore would have handled the response to those attacks, but the fact that the Electoral College exists helped put Bush in office and allowed him to be the one who led the response to 9/11.  The second important instance was in the 1876 election.  Then, disputes over the electoral vote sent the election to the House of Representatives.  This led to a compromise settlement in which Rutherford B. Hayes became president and Reconstruction ended in the South.

Thus, the Electoral College has played a significant role at various times in the history of the United States.  

laurto's profile pic

laurto | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

The electoral college is a very important part of the United States political system. Its purpose is for all the states to have representation when choosing a president. The problem with the EC is that it over rides the national popular vote and allows candidates to win enough votes through the bigger states to win. The EC allows the candidate to act independently without having to please congress so they vote for him.

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