52
   

Let's get rid of the Electoral College

 
 
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 05:21 pm
Flunking the Electoral College

Quote:
There is no reason to feel sentimental about the Electoral College. One of the main reasons the founders created it was slavery. The southern states liked the fact that their slaves, who would be excluded from a direct vote, would be counted " as three-fifths of a white person " when Electoral College votes were apportioned.

The founders also were concerned, in the day of the wooden printing press, that voters would not have enough information to choose among presidential candidates. It was believed that it would be easier for them to vote for local officials, whom they knew more about, to be electors. It is hard to imagine that significant numbers of voters thought they did not know enough about Barack Obama and John McCain by Election Day this year.

And, while these reasons for the Electoral College have lost all relevance, its disadvantages loom ever larger. To start, the system excludes many voters from a meaningful role in presidential elections. If you live in New York or Texas, for example, it is generally a foregone conclusion which party will win your state’s electoral votes, so your vote has less meaning " and it can feel especially meaningless if you vote on the losing side. On the other hand, if you live in Florida or Ohio, where the outcome is less clear, your vote has a greatly magnified importance.

Voters in small states are favored because Electoral College votes are based on the number of senators and representatives a state has. Wyoming’s roughly 500,000 people get three electoral votes. California, which has about 70 times Wyoming’s population, gets only 55 electoral votes.

The Electoral College also makes America seem more divided along blue-red lines than it actually is. If you look at an Electoral College map, California appears solidly blue and Alabama solidly red. But if you look at a map of the popular votes, you see a more nuanced picture. More than 4.5 million Californians voted for Mr. McCain (roughly as many votes as he got in Texas), while about 40 percent of voters in Alabama cast a ballot for Mr. Obama.

One of the biggest problems with the Electoral College, of course, is that three times since the Civil War " most recently, with George W. Bush in 2000 " it has awarded the presidency to the loser of the popular vote. The president should be the candidate who wins the votes of the most Americans.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 52 • Views: 66,605 • Replies: 717

 
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 05:24 pm
Oh jesus . . . here we go again . . .

I disagree completely.
djjd62
 
  3  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 05:28 pm
who will train the electricians
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 06:20 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

Oh jesus . . . here we go again . . .

I disagree completely.


How come?

(Not being able to make sense of the electoral college through ignorance this is a real question...only could you make the answer succinct???? I have to go out soon. ; ) )
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 07:22 pm
@dlowan,
I could stand the loss of the Electoral College, but only if we keep the present scheme of allocation of Representatives and Senators, and presidental votes based on representation. It's just not in my interest to have the national government dependent on New York and California. As for having electors sitting around deciding if my vote means what it says, the time for that has past, if there ever was such a time.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 07:27 pm
@roger,
I suppose I am at the opposite stance of Roger - I'd like each person's vote to be equal. I've never understood the electoral college. The famous mob fear, oh.

No, that's not true, I have understood it for moments at a time, but I apparently don't get it internally - why, because I have lived in cities, my votes have mattered fractionally less than others in well spaced places, all my life.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 07:31 pm
@ossobuco,
Suppose for a second that urban areas took over the vote. Well, then, they'd still need to eat. And maybe they'd work out some system where some individual farmer could grow heritage vegetables on some plots. I'm no fan of the current agriculture fist.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 07:34 pm
@roger,
Oh..so it's kind of there to achieve what Oz used to achieve by having rural seats with only a small number of electors so that the city vote didn't have as much influence?

I mean we still do, but less so.

ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 07:38 pm
@dlowan,
Yes, multiplied.
0 Replies
 
2PacksAday
 
  2  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 08:55 pm
The term "flyover states" would no longer serve a purpose, since I doubt they would feel a need to mention us at all.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:00 pm
@dlowan,
Right. Each state has two senators, and at least one representative. Additional representatives are based on relative population. So, each state is guaranteed at least three electoral votes.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  2  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:02 pm
Whether we elect a President by popular votes, or the Electoral College, there is a downside, I believe, which is that countries with large populations that would like to join the Union, might not be admitted, since their large population could then sway an election, just by that one state's population. So, if we are ever going to have a 51st state, perhaps, we should just have each state, regardless of population just have one electoral vote. In other words, I do not see a need to have a future state first be a "territory." Why not a country that just wants to join the Union?
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:24 pm
@Foofie,
One vote per state. Now, that would put California at the absolute mercy of New Mexico. I doubt they'd go for it.
Foofie
 
  2  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:33 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:

One vote per state. Now, that would put California at the absolute mercy of New Mexico. I doubt they'd go for it.


I would agree with you; however, for the future strength of the Union, additional states beyond the continental U.S. is really what we need. Then we do not have to think we are antagonizing any other countries, if we put military equipment in some ally's country. We would have territory enough all over the globe to do that.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 10:52 pm
@roger,
I, in turn, could stand the Electoral College if we could get rid of the disproportionate representation.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 11:48 pm
@dlowan,
The Cunning Coney wrote:
How come?

(Not being able to make sense of the electoral college through ignorance this is a real question...only could you make the answer succinct???? I have to go out soon. ; ) )


Since I don't know your clock, i don't know if i'm answering in time for you, but you can read this any time.

Roger, in his response immediately after yours, partially answers. Without the Electoral college, you could just count out everyone but California the belt of cities running from Boston to D.C. and from Chicago east to New York. Farmers, ranchers, miners and everyone else in the Midwest and the West (other than California) could kiss their franchise goodbye.

I also object because the Electoral College was a part of the sovereignty compromise, part of the mechanism--along with the creation of a Senate--which reconciled "small states" (small in population, lead in 1787 by New York and New Jersey, ironically) that they would not be swallowed by the then "unholy" triumvirate of Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, which between them had about two-thirds of the country's population.

I also object because the author of the piece which CdK quoted trots out a bullshit old chestnut at the very beginning of the article, to the effect that the Electoral College was a means of enshrining slavery. The author is historically ignorant, and confuses cause and effect, and the principle of unintended consequences. The Three-Fifths compromise, to which the writer refers (with 60% of the slave population being counter for purposes of determining Congressional districts and representation) was one of the last measures taken by the convention. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney South Carolina threatened that the constitution would not be ratified by the slave-holding states (slaves were held in every state at the time, but the northern states would soon adopt varying degrees of restrictions on slavery, and many northern citizens were publicly and vocally opposed), unless concession was made for the slaves states. Surprisingly, he was supported by Rufus King of Massachusetts, who happened at that time to be a delegate to the convention from Pennsylvania, and who therefore spoke (inferentially) for the second and third most populous states (Virginia was the most populous, and a slave state). King was being a pragmatist, and many northerners agreed with him that some compromise was necessary to get the slave states on board, and that a flawed union were better than no union at all. This was further modified when two of the "scholars" of the convention, James Wilson of Pennsylvania (a Scots Presbyterian born in Scotland) and Roger Sherman of Connecticut proposed counting three-fifths of the slave population. Southerns had said that all slaves should be counted (although, of course, they wouldn't vote), and northern states were not prepared to go along with that. Wilson and Sherman were extremely well-informed and careful scholars of law and the history of law, and like Rufus King, felt that a compromise which would keep the southern states in a union was preferrable to no union. The three-fifths compromise was one of the last acts of the convention, and the sovereignty compromises of the Senate and the Electoral College had already been determined upon prior to the three-fifths compromise, and without reference to it.

His second chestnut is that which claims the Electoral College was conceived as a bulwark against the ignorance of the electorate. Although there may be elitists who thought that way, the principle concern of the men meeting at the convention was the unweildy nature of elections at that time, but most importantly, the insistence of small population states that they not be overwhelmed by the mere numbers of the populous states. The second clause of Article 2, Section 1 reads:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Each state then and today can choose how to allocate electors, and even how they are chose within the state (there would be quite a howl, though, if it did not follow the popular vote, and it would be worth their jobs for state legislators to attempt to take it out of the hands of the electors). Some states (or at least one, Colorado) allocate the Electoral College votes according to the popular vote, with the two votes equivalent to the Senators going to the candidate who polls the most votes. The problem which maddens most contemporary American commentators is the "winner take all" nature of the system as it now stands. That is a product of the post-Civil War politics of the Republican and Democratic parties, the only two survivors of the war (four candidates ran for President in 1860), which warily circled one another looking for advantage, but which both agreed that it were best not to have any other competition. A winner take all system for Electoral College votes was agreed upon between them in the latter part of the 19th century, and passed by the state legislatures, all of which were in the control of one or the other of the two parties.

So i object on the basis of the editorialist's argument being based on popular (popular in the late 20th and early 21st centuries) historical myth, and the blatant attempt to tie the Electoral College at the outset to slavery, in a pathetic attempt to beg the question by discrediting the institution by means of guilt by association. Besides being about a measure of which i don't approve, the editorial was a piece of journalist hogwash.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 11:51 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Personally, the disproportionate representation is the one thing that makes me say we should keep it. I simply suggest that we get rid of one of the principle props of the stranglehold of the two party system by eliminating the winner take all nature of the allocation of electoral votes.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 11:57 pm
In case it's not clear, Miss Wabbit, the second clause of Article Two, Section 1 clearly leaves the choice of electors to the power of the states--it is not dictated by the constitution.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 12:02 am
Tell me again, simply, why one person, one vote, is somehow wrong.



I sort of get it, but I also somehow don't.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 12:07 am
@Setanta,
I'd be happy to see winner-take-all done away with, but don't see any convincing example of why the disproportionate representation is itself helpful for electing a president.

So far, the few times the disproportionate representation has overridden the popular vote don't serve as great examples of why it's necessary either, the will of the people was right (by their own later reasoning at least) in 2000, and the disproportionate representation wrong.
 

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