Government by the People

MANY AMERICANS THINK THEIR PRESIDENT IS ELECTED BY MAJORITY RULE, but in actuality, the Electoral College—the mechanism by which the president is formally elected—is decidedly not a one-person-one-vote system. In fact, two of the last five presidential elections have been won by the candidate who lost the popular vote, making voting Americans feel increasingly disenfranchised. This often-criticized system comes under renewed fire by New York Times editorial board member Jesse Wegman in this excerpt from his new book, Let the People Pick the President, in which he proposes an alternative that would make every citizen’s vote matter—an ever-more important issue as we approach the 2020 presidential election.

Our nation was conceived out of the audacious, world-changing idea of universal human equality. And though it was born in a snarl of prejudice, mistrust and exclusion, over generations those principles—slowly but surely—have found expression.

This evolution has brought us to a point at which all Americans now carry around the basic expectations of people living in any modern democracy: we are political equals, and our elections are decided by majority

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