I've been reading lots of speculation about the 2004 election, and I want to comment briefly on why the Constitution will never be amended to eliminate the electoral college and allow for the direct popular vote to select the president.

The amendment process requires a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress to make the proposal, and this proposal must then be ratified by 3/4 of the state legislatures. Since there are currently 50 states in the Union, all it takes is 13 states to bury a proposed amendment.

Under the electoral college system, states with low population have a number of electoral votes disproportionate to their size, and their populations clearly have a significant interest in maintaining this power. Wyoming's 3 electoral votes give the state 0.558% of the total 538, even though its population of 498,703 is only 0.173% of the total population of the country (288,368,698). Wyoming's electoral power (and representation in Congress, incidentally) is more than 3 times higher than it's population should warrent under a purely democratic system. As a result of this math, every state that possesses a number of electoral votes below the median would be harmed by the elimination of the electoral college, and so no such amendment could ever pass. In fact, as more people shift to urban coastal cities, the relative power of the depopulated states increases.

Hey, that's undemocratic! Why yes, it is. But then, a lot of our Constitution is undemocratic, and specifically designed to protect minorities from the tyrannical rule of the majority. In this case, the minority in question isn't racial, but geographic.



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