The original idea of the Electoral College

State population per electoral vote (2010 census)

State population per electoral vote (2010 census)

From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

‘Maine legislators have been debating whether to join an interstate compact that would have made the state give all its Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

I’m not happy when the Electoral College and the popular vote go in opposite directions, as in 2000 and especially in 2016, when the Russians gave the election to Trump, who they thought would be far friendlier than Hillary Clinton. Still, by making presidential candidates campaign all over the country and not just in densely populated states, the Electoral College supports federalism.

The Electoral College was originally meant to be a group of wise men who would use their individual judgments in choosing a president and act to block corrupt demagogues from the office. Now they vote almost always on a party-line basis.

Here’s Alexander Hamilton’s understanding, as expressed in Federalist Paper #68, of what Electoral College members would be and expected to:

They would be...”men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.’’

Members would be "most likely to have the information and discernment" to stop the election of anyone "not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications."

He warned that an election could be corrupted by the desire of "foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils." Hmm….

He wrote: “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; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.’’

What happened?