Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution mandates that the President be elected by means of an electoral college. Each state is allowed a certain number of "electors" (the state's number of Representatives plus its Senators), who then vote for the President. The electors vote based on the state's distribution of the popular vote. Most state constitutions award votes on a winner-take-all basis. For instance, if two-thirds of a state's public vote for a Democrat and the other third votes for a Republican, and the state has 6 electoral votes, then all 6 of that state's votes go to the Democratic candidate.
Similarly, U.S. Senatorial elections were originally conducted exclusively by state legislators. The public directly elected the state legislators, who then directly elected that state's Senators.
The electoral college was initially conceived as an integral part of the U.S. Constitution. Its intentions were to resolve inter-state disputes about power based on geographical and regional differences.
In addition, however, it was blatantly distrustful and alarmingly paternalistic towards the American populace, not to mention being flat-out undemocratic. The electoral college (and Constitutional provisions which prevented direct Senatorial elections), at least in part, was aimed at preventing the general public from having any direct power in Presidential or Senatorial elections, for fear of the "uneducated masses" having any direct political power. The public merely elected delegates to the electoral college, who then proceeded to actually elect the President or Senators.
The Constitution has been amended to allow for the direct elections of Senators. But, to this day, American elections are not truly democratic, for there are no direct Presidential elections.
The electoral college's continued existence has and will continue to have numerous detrimental effects on American politics and government. The first and foremost problem is that it deprives American citizens...