A Failing College MAG

February 28, 2011
By xNicolettex GOLD, Hewitt, New Jersey
xNicolettex GOLD, Hewitt, New Jersey
16 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Fall down seven times, stand up eight."

Created officially on September 6, 1787, during the Philadelphia Convention, the electoral college consists of popularly elected representatives (electors) from all states who come together every four years to formally elect the president and vice president of the United States. Each state was assigned a number of electors based on the combined total of senators and representatives. Electors' responsibility is to dutifully represent the choice of their citizens, based on the popular vote. The system is all-or-nothing, so all of a state's votes go to the candidate who wins a majority of electoral votes in that state. The electoral college was created based on the Constitution's framers' assumption that citizens are unfit to solely elect the country's president. But because voters are represented only by the electors, the electoral college is a perfect example of an indirect election, which makes it a topic of controversy.

The electoral college serves to give states a more equal say. Two hundred years ago, small states feared that large states with large populations would have unfair power in the federal government. Using a system of electoral votes and electors, in simple terms, takes this power from larger states. For example, consider California. With 55 votes, it seems to be the most influential state in the electoral college; therefore, it is important to presidential candidates. Compared to California, sparsely populated states such as North Dakota shouldn't stand a chance of attracting attention in an election year. But though California has 55 times the population of North Dakota, it only has 18 times the number of electors, which reduces its clout. Through this system, one North Dakota citizen is worth three Californians. Because of this, the electoral college favors small states and creates an unfair voter-to-electoral-vote ratio.

The first three words of the ­Declaration of Independence are “We the People.” By electing a president indirectly through elector votes and not by the majority of popular votes – which could be 51 percent or 90 percent, but would still result in all the electoral votes for the state – the votes of a vast swath of citizens (especially in heavily populated areas) are basically discarded. It is shocking that the government possesses the audacity to state “every vote counts” when countless citizens' votes equate to nothing.

This issue was never more apparent than in the 2000 presidential election, the closest and most contested since the establishment of the electoral college. The citizens' choice – Democratic nominee Al Gore – was not elected, as he did not receive the majority of electoral votes. Instead, Republican nominee George W. Bush won by four electoral votes, despite receiving 337,576 fewer popular votes than Gore. The controversy of these results lies not in Bush's slim margin of victory, but instead in the statement that election made about the power of the electoral college to oppose the will of the people. The results were challenged and the Supreme Court was called upon to settle the issue definitively. The court's eventual ruling, in favor of Bush, further ignored the say of the country as well as the democratic institution it was founded upon.

The electoral college was created during a time when it was too complicated to travel throughout every state to count each citizen's vote. Now we have the technology to securely cast and count every vote. The electoral college grants unfair power to small states and invalidates millions of citizens' votes. This may have been the best method when it was created, but today it is outdated. I believe we should abolish the electoral college in favor of more direct ways to represent the will of the American people.

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This article has 5 comments.

Elector said...
on Sep. 27 2012 at 9:23 am
The electors from now on have the obligation to se that the Supreme court rules on eligibility of candidates. Most agree that a natural born citizen is born of two citizen parents. Those who support Obama claim otherwise although they are in the minority. I am an elector from Minnesota and there are numerous electors from many parties who now see and understand this problem.  

on Sep. 6 2012 at 6:07 pm
Imaginedangerous PLATINUM, Riverton, Utah
31 articles 0 photos 404 comments
It doens't imbalance the election in favor of small states as much as it does in favor of states that are equally divided between Republicans/Democrats. If you think a North Dakotan is worth more than a Californian, someone from Florida is worth more than the both of them put together and then some. Because of the Electoral College, being a Democrat in Utah or a Republican in New York effectively means that you have no voice at all. It's time we updated our elections and actually made them fair.

mvymvy said...
on Sep. 6 2012 at 10:58 am
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).   Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in more than 3/4ths of the states that now are just 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions.                                                                 When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.                                                                      The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.                                     In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%,, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.   The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.   NationalPopularVote                                                                  Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

mvymvy said...
on Sep. 6 2012 at 10:55 am
With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with a mere 26% of the nation's votes! Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states.  More than 2/3rds of states and voters are ignored. Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states),  presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don't matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most. Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group.  Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK -70%, DC -76%, DE --75%, ID -77%, ME - 77%, MT- 72%,  NE - 74%, NH--69%, NE - 72%, NM - 76%, RI - 74%,  SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT - 75%, WV- 81%,  and WY- 69%.    In the lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 3 jurisdictions.

mvymvy said...
on Sep. 6 2012 at 10:53 am
  The Electoral College is now the set of dedicated party activists, who vote as rubberstamps for presidential candidates.  In the current presidential election system, 48 states award all of their electors to the winners of their state. This is not what the Founding Fathers intended.                                       The Founding Fathers in the Constitution did not require states to allow their citizens to vote for president, much less award all their electoral votes based upon the vote of their citizens.   The presidential election system we have today is not in the Constitution. State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award Electoral College votes, were eventually enacted by states, using their exclusive power to do so, AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution. Now our current system can be changed by state laws again.                                        Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution-- "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ."   The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."                                   The constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected.  Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation's first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet).  Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century.                 Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election.   In 1789, in the nation's first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.   The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. It is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method.                                                                                          The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state's electoral votes.                          As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and frequently have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Maine and Nebraska do not use the winner-take-all method


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