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Book Chapter

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Department 1

Civil War Era Studies

Department 2



There is hardly anything in the Constitution harder to explain, or easier to misunderstand, than the Electoral College. And when a presidential election hands the palm to a candidate who comes in second in the popular vote but first in the Electoral College tally, something deep in our democratic viscera balks and asks why the Electoral College shouldn’t be dumped as a useless relic of 18th century white, gentry privilege. Actually, there have been only five occasions when a closely divided popular vote and the electoral vote have failed to point in the same direction. No matter. After last week’s results, we’re hearing a litany of complaints: the Electoral College is undemocratic, the Electoral College is unnecessary, the Electoral College was invented to protect slavery — and the demand to push it down the memory hole. (excerpt)

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.