Those Founders were fully familiar with vote fraud and electoral distortion, which is, after all, as old as democracy itself — and they had a plan to deal with it.
Indeed, to get a glimpse of what such corruption looked like in the English-speaking world of the 18th century, we might examine a series of four prints from the great illustrator William Hogarth,
published in 1755, offering a somewhat comic look at the era’s oftentimes messy politics.
The knowledge of such rottenness helped inspire the drafters of the American Constitution, led by James Madison, to devise the Electoral College. Most obviously, the college gave specific rights to each state — a precious concept, then and now — and yet at the same time, it put a check on the eruption of popular irregularities, including corruption.
As an ally of Madison’s, Alexander Hamilton,
wrote in Federalist #68 — one of the pamphlets written in support of the Constitution — “Nothing [is] more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.”
One of the features of the Electoral College is what we would now call
compartmentalization; thus the national election for president is actually a series of state elections, thereby hopefully compartmentalizing a problem into just the affected state. As Hamilton put it, one strength of the college was that it was “dispersed as they would be over thirteen States.”
Hamilton was fully aware of one of the chief dangers the new republic would face: “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State.” And yet, Hamilton continued, thanks to the compartmentalization of the Electoral College, it would be difficult for such a dubious person to gain the “esteem and confidence of the whole Union.”
And that’s one reason why we will always need the Electoral College. Today, Minnesota might have a “rotten borough” in its midst, and it may or may not choose to do anything about it. So what’s necessary, then, for the sake of the republic, is that such corruption is localized.
Indeed, we can see that if we didn’t have such compartmentalization, thanks to the college, then fraud in one state could potentially overwhelm the country as a whole. That is, if there were no Electoral College, and if the total of popular votes were all that mattered, and thereby determined the national victor, then who knows how many people could be registered at, say, 419 Cedar Avenue South in Minneapolis — and how many of their votes, or “votes,” could contribute to the national total.
Mindful of these dangers, the Founders wisely set up our precious constitutional system, including the Electoral College — precisely to stop “low intriguers” from taking over. So we should keep the college, as is, and ignore the renewed efforts of liberals to
do away with it.
And in the meantime, for the sake of Minnesota, we should take a close look at vote corruption in Ilhan Omar’s district. Indeed, Democrats should wish to join the anti-fraud effort, too, as the immediate losers in Minnesota have been those Democratic candidates on the wrong end of the Omar machine. Yes, as this author
wrote awhile back, Democrats are going to be forced to realize they, too, have a stake in clean elections.
So while there are plenty of other rotten boroughs in the U.S., Omar’s district looks like a great place to start the cleaning up.