What Was the Electoral College For?

I have a short essay out now in Contingent Magazine. A couple of teachers have remarked that they have already found it useful for talking with high school students. (It’s probably short enough and glib enough to elicit a number of different kinds of responses.)

In the article, I consider the original purpose of that most mysterious of jury-rigged institutions, the electoral college—and I point out that, despite the stated intentions of some of its framers, the Constitution still does not guarantee Americans the right to vote for president at all.

“Fundamentally,” I argue, “the electoral college failed to work as designed because its design was contradictory in the first place.”

The whole article is available for free. Educators may also want to look around in the magazine’s curated collections of articles for classrooms. If you find them valuable, please consider supporting Contingent in its work.

Teaching for First-Time Voters

electionday

With a U.S. general election coming up on Tuesday, I’ve been encouraging my students to vote. I included voter registration information in my syllabuses, sent out email alerts as the state registration deadline approached, and explained the basic registration rights of college students in class.

I’m sure some students are voting by absentee ballot in home counties or states. (Pennsylvania does not offer early in-person voting.) For those who registered locally, it’s time to do what I can to encourage personal turnout.

Continue reading “Teaching for First-Time Voters”