The Cunning Coney wrote:
(Not being able to make sense of the electoral college through ignorance this is a real question...only could you make the answer succinct???? I have to go out soon. ; ) )
Since I don't know your clock, i don't know if i'm answering in time for you, but you can read this any time.
Roger, in his response immediately after yours, partially answers. Without the Electoral college, you could just count out everyone but California the belt of cities running from Boston to D.C. and from Chicago east to New York. Farmers, ranchers, miners and everyone else in the Midwest and the West (other than California) could kiss their franchise goodbye.
I also object because the Electoral College was a part of the sovereignty compromise, part of the mechanism--along with the creation of a Senate--which reconciled "small states" (small in population, lead in 1787 by New York and New Jersey, ironically) that they would not be swallowed by the then "unholy" triumvirate of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, which between them had about two-thirds of the country's population.
I also object because the author of the piece which CdK quoted trots out a bullshit old chestnut at the very beginning of the article, to the effect that the Electoral College was a means of enshrining slavery. The author is historically ignorant, and confuses cause and effect, and the principle of unintended consequences. The Three-Fifths compromise, to which the writer refers (with 60% of the slave population being counter for purposes of determining Congressional districts and representation) was one of the last measures taken by the convention. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney South Carolina threatened that the constitution would not be ratified by the slave-holding states (slaves were held in every state at the time, but the northern states would soon adopt varying degrees of restrictions on slavery, and many northern citizens were publicly and vocally opposed), unless concession was made for the slaves states. Surprisingly, he was supported by Rufus King of Massachusetts, who happened at that time to be a delegate to the convention from Pennsylvania, and who therefore spoke (inferentially) for the second and third most populous states (Virginia was the most populous, and a slave state). King was being a pragmatist, and many northerners agreed with him that some compromise was necessary to get the slave states on board, and that a flawed union were better than no union at all. This was further modified when two of the "scholars" of the convention, James Wilson of Pennsylvania (a Scots Presbyterian born in Scotland) and Roger Sherman of Connecticut proposed counting three-fifths of the slave population. Southerns had said that all slaves should be counted (although, of course, they wouldn't vote), and northern states were not prepared to go along with that. Wilson and Sherman were extremely well-informed and careful scholars of law and the history of law, and like Rufus King, felt that a compromise which would keep the southern states in a union was preferrable to no union. The three-fifths compromise was one of the last acts of the convention, and the sovereignty compromises of the Senate and the Electoral College had already been determined upon prior to the three-fifths compromise, and without reference to it.
His second chestnut is that which claims the Electoral College was conceived as a bulwark against the ignorance of the electorate. Although there may be elitists who thought that way, the principle concern of the men meeting at the convention was the unweildy nature of elections at that time, but most importantly, the insistence of small population states that they not be overwhelmed by the mere numbers of the populous states. The second clause of Article 2, Section 1 reads:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
Each state then and today can choose how to allocate electors, and even how they are chose within the state (there would be quite a howl, though, if it did not follow the popular vote, and it would be worth their jobs for state legislators to attempt to take it out of the hands of the electors). Some states (or at least one, Colorado) allocate the Electoral College votes according to the popular vote, with the two votes equivalent to the Senators going to the candidate who polls the most votes. The problem which maddens most contemporary American commentators is the "winner take all" nature of the system as it now stands. That is a product of the post-Civil War politics of the Republican and Democratic parties, the only two survivors of the war (four candidates ran for President in 1860), which warily circled one another looking for advantage, but which both agreed that it were best not to have any other competition. A winner take all system for Electoral College votes was agreed upon between them in the latter part of the 19th century, and passed by the state legislatures, all of which were in the control of one or the other of the two parties.
So i object on the basis of the editorialist's argument being based on popular (popular in the late 20th and early 21st centuries) historical myth, and the blatant attempt to tie the Electoral College at the outset to slavery, in a pathetic attempt to beg the question by discrediting the institution by means of guilt by association. Besides being about a measure of which i don't approve, the editorial was a piece of journalist hogwash.