Five American presidents — two in the last 20 years — have assumed office without winning the popular vote. The most recent example, President Trump’s election in 2016, renewed vigorous debate about the Electoral College’s role in American politics. Supporters argue that the Founders wisely established the college to safeguard the republic against mob rule and ensure voters in less populous states have a voice in presidential elections. But opponents claim the college was created to protect the institution of slavery and that, in the modern era, it subverts the will of people and unfairly prioritizes voters in rural and swing states. As the nation looks to another Electoral College decision in 2020 and the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the landmark “faithless elector” case, we ask: Has the Electoral College outlived its usefulness?
This debate is presented in partnership with the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law as part of the Newton and Jo Minow Debate Series.