The Electoral College was designed as part of the Constitution’s system of checks and balances to reduce the chance of tyranny or one-party rule. The Electoral College serves to balance the power of states against the power of a federal government.

Our Electoral College system provides for 50 democratic presidential elections to represent the desire of each state. Maine takes this one step further and splits its electoral votes to best represent each Congressional District as well as a statewide vote. This allocation provides voters from less dense, rural areas an opportunity to offset the desires of voters from more densely populated southern, coastal areas where issues affecting each population may be vastly different.

The upside is voters in the minority of our state can still have a marked effect on the presidential election, as witnessed by a sitting president visiting a town with a population of 1,500 in the last cycle and national news coverage of our single “up for grabs” electoral vote in Maine. Under a nationwide popular vote, that entire population in Maine will be ignored.

Detractors of the Electoral College argue the fairness of a “one person, one vote” system. But our American experiment is one of self-government, not rule by majority over minority. The framers of our Constitution were great students of human behavior who understood those who seek power also seek to consolidate and expand their own power. Their solution was to pit the interests of the powermongers against each other through a labyrinth system that would make it most difficult for any one person or political party to gain total control. The Electoral College is one more tool intended to preserve the rights of the most important minority of all: the individual. That’s why we have a republic, not a democracy.

Robert Chatfield
Cape Elizabeth