I am honored that my fellow North Dakotans selected me to serve as an elector for president. This presents an opportunity to refresh our understanding of the function of the Electoral College.

In 1787 at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, delegates created a Republic deriving its authority from "the consent of the governed." The legislative branch is elected by the people and its powers are limited by the Constitution to certain powers specifically enumerated in Article I, Section 8.

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How to choose the president, however, was "the most difficult (issue) ... we had to decide," said delegate James Wilson. Delegates desired that "every obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue and corruption."

While wanting the people to participate in the president's selection, delegates chose not to commit the election directly to either the general populace or any pre-established legislative body.

Instead, they entrusted selection to "a small number of persons, selected by their fellow citizens ... (who) possess the information and discernment necessary," as Alexander Hamilton described.

They created the Electoral College, a special body of electors equal to the number of members of Congress, chosen by the people and charged with the one-time duty of electing a president, each in his own state to avoid the "tumult and disorder" of a national meeting, after which the college adjourns forever.

This system protects the minority rights of smaller states such as North Dakota with only three electoral votes. A sufficient number must concur with large population states to deliver 270 electoral votes, thereby ensuring national consensus.

I recommend reading Hamilton's Essay 68 in the Federalist Papers for a more complete explanation. As Hamilton put it, if the system "be not perfect, at least it is excellent."

Duane Mutch

Larimore, N.D.

Mutch, a Republican, represented District 19 in the North Dakota Senate from 1959-76 and from 1979-2006.