Unpopularly Elected
August 18, 1952 — U.S. Editorial

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | January 5, 2017                     

Showing how long Americans have questioned the “ancient” and confusing Electoral College system, this non-syndicated editorial ran in numerous newspapers between around Aug. 18 and Sept. 16, 1952.

At the time, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson were the nominees in the 1953 Presidential race. Gen. Eisenhower won both the popular and electoral vote decisively.

It would be another 47 years before the U.S. election was actually determined by the Electoral College (George W. Bush in 2000), and again in 2016, with the election of Donald J. Trump (who was against it before he was for it).

"The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy." — Nov. 6, 2012 tweet by Donald Trump

United States media archive

Why Do We Call It Electoral ‘College’?

In all the political discussions these days, the “Electoral College” is constantly mentioned.

The word “college” conjures up, or should conjure up, the concept of a group meeting together like the faculty of a university, or the College of Cardinals that chooses a new Pope, or the caucus or conference of party members in Congress or the House of Commons.

As a matter of fact, the presidential electors from the several states never meet together officially. The late President Roosevelt did bring them together for a social gathering, but that was after they had elected the President. [Franklin Delano Roosevelt]

The Constitution directs that the electors shall meet in their respective states and there vote for President and Vice President, sending their ballots to the presiding officer of the Senate. The original intent was that they should first discuss and deliberate, so that in this sense there was to have been something like an electoral “college” in each of the states.

Now, however, the electors in each state merely vote as directed by a majority or plurality of the voters in that state. In almost all the states the voters now choose directly as among the presidential candidates, rather than among the candidates for electors. The electors thus are in effect rubber stamps for the voters. They certainly are not collectively anything like a “college.”

And a movement now is underway to reorganize the presidential election system and to do away with the ancient college.

Newspapers who ran this editorial under their masthead included:

The Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, Texas) — Aug. 18, 1952 (Why Electoral ‘College’?) (lead ed.)
The Daily Sun (San Bernardino, California) — Aug. 20, 1952 (The Electoral College)
The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois) — Aug. 22, 1952 (Why Do We Call It Electoral ‘College’?)
The News-Review (Roseburg, Oregon) — Sept. 2, 1952 (WHY CALL IT ELECTORAL “COLLEGE?”)
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, Florida) — Sept. 16, 1952 (Why Electoral “College”?)

In addition to title differences, most papers ran shorter versions, lopping off entire sentences. The last sentence, for example, was missing in most versions.

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Related links:

Election In Iran | August 12, 1953 editorial

Many Things Contribute To Mistrust of Truman | The Chester Times, July 17, 1951

No Time For Comedy | The Times Record, September 10, 1952

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