With only a week to go before the 2012 election, the race is effectively a toss-up between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, with the deciding votes likely coming down to a handful of so-called “battleground states”: Ohio, Nevada, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The winner, of course, will be whoever collects a majority of the 538 available electoral votes according to Article II of the Constitution.
The electoral college was devised by the framers of the Constitution as a way to prevent an unpredictable general population from directly voting for the president. Instead, their vote would count as a preference for how their state’s appointed electors should vote (although the electors are not legally bound to abide by those preferences). Such a system seems completely antiquated today, however. We have a much more organized electoral system and better technology, which should in theory reduce fraud. Besides, with many states strongly trending Republican or Democrat, many votes don’t seem to really matter. If you’re a Republican in California or a Democrat in Texas, for example, it seems pointless to vote since the outcome for your state is all but guaranteed. It’s no surprise, then, that in recent years there’s been a greater call to eliminate the electoral college, allowing the winner of the popular vote to be the winner of the election.
But I think you could actually make an argument for keeping the electoral college. Let me explain.