There was never an actual need for the Electoral College; it was a means by which the less populous slave states still had a disproportionate say in choosing the President. It's not an accident that twelve of the first fifteen Presidential elections were won by men from southern states.
It should be noted that the U.S. Senate, one of the single most undemocratic elected bodies, was also a result of slave-state demands for more power in the government. California, with 12% of the U.S. population, has only a 2% voice in the Senate. It has more population than Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming combined, yet gets two votes in the Senate to the aforementioned other states' 42.
So, the southern slave states are responsible for having the U.S. Senate, the Electoral College, AND the Second Amendment (originally intended to help southern states quell slave rebellions).
The reason we don't have direct popular elections for President is that too many powerful interests would find themselves with much less power, were they to allow such a democratic reform.