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A Brief Digression on the Electoral College

The system was built to defeat popular opinion, or what Madison called “rages.” It did that by multiplying veto points and giving extra weight to the affluent. In early days, property qualifications for voting were common; if you couldn’t afford land, you couldn’t vote. Women were excluded, as were enslaved people (although they counted as three-fifths of a person for apportionment purposes). The Electoral College was specifically put in as a safeguard against candidates pursuing such “improper or wicked project[s].” Even the Senate wasn’t elected by popular vote until the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913. Filtering the popular vote through carefully chosen men of means was intended to protect those men of means.

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