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Why Keep the Electoral College?
Opinion - Part 2: Is America a democracy, or not?
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Why the EC?
Part 3: Can it Change?
 Join the Discussion
"Eliminating the electoral college wouldn't provide any clear benefits."
  Related Resources
• The Electoral College
EC Votes by State
Presidential Straw Poll
 From Other Guides
• Our First Election 
• GOP Fears Gays?
• The Debate & Women
A Letter to Bush 
 Elsewhere on the Web
• EC's Home Page 
Defenders of the EC

Critics argue that by taking the selection of the president out of the hands of the public at large, that Electoral College system flies in the face of democracy. America is, after all, a democracy, is it not? Let's see.

Two of the several recognized forms of democracy are:

  • Pure or Direct Democracy -- All decisions are made directly by a majority vote of all eligible citizens. By their vote alone, citizens can enact laws and select or remove their leaders. The power of the people to control their government is unlimited.

  • Representative Democracy -- The citizens rule through representatives who they elect periodically in order to keep them accountable. The power of the people to control their government is thus limited by the actions of their elected representatives.

The United States is a representative democracy -- under a "republican" form of government as provided for in Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution which states, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of Government..." (This should not be confused with the Republic political party which is merely named after the form of government.)

In 1787, the Founding Fathers, based on their direct knowledge of history showing that unlimited power tends to become tyrannical power, created the United States as a republic -- not a pure democracy.

The Founders were unanimous in their desire that no single entity, be it the people or an agent of the government be given unlimited power. Achieving a "separation of powers" ultimately became their highest priority.

As a part of their plan to separate powers and authority, the Founders created the Electoral College as method by which the people could choose their leader while avoiding at least some of the dangers of a direct election.

But just because the Electoral College has worked just as the Founding Fathers intended for over 200 years does not mean that it should never be modified or even abandoned completely. What will it take for either to happen?

Next page > What will it take to change the Electoral College System? > Page 1, 2, 3 

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