Audrey J. Lynn

Document Type



In recent years, efforts to undermine or discard the Electoral College have gained substantial momentum, leading to a need for objective answers about how the system affects presidential elections. Using accessible quantitative techniques, this article answers three essential questions about the purposes and effects of the Electoral College using a unique approach that measures the electoral system’s success and potential in terms that correspond to its raison d'être, parameterizing the problem in terms of satisfaction and population instead of voters. This article dispenses with arcane, voter-based statistical models. It recognizes the Electoral College as a discrete mathematical system and applies more appropriate descriptive and predictive techniques to election data. The result is that the system’s effect on elections is quantified, related to historical data, and reliably forecast for the foreseeable future. This is the type of substantive analysis long needed to confirm or disprove the system’s merits. Part I first examines records of the Constitutional Convention to determine the Framers’ purpose in choosing the algorithm they did. Concluding that their purpose was to provide a president who would be representative of people across the country, the article proceeds to examine whether the system has achieved their goal. Part II describes the discrepancies there have been between the popular and electoral vote in order to fairly characterize the basis for controversy. It then proposes and applies a framework for assessing whether the Electoral College results in an effective expression of the will and interests of the People that is consistent with legitimate governance. Part III concludes with a mathematical analysis that proves that there are specific, calculable limitations on the size and distribution of a prevailing minority and illustrates that there is a continuing likelihood that winning candidates will be selected by states comprising a majority of the population.