reply to post by graphuto
It's a Constitutional matter -- see Article II, section 3, which has, however, been updated a little. It used to be that each state would have its
electors vote for two people, the topmost vote getter becoming president and the second highest becoming vice president. This was amended with the
12th Amendment in 1804, which essentially ratified a winner take-all system for the executive branch. Before this, it left it as a fairly awkward
case of the runner up becoming vice president, which evidently didn't work too well -- that or nobody liked it much in practice. And reading more
closely the fine print, I guess it doesn't say that states can't split their electors, but it has been tradition that they don't. If a significant
amount of such elector shenanigans did occur, political chaos would ensue -- and the two establishment parties certainly don't want that, so are
willing to abide by this tradition for the most part.
To respond to your question of why electoral votes are not delegated on a proportional vote basis, I believe they thought a winner-take-all system
was both more expedient, in that would decrease the chances of very close elections, but there is also a political reason -- that is, not to dilute
the political power of a state in its part in choosing the president. I imagine this would particularly be felt to be the case for larger states with
more electoral votes; if their electoral votes were split, it would give them less political power in choosing the president. And since at this time
slaves were considered 3/5th's of a person, I would think slave states would also want a winner take all system, so that their political power in
choosing the president would not be diluted.
Keep in mind that we have had political parties from almost the get go in this country, and that generally each state legislature is controlled by one
party or the other, so one can see why they would insist that their man (at the time, only men were allowed to vote, and reading the Constitution
literally, i.e. its use of omnipresent masculine third-person pronouns, it implied that only men could run for office) from their party get their
state electors' votes for president.
Out of curiosity, did you ever have a civics course on this subject. In high school (in the 1980's) we had a required class called U.S. Constitution,
which taught the history/founding of the country and how the constitution came to be written. I'm curious if such stuff is still taught.
edit on 7-11-2012 by MrInquisitive because: (no reason given)