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Dissolve Electoral College

 
 
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2003 09:00 pm
Do you think it will be better if we dissolve the Electoral College and run the presidential election based on popular vote? Whoever gets the most votes wins.

I posted this under general a few days ago. I was thinking maybe I'll get more opinion from this question under politics
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 7,068 • Replies: 70
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Eastree
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 08:28 am
It's a tough question. Not everyone is very politically minded. For example, I have seen small groups of people demanding that everyone they know should vote for a certain person based on one issue, even though they disagree with much of what the candidate stands for. Also, there are people who will vote for the name they think sounds better or the more prisidential-looking person. For reasons like these, there is a lot of support for the Electoral College. But for those who actually pay attention to events, political stands a candidate makes, and what matters to them (and thankfully that number is growing), there are simply too many knowledgable voters to have an Electoral college -- especially with the rising accuracy of technology to instantly count the votes. To me, it's all a matter of which side of the two -- knowledgable and not -- would play a larger role in the results. So, for not answering your question I apologize. I just see how it can be supported either way. But in my honest opinion, the Electoral College should be eliminated. Whoever is voted into office will be the punishment this nation deserves.
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PDiddie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 10:23 am
Hi, Ricardo and Eastree; welcome to A2K.

The Electoral College is an anachronism in terms of how our Republic has evolved; unfortunately it is one of which we will not easily be rid.

It was designed by the Framers to protect the smaller states from the 'tyranny of the majority' of the larger ones; and in theory should necessitate that Presidential aspirants spend as much time courting the votes of Iowans and New Hampshirites as those of the residents of New York, California, Texas and Florida. (Only two of those states existed in the late 18th century, but you get the idea.)

A noble goal, but as we saw three years ago, one that has the potential of thwarting the will of the majority of voters; not exactly a democratic ideal. (That scenario--that the candidate who got the most votes lost the Presidency, due to the winner-take-all nature of the Electoral vote--has actually happened three other times in the course of this country's history, though the occurence previous to 2000 was over 100 years ago.)

There are a couple of other salient points relative to the application of the Electoral College in Presidential contests in the modern day:

--California, as example, accounts for about 11% of the U.S. population, yet has 20% of the electoral votes needed to win.
--While extremely rare, an elector can be "unfaithful" and vote for someone other than the candidate for whom his state has voted, circumventing completely the will of the voters.
--With the exception of two states, the EC is winner-take-all (whoever wins the state's popular vote wins all the electoral votes). This turns the goal of the EC on its head, but mostly only in theory: a candidate could concentrate his (or her) efforts on a few large states while ignoring the rest of the nation. For instance, one need only win the following states to win the election: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina and either Georgia or Virginia.
--The current system severely handicaps (and, truth to tell, institutionally prohibits) the chances of a third-party candidate winning an election; thus the two major parties are disinclined to revise it.

There have been Constitutional amendments proposed to eliminate the EC throughout history--Thomas Jefferson himself called it "the most dangerous blot on our Constitution"--but none has ever gone anywhere. The enactment of such an amendment requires a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress and ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states (38 of the 50). Probably at least 13 or 14 of the states (the largest and the smallest) feel that the Electoral College benefits them and thus would oppose a move to end it.

Most of the time--the vast majority of the time--our election process functions exactly as the Founding Fathers intended. We ought to happy about that, all deleterious possibilities and outcomes considered.
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Eastree
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2003 10:37 am
wow -- thata a lot! ill have to read it later. (anything in the political or social sciences is far from my higher aptitudes.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2003 08:43 am
PDiddie wrote:
It was designed by the Framers to protect the smaller states from the 'tyranny of the majority' of the larger ones...

To a certain extent, that's true. But the electoral college, as originally envisioned by the framers of the constitution (not the one we have now, which is the product of the 12th Amendment) was designed more as a means of insulating the office of the presidency from the "tyranny of the majority," not the small states.

PDiddie wrote:
A noble goal, but as we saw three years ago, one that has the potential of thwarting the will of the majority of voters; not exactly a democratic ideal.

There are many anti-democratic aspects of the American system. The electoral college is just one.

PDiddie wrote:
(That scenario--that the candidate who got the most votes lost the Presidency, due to the winner-take-all nature of the Electoral vote--has actually happened three other times in the course of this country's history, though the occurence previous to 2000 was over 100 years ago.)

You're probably referring to the 1824, 1876, and 1888 elections. It's difficult, however, to trust vote returns from the 19th century, so we'll never really know if, for instance, Harrison or Cleveland won the popular vote total in 1888 (or in 1892, for that matter).

PDiddie wrote:
--California, as example, accounts for about 11% of the U.S. population, yet has 20% of the electoral votes needed to win.

Nice bit of statistical sleight of hand there, PDiddie. If California has 20% of the electoral votes needed to win, then it has approximately 10% of the total number of electoral votes. As such, California (and all large states) are under-represented in the electoral college.

PDiddie wrote:
--While extremely rare, an elector can be "unfaithful" and vote for someone other than the candidate for whom his state has voted, circumventing completely the will of the voters.

This is a genuine problem, but there are ways to ensure the fidelity of electors short of a constitutional amendment.

PDiddie wrote:
--The current system severely handicaps (and, truth to tell, institutionally prohibits) the chances of a third-party candidate winning an election; thus the two major parties are disinclined to revise it.

That is absolutely correct, and it's one thing to keep in mind when considering the elimination of the electoral college. The two-party system in America really rests on three foundations: single-member congressional districts; the unitary office of the presidency; and the electoral college. Take any one of those away and it might destroy the two-party system. Now, of course, many people would consider that a good thing: I take no position.

PDiddie wrote:
Most of the time--the vast majority of the time--our election process functions exactly as the Founding Fathers intended. We ought to happy about that, all deleterious possibilities and outcomes considered.

Quite right.
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Eastree
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2003 09:20 am
Geez! Someone has done their homework! Of course at the same time, you have to consider the fact that there are many people in the US (like several people I know) who don't pay much attention to the issues, and vote blindly based only on rumor or a friend's opinion. I'm not trying to say it's not their right to vote however they want, but what about these basically vlind votes? (I'm not tryingto counter anything -- I'm far from politically minded and I just want to hear opinions)
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RicardoTizon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2003 08:27 pm
So tell me in your opinion keep it or dissolve it?
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2003 08:33 pm
Dissolve it. It gives inordinate power to the least socially progressive demagogues.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2003 08:37 pm
Keep it. Better the demagogues you know than the ones you don't. Wink
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2003 08:41 pm
In this case we know both and the ones who hail from the most backward regions sometimes get the advantage of having the more advanced regions' votes count for less.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2003 06:57 am
Craven de Kere wrote:
In this case we know both and the ones who hail from the most backward regions sometimes get the advantage of having the more advanced regions' votes count for less.


Whoa. Hold on there.

You'll note the neither Rhode Island nor Deleware have have anywhere near the types or size of problems that New York and CA have but they both fall into your "backward" group.

What is "backward" and what is "advanced" is in the eye of the beholder - and I most certianly wouldn't put CA as "advanced" in ANY category.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2003 06:59 am
I agree that what is considered backward is in the eye of the beholder.

My opinion remains that the EC gives advantage to the areas I consider backwards.

BTW, I disagree that YOU would not rate California as advanced in ANY category. ;-)
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2003 07:07 am
A disgusting, elitist view, IMO.
And, exactly why we need the EC. Enhanced or protected equality--48 states, not being ruled by two...and a handful of cities.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2003 07:13 am
If that's elitist then anyone who has an opinion is elitist.

What you call equality here I call the anti-thesis to equality. Equality would be one man one vote. Not artificially inflating the importance of rural voters.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2003 07:16 am
Craven de Kere wrote:
BTW, I disagree that YOU would not rate California as advanced in ANY category. ;-)


Yeah, ok.. You're right. I'd put it right up there at the top as one of the most advanced cesspools in the country! Wink

(Although I do fully admit that my "view" of CA is based on the time I spent in/around LA. There may be some redeeming parts of the state but I never saw them..)
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2003 07:21 am
LA is a sick city. Monterey Bay is nice, S.F. can be tolerated in terms of hours.

I am not a fan of CA but there are many areas in which it's development is more advanced than elsewhere.

Silicon Valley is a wee bit more technologically advanced than the rural farmlands.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2003 07:22 am
Normally, I'd agree with the one man-one vote. That seems to me to be equality in its purest form...

But states have widely varying needs and issues. If, say, the most populated states are more tech oriented, or have other distinct issues they vote to effect--and other, less-populated states have diametrically opposed issues--and by sheer numbers are left without a voice in national politics--anarchy and a sub-group emerges-- States would not remain loyal to the union for long. I believe the framers were brilliant to place the EC in position--to give states a voice that would be heard nationally--thus, protecting the union.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2003 07:23 am
The Union is no longer in any danger.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2003 07:26 am
I believe if for the last 200 years, CA and NY ran this country to the displeasure and disenfranchisement of the rest of us, it would be!
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2003 07:29 am
I think every nation on earth is run to the displeasure of their majority. I also do not think dissolving the EC would make as apocalyptic of a difference.
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