Electoral College The system that has been successfully electing our presidents since the 18th centu

March 20, 2010
By zhalem BRONZE, Larchmont, New York
zhalem BRONZE, Larchmont, New York
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

You live in a small town in Vermont. It’s the second Tuesday in November and the current president has already served his four year term. You know what today is: Election Day. So as usual, you go to your local library or school to vote. You walk into the voting machine you put in your vote. Then outside, someone gives you a sticker that says “I Voted.” That night you have the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference in deciding the president. This is because the Electoral College gives power to smaller states with a smaller population, such as Vermont. If the popular vote decided our president, then because Vermont has such a small population, your vote would be meaningless and no candidate would care about it. Since the Electoral College makes everyones vote meaningful, I believe the Electoral College should remain our system in electing government officials.

Most Americans think the Electoral College is a very complicated process. But I inform you: it’s not. The Electoral College was created at the Second Continental Congress by our founding fathers. Each state gets a number of Electoral votes. This number is calculated by adding the number of senators the state has (two for every state) and the number of members in the house of representatives the state has (determined by population). Or more simply, the number of seats each state has in Congress. On the second Tuesday in November, people all over the world vote for their favorite candidate and electors to support their favorite candidate. Most electors pledge their votes to a certain candidate, guaranteeing citizens they will vote for the candidate with the most votes. More than a month after all the people vote, the meeting with the electors and congress takes place. Besides Nebraska and Maine, all other states have adopted the unit rule. The unit rule means that the state’s Electoral votes cannot be divided by candidates. That person who receives the most votes in the state receives all of the state’s electoral votes. However since Maine and Nebraska never agreed to use the unit rule, their electoral votes can be divided among the candidates. To win the presidential election, the president and vice president, must win a certain amount of electoral votes. Today the number of electoral votes needed to win is 270.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
As stated in the Pledge of Allegiance, our government is a republic. Many people make the mistake that our system of government is a democracy. A democracy is a political government that is carried out directly by the people. We are a representative democracy (also called a republic). In a representative democracy the government is run by representatives who the people elect. Since the Electoral College involves electing people to choose the President and Vice President, it is consistent with the representative democracy form of government. Changing our voting system to a popular vote is not consistent with the principles of representative democracy, but rather is closer to a pure democracy.
If our voting system were changed to a direct democracy, would we have to change other parts of our government as well, such as the Senate in which each state receives equal representation? Ancient Greece once had a pure democracy. They had ordinary people like you and me trying to made decisions and govern themselves. Well, how do you think that turned out? Now Ancient Greece lives in ruins. Do you want the United States to live in ruins because we changed our voting system to a popular vote, which is a direct democracy? No we don’t! We should keep our voting system as the Electoral College, a republic, and not change it into a popular voting system, a pure democracy, so the United States of America can live on and strive.

Because the colonies were of all different sizes, our founding fathers had the foresight to enact a system of government in which the less-populated states would have an important voice in the government. The Electoral College prevents elections from being decided by the states with the largest populations, which would disenfranchise the less-populated states. For example, if you add up all the electoral votes of the smaller states, (those whose electoral votes are under 10), the sum outnumbers the combined number of electoral votes of California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Ohio. However, California alone has a larger population than all of the smaller states combined.
The Electoral College plays an important role in where the candidates campaign. With the Electoral College, a candidate must campaign in both the large and smaller states in order to have a chance to win the election. Many elections are decided by the electoral votes of the less populated states. If elections were based on the popular vote, candidates would only campaign in California and New York, and bypass the smaller states. The Electoral College results in all states playing an active role in deciding our leaders . In the 2000 election between Bush and Gore, the small states played a big role in deciding the winner. Although Gore managed to win California, New York, and Pennsylvania, Bush won the election by winning most of the less populated states. But because Gore won California and New York, he managed to win the popular vote.In sum, the Electoral College prevents citizens living in the most populated areas from always determining who will be the president.

Many people who want to get rid of the Electoral College argue that without the Electoral College, the Bush vs. Gore election would have had a different and possibly better outcome. In that election, most of the battle was centered in Florida. Later on, it became evident that the winner of the Sunshine State wins the election of 2000. Think about this for a second. If the government changed the election policy, to let the popular vote elect the president, would that have prevented the chaos of the 2000 election? Of course it would not have. Without the Electoral College, Bush and Gore would have both realized that either of them could demand recounts and challenge the ballots around the country, with hopes of finding enough votes that would lead them to victory. This would lead to lots of lawyers suing the counters of the votes around the country charging them with errors in the counting. With all the lawsuits and recounts of every vote across America, we wouldn’t have had a new president for months. The Electoral College actually resulted in the 2000 election being decided quicker than it would have if the election was based on the popular vote.

In sum, many people argue that eliminating the Electoral College and electing presidents by popular vote is a fairer and more democratic system. Those people, however, typically live in states such as New York and California that would benefit the most by eliminating the Electoral College. The Electoral College is more consistent with a democracy because it ensures that candidates will campaign in every state, and all citizens, even those in rural areas, have a say in electing our national leader. In a country with both heavily populated states and very rural states, the Electoral College is a fair compromise that allows all citizens the opportunity to have a meaningful vote for the president.

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This article has 7 comments.

mvymvy said...
on Apr. 22 2010 at 1:22 pm

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. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.


The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those 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.  The National Popular Vote bill does not try to abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.  Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President (for example, ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote) have come about without federal constitutional amendments, by state legislative action.


The bill is currently endorsed by over 1,707 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.


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). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska -- 70%, DC -- 76%, Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%;  in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, Minnesota -- 75%, New York -- 79%, Washington -- 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.


The National Popular Vote bill has passed 29 state legislative chambers, in 19 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon,  and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes -- 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

mvymvy said...
on Apr. 22 2010 at 1:21 pm

The U.S. Constitution, existing federal statutes, and independent state statutes guarantee "finality" in presidential elections long before the inauguration day in January. 


The U.S. Constitution (Article II, section 1, clause 4) provides:

"The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States."[Spelling as per original]


The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. 


Under both the current system and the National Popular Vote approach, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a "final determination" prior to the common nationwide date for the meeting of the Electoral College.  In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their "final determination" six days before the Electoral College meets.


In addition, in almost all states, state statutes already impose independent (typically earlier) deadlines for finalizing the count for the presidential election.  The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that state election officials and the state judiciary must conduct counts and recounts in presidential elections within the confines of existing state election laws. 


It may be argued that the schedule established by the U.S. Constitution may sometimes rush the count (and possibly even create injustice). However, there can be no argument that this schedule exists in the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and state statutes; that this schedule guarantees "finality" prior to the meeting of the Electoral College in mid-December.  This existing constitutional schedule would govern the National Popular Vote compact in exactly the same way that it governs elections under the current system. 

mvymvy said...
on Apr. 22 2010 at 1:20 pm

A nationwide recount would not happen. We do and would vote state by state.  Each state manages its own election. The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires. 


Under the current winner-take-all system, there are 51 separate opportunities for recounts in every presidential election. Thus, our nation's 56 presidential elections have really been 2,084 separate state-level elections. There have been five seriously disputed counts in the nation's 56 presidential elections. The current system has repeatedly created artificial crises in which the vote has been extremely close in particular states, while not close on a nationwide basis. Note that five seriously disputed counts out of 2,084 is closely in line with the historically observed probability of 1 in 332.


A national popular vote would reduce the probability of a recount from five instances in 56 presidential elections to one instance in 332 elections (that is, once in 1,328 years). In fact, the reduction would be even greater because a close result is less likely to occur as the size of the jurisdiction increases. Indeed, only two of the 23 recounts among the 7,645 statewide elections in the 26-year period from 1980 through 2006 were in big states.


The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush's lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore's nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the miniscule number of votes that are changed by a typical recount (averaging only 274 votes), no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome.  Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.


A single national pool of votes is the way to drastically reduce the likelihood of recounts and eliminate the artificial crises produced by the current system. 

mvymvy said...
on Apr. 22 2010 at 1:18 pm

The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and a candidate would win the Presidency if 100% of the voters in these 11 states voted for one candidate.  However, if anyone is concerned about the this theoretical possibility, it should be pointed out that, under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in these same 11 states -- that is, a mere 26% of the nation's votes. 


The political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely agree on any political question.  In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five "red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six "blue" states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey).  The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country.  For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry. 


Moreover, the notion that any candidate could win 100% of the vote in one group of states and 0% in another group of states is far-fetched.  Indeed, among the 11 most populous states, the highest levels of popular support were found in the following seven non-battleground states:

* Texas (62% Republican),

* New York (59% Democratic),

* Georgia (58% Republican),

* North Carolina (56% Republican),

* Illinois (55% Democratic),

* California (55% Democratic), and

* New Jersey (53% Democratic). 


In addition, the margins generated by the nation's largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally.  Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:

* Texas -- 1,691,267 Republican

* New York -- 1,192,436 Democratic

* Georgia -- 544,634 Republican

* North Carolina -- 426,778 Republican

* Illinois -- 513,342 Democratic

* California -- 1,023,560 Democratic

* New Jersey -- 211,826 Democratic


To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000  "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004 -- larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes).  Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 "wasted" votes for Bush in 2004.

mvymvy said...
on Apr. 22 2010 at 1:17 pm

The small states are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus.


12 of the 13 smallest states (3-4 electoral votes) are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections.  Six regularly vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota),, and six regularly vote Democratic (Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC) in presidential elections.  So despite the fact that these 12 states together possess 40 electoral votes, because they are not closely divided battleground states, none of these 12 states get visits, advertising or polling or policy considerations by presidential candidates.


These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has "only" 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 smallest states as important as an Ohio voter.

mvymvy said...
on Apr. 22 2010 at 1:16 pm
A "republican" form of government means that the voters do not make laws themselves but, instead, delegate the job to periodically elected officials (Congressmen, Senators, and the President). The United States has a "republican" form of government regardless of whether popular votes for presidential electors are tallied at the state-level (as is currently the case in 48 states) or at district-level (as is currently the case in Maine and Nebraska) or at 50-state-level (as under the National Popular Vote bill).

mvymvy said...
on Apr. 22 2010 at 1:15 pm
The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates do not reach out to all of the states. Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their campaign events and ad money in just six states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Vermont is not among them, and is ignored like all the other smallest states except New Hampshire. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states, and candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state. Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections. In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

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