December 21, 2012

In the Dec. 17 Fed Page article “Obama still needs crucial vote — from electoral college,” Josh Hicks wrote that the nation’s founders opted for an electoral college because they “feared the type of absolute democracy that led to the Reign of Terror in France.” Given that the Constitution was adopted by the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and the French Revolution began in 1789, this seems unlikely.

One factor (unmentioned in the article) that was a significant motive for adopting an electoral college was slavery. Because a slave under the Constitution counted as three-fifths of a person for representational purposes but could not vote, the electoral college gave the slave states an advantage in choosing the president that they would not have had in a popular-vote election.

Jeffrey Gorsky, Arlington