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Electoral College

  1. Jan 23, 2005 #1
    The framers of the U.S. Constitution created the Electoral College as a result of a compromise for the presidential election process. During the debate, some delegates felt that a direct popular election would lead to the election of each state's favorite son and none would emerge with sufficient popular majority to govern the country. Other delegates felt that giving Congress the power to select the president would deny the people their right to choose. After all, the people voted for their representatives to the federal legislature. The compromise was to set up an Electoral College system that allowed voters to vote for electors, who would then cast their votes for candidates, a system described in Article II, section 1 of the Constitution.

    Each State is allocated a number of Electors equal to the number of its U.S. Senators (always 2) plus the number of its U.S. Representatives (which may change each decade according to the size of each State's population as determined in the Census).

    Whichever party slate wins the most popular votes in the State becomes that State's Electors-so that, in effect, whichever presidential ticket gets the most popular votes in a State wins all the Electors of that State.

    The debate has started again as to whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended in order to change the presidential election process. Some promote eliminating the Electoral College in favor of a direct popular vote for president while others believe the Electoral College should remain unchanged. Just as compromise solved the initial problems of the framers so it is that compromise can solve this problem. The solution is to change the electoral votes to electoral points and reward each candidate a percentage of points based on the percentage of popular votes received in each state. This would eliminate the "winner take all" system thus allowing for all the votes to count. A voter is more apt to believe their vote counted when a percentage of popular votes are taken into account rather than the "all or nothing" system currently in existence. Further, this new system would integrate the desire for a popular vote for president with the need for the individual states to determine who actually gets elected. For example, in Alabama, President Bush won 63% of the popular vote and therefore would be awarded 5.67 electoral points as compared to Senator Kerry with 37% of the popular vote and 3.33 electoral points. In the event of a tie, the national popular vote results would decide the outcome.

    If one tabulated the final totals from Election 2004, they would find Bush with 274.92 electoral points versus Kerry with 257.71. The existing electoral college votes shows Bush 286 to Kerry 252. I believe this compromise would reflect a truer intent of the will of the people as exercised through their states. This would also prevent the smaller "red" and "blue" states from being virtually ignored in favor of the larger "battleground" states.
     
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  3. Jan 23, 2005 #2
    Not a bad idea at all....all the states get to keep their electoral points but now they do not all have to go to just one man.

    Whenever I hear people talking about making the election process a popular vote only I get freaked out. If that ever happened then my state would end up a dumping ground for the waste of the rest of the country. After all why should the president care about a state with such a tiny population? Even now it is hard for my small state of South Dakota to have much of a voice but if was a strictly popular vote we would have no voice at all. By the way my state's population is all of about 635K. I think we have more deer than people here, lol.

    Regards
     
  4. Jan 23, 2005 #3
    I personally have to disagree with this. Think about it like this, how many electoral votes do the top 11 populated states have?

    California - 55
    Texas - 34
    New York - 31
    Florida - 27
    Illinois - 21
    Pennsylvania - 21
    Ohio - 20
    Michigan - 17
    Georgia - 15
    New Jersey - 15
    North Carolina - 15

    271 right there. 270 needed to win. Pretty much every other state, all 39 of them, could be useless because of the current system. What is the population of these 11 highest states, I am too lazy to find out, so I will estimate it at roughly 55% of the total US population. So, if a presidential candidate were to win each of these 11 states by less than 1% he would have roughly 27% of the popular vote of the total US. Then if the other candidate were to win the other 39 states by a huge margin he would fall short, even though he could have had 73% of the popular vote of the total US. Will this ever happen? It is highly unlikely, but it has, of course, happened before, gore 2000, but by a considerably smaller margin. Because of this I do not think a popular vote would be any worse than the current electoral system. Also, we could get rid of those bums who vote for us. The electorates, why do we need these bums to vote for us?

    edit.. hmm while I was looking to see how many votes were required to win, second guessing my 270 guess, I saw this on wikipedia.

    "Squeezing a direct popular election out of the current system

    A popular election could occur without amending the constitution. If a sufficient number of states chose their electors by national popular vote rather than state popular vote, then a national popular vote would occur in practice. For example, the eleven largest states, controlling over 270 electoral votes among them, could guarantee that the presidency always goes to the winner of the national popular vote, merely by changing state election law. Constitutional objections to a state choosing its electors by national popular vote include that doing so would create an interstate compact without the consent of Congress (which is unconstitutional) and that no state may allow other states to choose its electors."

    source: wikipedia

    also, same source btw... "a candidate could win the election by receiving only 23% of all popular votes, if these were distributed in an (for him/her) ideal way -- i.e. if he won enough small states by the narrowest possible margin and got no votes at all in the larger states."
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2005
  5. Jan 24, 2005 #4

    russ_watters

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    If electoral votes were directly linked to the popular vote, what would be the purpose in having the electoral college? It would be redundant.
     
  6. Jan 24, 2005 #5

    selfAdjoint

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    The EC could be fixed by removing the limitation on the number of Representatives, only for voting purposes. In other words let the number of electors be 3 plus a number proportional to population, which was approximately what it originally was. Wyoming would still get its three, but New York and California would get more than they do now. Thinly populated states can't really complain that it's unfair, since it approxiamates the situation that prevailed until Congress set a cap on the number of Representatives.
     
  7. Jan 24, 2005 #6

    russ_watters

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    Ahh - I forgot that the number of electors wasn't exactly proportional to the population. Duh, thanks.
     
  8. Jan 24, 2005 #7
    Well, I dislike the EC. Living in a highly Red state, I know that who I vote on for President has *NO* effect whatsoever on the outcome. I find that to be very frustrating and I suspect it's one of the reasons we have low voter turn-out. I would also like to see a popular vote because it would force the politicians to 'spread the love around.' No longer could the Democrat ignore the South or the Republican ignore New England because they're 'lost already.'

    That said, the EC does have some usefulness. Imagine a popular election where the margin was only a few thousand votes. You'd have the 2000 election debacle, except that instead of being limited to Florida, it would happen in every single state. I think we'd be lucky to get a President before Inauguration Day.
     
  9. Jan 24, 2005 #8

    selfAdjoint

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    In a red (aka thinly populated) state you should be in favor of the EC; it amplifies whatever votes you have there. And you never know, your state could be the one, like Ohio in 2004 and Florida in 2000 that it all comes down to.
     
  10. Jan 24, 2005 #9
    responses

    some good points...the electoral points would make the red/blue states more up for grabs...
     
  11. Jan 26, 2005 #10
    Personally I think if we have the ability to count individual votes accurately, then the electoral college should be dropped. This will increase value of a vote and should drive more people to the voting polls. As it stands more people voted for American Idol last summer than the election in November (yikes! -- okay maybe some duplication there).

    Many states are usually assumed to be pre-determined as a Democratic or a Republican state. The voters within these state may feel that their vote is either unnecessary ( already a Democratic state so why vote if you're a democrat) or will feel their vote will be eliminated because they are Republican in a Democrat state.

    I live in California and most people I spoke to who did not vote said one or the other. I was surprised that even in such a close election as this, voters didn't feel compelled to vote. Some Democrats in California felt they didn't need to because the electoral votes will go to the Democrats anyway and they were right. Imagine what the popular vote would have been if more voters felt the value of their vote actually counted for something than just winning the number of electoral votes for the state.

    I think there would be very different election results in popular vote system, plus this allows for multiple parties to be recognize, although I feel it will be a long time before the US will accept a third, fourth or fifth party president.
     
  12. Jan 27, 2005 #11
    But why should I care how much it's amplified if what *I* vote for doesn't count? Thanks to the magnificent polling data we have, I knew before I ever set foot in an election booth that my state favored GWBush 60-to-40. The difference between me voting for Bush or Kerry meant the state was 60.0001-to-39.9999 or 59.9999-to-40.0001. In either case, George W. got all 9 of my state's electoral votes. I don't see how math like that is going to inspire me to go vote.
     
  13. Jan 27, 2005 #12

    Curious3141

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    Of course you should move to a popular vote ! You have the infrastructure to do it and it's a fair system. One person, one vote.

    Please, no more of these "battleground state" recounting debacles televised throughout the world.
     
  14. Jan 27, 2005 #13
    obviously the rest of the world supports the popular vote, but it's almost impossible for changes like this to be made because the red states don't want it, and if the democrats have enough power to do it they'll be in power so the system will be favouring them and they won't want to change it.
     
  15. Jan 27, 2005 #14
    ONE PERSON ONE VOTE
    the electoral college is a bad system that needs to be added to the junk heap
     
  16. Jan 27, 2005 #15

    russ_watters

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    As I asked in a previous thread: should we also disband the Senate?
     
  17. Jan 27, 2005 #16
    I don't see why you would need to disband the senate, what are you getting at? every "democracy" has a senate.
     
  18. Jan 27, 2005 #17

    russ_watters

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    The Senate has two representatives for every state. It is not proportional to population and is biased in the same way the electoral college is biased - just worse.
     
  19. Jan 27, 2005 #18

    selfAdjoint

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    We are a federal republic of states. The Senate represents the states, each state getting an equal number; this is just. That is no reason for the president to be elected by a biased vote system. That was never a true part of federalism, but just an expedient compromise to get the Constitution ratified.
     
  20. Jan 27, 2005 #19

    russ_watters

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    If the selection of the legislative branch is mixed in that way, why shouldn't the selection of the executive branch be? "Expedient compromise" -- it was The Great Compromise, and the Electoral College is based on that same principle that resulted in the creation of the Senate.

    History: http://www.fec.gov/pdf/eleccoll.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2005
  21. Jan 27, 2005 #20
    Is the congress proportional then? I didn't know this, the Canadian Senate is proportional to population I believe.
    I don't fully comprehend how the legistative branch works but if the congress is proportional and the senate is equal for every state I don't see any reason to change it.
     
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