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Alexander Hamilton’s Electoral College And The Modern Election

1865 words - 8 pages

Alexander Hamilton’s Electoral College and the Modern Election

Colin Campbell

Prof. R Hurl
TA: Matthew Lesch
Tutorial: Thursday, 4:00 PM, UC 67)
U. S. Government and Politics (POL 208 Y1Y)
1 November 2012
Alexander Hamilton’s Electoral College and the Modern Election
When American's leaders assembled in Philadelphia in 1787, they originally had the goal of solving issues that had arisen from the Articles of Confederation, which had governed the young nation since separating from Britain. Instead, they drafted a completely new document that established a more permanent and effective central government. With it, they established the office of President of the United States. Rather ...view middle of the document...

" (par. 3) Unlike the Congress, however, the Electoral College would never meet as a single body. Each state's electors would convene in their respective capitals, then send notice to Washington of their votes. Hamilton believed that keeping the electors apart would reduce corruption by making it more difficult for any one political faction to manipulate the contenders, allowing them to focus exclusively on serving the interests of their state. (par. 4) Furthermore, selecting the president through this independent body would mean that he is accountable solely to the people and not to a legislative body which could depose of him if the two branches were not in agreement. His re-election would not be controlled by legislative enemies and allies. (par. 6)
Each state would be granted as many electors has they had seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate combined, effectively compromising between the preferred plans of either all states having equal weight (as they do in the Senate) or distributing power based on population (as it is in the House). If no candidate were to receive a majority of the votes, the House would convene to select the President from the top five candidates. (par. 7) Hamilton wished for the vice-president to be elected by the same body and through the same method, except that the Senate would select the winner for this office if no candidate won a majority. (par. 9) He notes that this is one of the few aspects of the new constitution that received little dissent, and the final system was ultimately very similar to the one he described. The vice-presidency was, until the passage of the twelfth amendment in 1804, awarded to the second place-candidate. However, this inherently resulted in a rival with opposing political views being first in line to the presidency, and therefore the system was changed to allow the electors to vote for both positions separately. (Nardulli 23)
Each state is free to determine how its electors are selected, and various models have been used in the past. At the time of enactment, however, several assumptions about the system were made that would quickly prove to be untrue. It was generally believed that electors would selected from individual districts in a manner similar to congressmen, would exercise personal judgement when voting. It was also believed that they would frequently endorse candidates from their home state, ultimately meaning that no candidate would win a majority and that Congress would determine the victors from a short list of candidates. (41) Some states appointed their electors legislatively rather than through election, meaning that voters did not cast a ballot for either the president or the Electoral College. The emergence of organized political parties by the third election in 1796 led to nationally coordinated campaigns that severely reduced the number of expected candidates, and thus the likelihood that no one would achieve a majority. (44)
The results of the...

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