An author and columnist says the often criticized Electoral College remains an integral part of the American Republic and its democratic process. She remains a staunch defender of that system, even taking on those who exalt the popular vote as a better reflection of people's choice in U.S. presidential elections.

In her new book "Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College" (World Ahead Publishing, 2004), author and American Enterprise columnist Tara Ross says although the Electoral College was harshly condemned by some after the 2000 presidential election, this feature of the U.S. election process is more relevant than ever. She says the electoral college is responsible for ensuring that all the states matter in the national vote, regardless of their size.

Many people misunderstand and therefore mistrust the Electoral College, but Ross says the institution is designed to protect the American Republic and promote liberty. "When you go to vote on Election Day," she explains, "you are not voting for the presidential candidate, even though his name is probably on the ballot in front of you. You are actually voting for a slate of electors who have committed to vote for one presidential candidate or another – Republican, Democrat, third party."

These electors come together about a month after the national vote in November, the author continues, "and they cast the votes that will actually decide who becomes President of the United States." Also, she contends that the Electoral College serves another function vital to democracy, because it encourages the campaigning presidential candidates to tour the states and foster national consensus among blocs of voters.

"Basically," Ross says, "the system ensures that, in order to become president, a presidential candidate has to win a majority of states' votes." In other words, presidential candidates have to build a coalition that spans the states. "They can't just focus on highly-populated areas," she adds, "say in L.A. or San Francisco or Dallas or Houston, or any other populated region like that. They have to build a coalition, and this is good for our country."

In "Enlightened Democracy," Ross defends the Electoral College against opponents who dismiss it as an outdated and elitist anachronism that should be replaced by a direct popular vote. The book examines the college's role in selecting American presidents across the centuries and makes a case for her assertion that this institution actually protects the Republic of the United States of American and promotes the very freedom its citizens enjoy.


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