The Electoral College is not an outlier”

Sep 10, 2020

It’s a line used often by critics of the Electoral College: no other country would let the candidate with fewer raw votes win the election!

It’s also wrong.

Charles C. W. Cooke, the editor of National Review Online, has the latest rebuttal, taking Jesse Wegman of the New York Times to task for claiming that, “No other advanced democracy in the world uses anything like it, and for good reason.”

Wegman and his fellow cavilers are wrong. Many other countries eschew direct popular votes when choosing their executives — and a good number of those do so explicitly in favor of systems that aggregate the results of local elections when staffing the national government. …

There are, in fact, very few “advanced democracies” that pick a chief executive via a national popular vote (the prominent exceptions are France, Ireland, and South Korea), whereas in both non-advanced democracies and in tyrannies, the practice is common. India, the world’s largest democracy, does not. Nor does Germany, the most powerful nation in continental Europe.

The concept of a two-step democratic process is common in large nations. So is the use of geographic districts to both represent and protect local interests. The Electoral College does both of these. As Cooke says, “it is not unique — not by a long shot — and its critics should refrain from pretending otherwise.”