Is there any good reason to keep the Electoral College in place? Is it a long drawn-out process to make it go away? Is it too late to make a change in time for the 2020 election? —Nixie S.

Your faith in the American polity's lightning-swift ability to correct electoral injustice is touching, Nixie, but perhaps misplaced. To put it another way: 2020? Don't hold your breath for 2032.

The Electoral College has been a thorn in modern Democrats' side for approximately (exactly) 20 years, partly because it always gives outsized influence to voters from small, conservative states and partly because it sometimes keeps the person who got the most votes from actually winning.

If that chaps your vegan-leather hide, wait till you hear why we have the Electoral College in the first place!

Father of the Constitution James Madison felt that the sparsely populated, slave-owning states of the South would never join a Union where they'd always be outvoted by the more populous, abolitionist states of the North.

The Electoral College solved this­ problem. Not only did it give these smaller states extra votes just for being states (as it still does today), it allowed them to include their enslaved residents—who, to put it mildly, couldn't vote—in the population count that determined how many electoral votes they should have.

In essence, the Electoral College was created to reward Southern voters for doing literally the most racist thing a person can possibly do. It's almost like racial bias has been woven into the fabric of American political institutions since the very beginning! I'm surprised no one has said anything.

Anyway, help is on the way—maybe. An interstate initiative called the National Popular Vote Compact aims to defang the Electoral College by having participating states agree to award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of what happens within their borders.

Once 270 votes' worth of states are on board, the theory goes, the winner of the popular vote is guaranteed victory. So far, 16 states, representing 196 electoral votes, have agreed to participate. (Oregon signed on last June.)

Of course, so far they're all Democratic-leaning states—Republicans don't seem to regard the matter with quite the same urgency—but time will tell.

Questions? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com