Electoral college system: time for a change?

I was wandereing what people think about this system. Has it run its course and should it be changed to a simple measure of the entire popular vote?

For EC
It allows some issues that would normally be ignored to gain prominence and be heard politically, as well as states that would usually be ignored to gain some political limelight.

Against EC
Promotes policies for special interest, allows candidates to ignore vast swathes of the electorate and go for policies that may well be bad for the nation overall ie protectionism. It can lead to very odd outcomes.

Without the Electorial College the states of California, Illinois, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas would elect the President for the forseeable future to the detriment of the rest of the country. The founding fathers of the electorial system were wise indeed!!!

no, the majority of AMERICANS would elect the president. The founding fathers undertook this ridiculous system only to appease the short-sighted attitudes of a minority.

I might agree to some minor tweaking, but in principle and in practice, the EC is a brilliant system. I trust James Madison’s judgment far more than that of Hilary Clinton.

I have to agree with Shin-Gua. If the states of California, Illinois, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas could elect the President based solely on their majority status, why would any of the other states even agree to remain a part of the Union?

The Electoral College system as utilized by the US imposes two very reasonable requirements on candidates for the presidency:

[b]1) that the winner obtain a sufficient amount of the popular vote to enable him to govern (even when that amount does not constitute an absolute majority), and

  1. that such a popular vote be sufficiently distributed across the country to enable him or her to govern effectively.[/b]

This arrangement ensures a regional balance of support, which is vital in governing a large and diverse nation.

Look, despite colleges and universities around the world offering classes in “political science”, politics is anything but a science, at least in any type of a democracy. Effective politics in any democracy is actually an art, rather than a science… and it is an art which requires the ability to compromise.

If the US were to use a pure democracy and elect presidents based on the majority of the popular vote, why should states such as Alaska or Wyoming remain part of the United States? After all, if presidential elections were decided by simple majority of the popular vote, the populations of a few states (New York and California, for example) would determine who would run our executive and what issues would be important and how those issues would be decided. Why, in such a situation, should the people of Alaska or Wyoming remain states in union with the United States?

The US style of democracy is a representative style (or a republic), and IMO, the primary distinguishing characteristic of the US style of democracy is that it allows generally rule by the majority with protection of the minority, or, stated another way, rule by the majority with the consent of the minority.

A pure democracy would merely permit 51% of the population to oppress the other 49%.

This is the reason that the abolition of the electoral college would require ratification by a certain number of States, and since many States have only several electoral votes, they are not likely to give up the leverage that they do have in dealing with their more populated sister States.

For those that want to get rid of the EC, then perhaps they’d also want to do away with the Senate, which also serves a similar purpose in giving each state two seats no matter the population.

I agree. Why would a state need to be a part of the Union if things like the Senate or EC didn’t exist?

Anyonre remember the Civil War? Not enitrely similar issues, but could make some parallells.

Most of the people I know that support doing away with the EC or other state-equalizing mechanisms have been liberals.

I wonder why? Gee … Let me guess. The liberal coasts deciding all policy for everyone else. Hummmmmm.

It would be beautiful for libs. They’d get everything they ever wanted ram-rodded down others’ throats. It would be like a kid in a candy store … or like Clinton with his pants down.

It would be ethnic cleansing overnight. Hollywood taking over policy.

Sorry, had to make it nasty! This was getting too intellectual for Forumosa. :unamused:

Actually, one more thing.

I have so much respect for the founding fathers (most of them). It was a freak time in world history that we may never see again where people took their selfish interests (like everyone has) and came to the table to create something, not perfect, but wonderfully amazing. If you read a lot from that period, like the Federalist Papers, you’ll really get a sense that today’s politicians don’t even compare. These people didn’t have mass media. They had to really think through their arguments and write them down. There is so much richness in the debate that went on from the time of the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution. It truly was a freak time in history. I often wish I could have discussions with people like Thomas Jefferson … a kind of modern-day Davinci. Yes, they were rich aristocrats. Yes, they had their failings. But they produced results that today we take for GRANTED. The EC is just one of those things that has stood the test of time. And how much of the original federal government by amendment been changed in 230 years. Not much. It really works … “works” meaning if you compare it to the dog-eat-dog world that exists outside America and in thousands of years of human hisotry. America is also taking its experiment to other parts of the world where others are implementing it in their own way.

[quote=“The Magnificent Tigerman”] I trust James Madison’s judgment far more than that of Hilary Clinton.


than who? what? this is not a complicated liberal concept. that is a stupid thing to say tigerman.

you are an american.

i am an american, not a citizen of big nyc or dunghill iowa.

this is 2004, not 1779.

the US is a republic. you are a citizen of your state. as a citizen of your state, mutual rights are extended to you. just like your drivers license- you get it in one state but it is accepted in all of them.

the elctoral college would be fine IF it was still used as it originally was intended. the way it is now in 48 states where the winner takes all is a shame. in a perfect world the electoral votes awarded for each state would be proportionally allotted according to the popular votes cast. let’s say state X has ten electoral votes. today,if one candidate wins 51%-49% he gets all 10 electoral votes. wouldn’t splitting the electoral votes 6-4 (or even 5-5) actually be a truer representation of the popular will of the people?

how a state allots its electoral votes is up to each state. can’t make a federal caxse out of it. the parties have a snug little duopoply on things and like it that way. nader got enough of the popular vote to merit an electoral vote or two in CA last time. can you imagine the ink that would have gotten alternative parties? we’ll have none of that, thank you.


OK, I’ll volunteer to be the wind dummy for this one…

Despite sitting through enough formal education to make a horse puke, I still struggle to understand the need for the electoral college. I fundamentally “don’t get it”. That might be premature Alzheimers (because I’m sure I studied it more than once) or maybe it is just that the distinctions and benefits are really quite ambiguous.

Whether or not we have the EC, the small states are still small. The big states are still big. To one degree or another, both the EC and the popular vote systems are proportional, on a state-by-state basis.

Having said that, on the surface of it, the EC system seems to discount and preempt the largest number of voters.

By EC rules, if I live in a state where 51% of the voters voted for the other guy, my vote immediately becomes invalid. It no longer carries any weight in the on-going contest (election). However, in the popular vote system, I can be in the minority in my state but still have my vote count in the full contest. In that case, if I got to the end of the contest and lost, OK then. That would seem fairer. It would feel like I had had my day in court, so to speak. But with the EC, it seems like the minority (in any given place) gets its feet cut out from under it early on and never has its voice heard beyond the borders of its own state, and that, in a matter that is not limited to one

The EC system works to avoid splitting the government (parties) into many parties which receive no majority of the vote and therefore can only govern by forming alliances and deals with other parties, usually at the expence of the citizens. This is really a parliment representative government. Think UK and Israel. That is why the US political system really only consists of two major parties. The system encourages that. It also gives the small states more of a equal representation with the big states.

EEEEEE forgit it!

the small states benefit more from the “winner take all” allocation of delegates than from the actual electoral vote. because the allocation of delegates is in the hands of the states, most states understandable stick to the “winner take all” system to maximize their influence. if ALL states adopted proportional delegates, than the ec would be pretty meaningless.

heck, even if only the large states adopted proportional delagates, the ec would really lose any differentiation from a direct popular vote.

the ec was never designed to benefit individual voters. it was designed to placate individual states. the reason that the electors cast the actual deciding votes for the winner is because the founding fathers put them in as a check against their worst fears about the excesses of democracy. the supposedly more education electors would be less prone to the scary populist side of democracy…or so the founding fathers thought.

3) The EC system is very much linked to a “state” mentality, i.e. 50 states, each being the primary focus for its citizens. That said, I don’t really think many Americans identify more with their individual states than they do with their country. Is it possible that the anachronistic importance of states for individual citizens is preventing “Americans” from substantially participating in an “American” election?[/quote]

the whole constitution was geared towards a states’ rights mentality, not just the ec. while i can see your argument that it might be time to move beyond that, i don’t think it would be possible to so drastically alter the whole structure of the country. you’d pretty much have to enforce standarization across the whole country and rewrite a huge chunk of the constitution.

I always heard that the electoral college system was created because the founding fathers thought the average citizen too stupid to vote wisely. Just think, if it wasn’t for the electoral college, Gore would be president.

Thus proving that the founding fathers were correct? :wink:

[quote=“Shin-Gua”]The EC system works to avoid splitting the government (parties) into many parties which receive no majority of the vote and therefore can only govern by forming alliances and deals with other parties, usually at the expence of the citizens. This is really a parliment representative government. Think UK and Israel. That is why the US political system really only consists of two major parties. The system encourages that. It also gives the small states more of a equal representation with the big states.

EEEEEE forgit it![/quote]

As if two large parties held hostage to corporate and special interests (read: $$$) monopolizing all of the political power, thus giving individual voters no choice but to hold their nose every election for the lesser of two equally repugnant evils, is any better? The U.S. does not have a representative government responsive to its citizens’ wills. We have two massive and deeply corrupt parties of the plutocracy responsive to whomever can donate the most to their campaign coffers. Considering what we have in the U.S., a multiparty parliamentary system looks VERY attractive. At least then, with multiple parties, everybody will have a party to represent their own personal ideologies on every side of the political spectrum represented in government, and so people can vote how they really feel. There would be a fundamentalist Christian party, a socialist party, a liberal party, a pro-business party, a libertarian party etc., all sharing power - which would truly be representative of most Americans. Instead, we have the choice between two barely distinguishable parties, one center-left, one center-right, both spending all their energy battling for the votes of the center. Not exactly much of a choice. Some fucking democracy.

Hear, hear!

We pretend to vote, they pretend to represent us.

please name 1 party in any country with a multiparty parlimentary system which is NOT held hostage to special interests.

great. so you want MANY parties held hostage by narrowly defined special interests

and there is already a libertarian party. they don’t share power because people don’t agree with their views…

you can choose the libertarian party. the green party also gets some press. why don’t people vote for them? because they disagree with their views. if you want to vote for them, you can. or are you really complaining that american voters don’t support fringe political parties enough?

[color=blue]Here’s what one of the keynote speakers at the Republican National Convention has had to say about the current state of the American government:[/color]

"I believe that there

But is putting higher interests over the voters’ democracy?

What do you mean by “excesses of democracy”?