Research papers on the Electoral College exmine whether or not the electoral college is still a viable means to decide a president. Or you can have Paper Masters write about the history of the electoral college in the United States.
Article 2, Section 1 of the United States Constitution established the Electoral College:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electoral College was founded in order to prevent mob rule from taking over in America. The men who wrote the Constitution were from the elite of the new nation, and wanted to ensure that the ruling class would remain so. Indeed, the direct election of US Senators did not occur until 1913 (17th Amendment). The citizen voter chooses the electors, who gather in December to vote for President in a "winner take all" system. In other words, whichever candidate receives more popular votes in a state wins all of that state's electors.
Winning the presidency is a matter of winning only those states with the largest number of electoral votes, based on the state's congressional representation. It is indeed possible for a candidate to win a majority of the popular vote, and still loose the presidency in the electoral vote.
The controversy of the electoral college can be witnessed in the following past instances:
- In 1824, John Quincy Adams received 108,740 popular votes and 84 electoral votes. Andrew Jackson won 153,544 popular and 99 electoral votes, but two other candidates (William Harris Crawford and Henry Clay) ensured that no one received a majority. The election was sent to the House of Representative, where Adams was declared President.
- In 1888, the last time there was a controversy about the Electoral College, Grover Cleveland defeated Benjamin Harrison in the popular vote, 5,538,233 to 5,440,216, but lost the Electoral vote 233 to 168.