The Electoral College

electoral college

The Rhode Island Secretary of State, Ralph Mollis, recently sent me the cutest email invitation, as follows:

Following the second-highest turnout in state history, our remarkable election year will officially end this Monday when we convene RI’s Electoral College for the purpose of casting votes for president and vice president.




The historic ceremony will begin at noon when the Kentish Guards in colonial military garb will escort the state’s four Presidential Electors and other dignitaries to the House Chamber, where the event will take place.




If you would like to attend the ceremony, please RSVP to because seating in the House Chamber is limited. Capitol TV will also televise the ceremony live on Channel 15 on Cox Cable and Full Channel and Channel 34 on Verizon. In addition, we will set up TV monitors in the State Room to accommodate anyone who cannot be seated in the House Chamber.




State Rep.-elect Marvin L. Abney of Newport, Emily A. Maranjian of Providence, L. Susan Weiner of East Greenwich and Mark S. Weiner of East Greenwich have the honor of representing RI. By federal law, the state Democratic Party got to select the electors because Democrat Barack Obama won Rhode Island’s popular vote.


This is sort of adorable, in the way that the Beefeaters in the Tower of London and the Swiss Guards at the Vatican are adorable. We’re a small state, so we like ceremonies; it’s easy for pretty much anyone in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to attend this, if he/she wants to. Notice the reference to “colonial military garb”: we’re one of the original thirteen colonies, right?

The Electoral College is a charming but unnecessary leftover from the early days of our Republic. But it needs to get lost. We need to elect our President and Vice-President by popular vote, nothing more, nothing less. Our history would be very different if we’d done this; there have been four elections (1824, 1876, 1888, and – surprise! 2000) when the popular vote went against the electoral vote.

There is an initiative running around among the states: the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. In brief: states are declaring that they will give all their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote (so long as enough other states sign onto the compact).

Sadly, the only states to sign onto this compact so far are progressive/liberal states in the Northeast and West.

The red states seem suspicious of this initiative. I’m not sure why.

Maybe they just love their Kentish Guards.

Kids: time to put away childish things. Let’s get rid of this relic, the Electoral College, once and for all.

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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