Few scholars of election administration have ever accused Al Gore of being a serious thinker. He now wants to abolish the Electoral College because he claims it cost him the presidency in 2000. Of all people, Mr. Gore should have learned from the Florida recount in 2000, that raw popular vote counts alone are a terrible way to close an election with finality.
If there had been no Electoral College in 2000, instead of Gore's attorneys demanding selective recounts in only certain counties in Florida, they could have expanded the field of confusion to dozens of counties in all 50 states so that clarity could never be achieved by the Dec. 12 deadline set by the Constitution for states to report the votes of their electors. The authors of the Constitution were wise enough to understand that the Electoral College helps to clarify a definitive final result for the election of a president and vice president. Mr. Gore seems to conveniently forget that a combination of news organizations led by the New York Times conducted their own tally of the Florida vote in 2001 and determined that George W. Bush still carried the state under a range of different criteria.
The question that Al Gore and other critics of the Electoral College never seem to answer is exactly what system they think should replace the college of electors. Do they imagine that 50 states would funnel the tabulation of more than 130 million votes from more than 3,000 counties to some super clerk of elections in Washington, DC? Who would supervise that super clerk and what provisions would be made for a national recount? In short, critics of the Electoral College need to think through exactly what they mean when they say a "popular national vote" should replace a state by state vote determined by the Constitution. The 2012 Republican National Conventon plaform was wise to oppose abolition of the Electoral College by unconstitutional schemes.