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US Politics - The Electoral College

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What do yall think of the electoral college and how it's currently used? Or the relation between how it's used today and how it was originally used? Or its relation to popular vote in presidential elections?

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I think it needs to be changed it can at times give certain states/districts a little bit too much of a deciding factor over others.

In this day and age especially with more electronic voting systems making it easier for everyone to vote , it should be a direct vote by individual citizens.

 

But just my opinion , my .02 cents

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Not really a fan. The basic system, as I understand it, is that the population of a state vote for an elector, who then (if they win the vote) will declare his/her state's share of the EC votes for their preferred presidential candidate.

 

There are a number of potential and real problems.

 

1) Due to differing populations, different states have different numbers of EC votes. Therefore Presidential campaigns have a marked tendancy to focus heavily on the more populous states and effectively ignore the rest. Not terribly representative ;)

 

2) Electors can change their mind, or even refuse to vote, thus nullifying a whole state's voting. The last instance of this I'm aware of was in 2000, but then I'm not up to date on US politics.

 

3) Popular vote vs EC vote. A candidate who gains the most actual votes from the population can still lose. This can happen in any system where there is a 'second tier' of votes, but is a particular risk in a system where the blocks of second-tier votes vary so massively in size (largest is 55, smallest is 3).

 

 

Mind you, they do at least keep adjusting the numbers of Electors per state, to keep in line with population fluctuation.

 

 

As a comparison, the UK system:

 

The country is split into constituencies of roughly equal population size. Each constituency elects an MP (Member of Parliment). The party with the most MPs elected wins.

Again, it is technically possible to lose the popular vote yet win the election, but because the constituencies are (roughly) equally-sized and only get 1 'second tier vote' each that possibility is greatly reduced. It also means that there are no big blocks that soak up all the campaign attention, so parties are forced to appeal to a much wider spread of the population.

 

I would like to point out that the UK systemn also has its share of flaws, I'm not going to claim that it is perfect. I'm just bringing it in as a comparison as it seems to have a slightly fairer 'second tier' componant.

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1) Due to differing populations, different states have different numbers of EC votes. Therefore Presidential campaigns have a marked tendancy to focus heavily on the more populous states and effectively ignore the rest. Not terribly representative ;)

 

Except that it is representative. The most populous states have the most people in them, so there is more voters in them anyway.

 

2) Electors can change their mind, or even refuse to vote, thus nullifying a whole state's voting. The last instance of this I'm aware of was in 2000, but then I'm not up to date on US politics.

 

Very rare. The one who does so better have a good reason otherwise it is like commiting political suicide.

 

3) Popular vote vs EC vote. A candidate who gains the most actual votes from the population can still lose. This can happen in any system where there is a 'second tier' of votes, but is a particular risk in a system where the blocks of second-tier votes vary so massively in size (largest is 55, smallest is 3).

 

The other side is if 1.000.000 dead voters vote for one cadidate in Rhode Island. With the Electoral College, the candidate might win Rhode Island, but that is it. If it was just a straight popular vote, the 1.000.000 dead voters might cause that candidate to win the entire thing by itself in a close race.

 

 

As a sort of related issue, I would rather see the US Senate go back to not being elected by voters as well. Having voters vote for candidates in both houses is redundant. As it is now, it is basically two House of Representatives. The Senate was originally created to represent each state's interests, while the House was created to represent the people's interests. Now the US just has the House of Representatives and the House of Redundancy.

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The thing that gets me is something that was mentioned above, more populous states have more pull in the election, meaning that some of the candidates don't even campaign or give at all about whether they win some of the smaller states. For example, every candidate would go all in to win states like Florida, Texas and California. While some would still like to win the smaller states like Delaware and Rhode Island, they do not care nearly as much.

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1) Due to differing populations, different states have different numbers of EC votes. Therefore Presidential campaigns have a marked tendancy to focus heavily on the more populous states and effectively ignore the rest. Not terribly representative ;)

More populous areas will receive more attention in campaign season under any system, though the EC system can drastically magnify it.

 

2) Electors can change their mind, or even refuse to vote, thus nullifying a whole state's voting. The last instance of this I'm aware of was in 2000, but then I'm not up to date on US politics.

That's actually only partially true. Each state chooses on their own how to choose their electors, and they also define how binding a vote for elector is. For instance, in many states an elector is bound by law to cast their vote in the national convention for whomever the popular vote within the state chose. If they go against that, then they are subject to arrest and are no longer that state's delegate. However, as I said, it's a state thing. It can still happen in some states.

 

3) Popular vote vs EC vote. A candidate who gains the most actual votes from the population can still lose. This can happen in any system where there is a 'second tier' of votes, but is a particular risk in a system where the blocks of second-tier votes vary so massively in size (largest is 55, smallest is 3).

Right you are. In fact, in the last election a candidate could technically have won with only (roughly) 11% of the popular vote.

 

 

As a sort of related issue, I would rather see the US Senate go back to not being elected by voters as well. Having voters vote for candidates in both houses is redundant. As it is now, it is basically two House of Representatives. The Senate was originally created to represent each state's interests, while the House was created to represent the people's interests. Now the US just has the House of Representatives and the House of Redundancy.

 

I knew there was a reason I liked you.

 

 

Right now the electoral system is stuck in a state between what the founding fathers established and where populists see it. I will first explain to you the populist version, as it will be quick to explain and easy to understand.

 

 

The populist version of presidential elections would be (ideally) a short and sweet process in which everyone votes and the candidate with the highest percentage of the population voting for them wins.

 

The original process was what some might label as slightly elitist and undemocratic, hence its slipping away over time. In this process each state was allowed to send a certain amount of delegates to the national convention, the number of which was mostly based upon population (It was and is based upon the number of representatives said state has in congress. So, 2 (senators) + X population (members of the house)). It was and is up to each state how the delegates are chosen. Initially the electors would actually campaign themselves. You would actually vote for electors in every sense of the word. Back then, when the world was a much bigger place, it was nigh impossible for the general population to get to know presidential candidates. So instead, they would get to know local delegates and select one to choose a president in their stead. Candidates who were elected could get to know presidential candidates, either before during or after they were elected (Electors were likely often prominent figures in national politics, possibly even members of congress to which their seat was correlated, though this is only an assumption on my part.). Through this process, those who were voting could get to know those who were being voted for. The people really had a chance to get to know their electors, and electors really had a chance to get to know presidential candidates.

 

 

 

Hopefully you can see the distinction between the two processes. Over time, we drifted from the original process due to the Populist Movement. Populism is basically a philosophy in which an ideal leader will do exactly what the people want and say, and nothing else. The founding father's philosophy was much less that of the delegate democracy of the populist movement, and more of a trusteeship seen in a Republic. They believed that those elected to lead should indeed lead. Rather than listen to whatever the people were saying, representatives should do what they believed to be best for both the people and the nation. You can see many hints to this philosophy in the constitution and original US and state governments. Anyways, back on topic, the populist movement has been an up and down movement for many years, and has had such an impact on modern politics that many of their ideals are now taken for scripture by much of the general population, and anyone who opposes them are sentenced to political damnation. Hence why the electoral college has tried moving from the original trusteeship method towards a sort of demented popular vote system that is in place today.

 

 

 

I'm in favor of the original process. :P

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More populous areas will receive more attention in campaign season under any system, though the EC system can drastically magnify it.

 

Not really, candidates will go after swing states (Ohio, Florida), not big states. No presidential candidate is even going to try campaigning in Washington DC, or Utah, and very few will campaign in Texas or California, because they lie so much to one side of the political spectrum. In the US, states that recieve the most attention are medium or small, not large.

 

Also, to be extremely technical, small states actually carry a unproportionally bigger percent of votes in the electoral college. See, Wyoming, which has .18% of the population of the US, will represent .56% of the votes in the electoral college, and California, on the other hand, which has 11.91% of the population of the US, will represent 10.65% of the votes.

 

Right you are. In fact, in the last election a candidate could technically have won with only (roughly) 11% of the popular vote.

 

I believe the correct version is 22% of the popular vote, and 11% of the total population of the US, assuming current voter turnout. Also, the scenario is extremely improbable, these states are always split between the Democratic and Republican candidates. Delaware, DC, and Connecticut are pretty much polar opposites of Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.

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Not really, candidates will go after swing states (Ohio, Florida), not big states. No presidential candidate is even going to try campaigning in Washington DC, or Utah, and very few will campaign in Texas or California, because they lie so much to one side of the political spectrum. In the US, states that recieve the most attention are medium or small, not large.

Now you're double categorizing. Taking ONLY size of a state into account, a candidate is going to campaign in bigger states. My point still applies in that if there are several key swing states, a candidate is obviously going to focus mostly on the largest one.

 

Regardless, swing states themselves are only a factor because of the electoral system. As you said, candidates only shoot for the states that are split roughly down the middle, and states that lie on either side of the line will receive little to no attention.

 

Also, to be extremely technical, small states actually carry a unproportionally bigger percent of votes in the electoral college. See, Wyoming, which has .18% of the population of the US, will represent .56% of the votes in the electoral college, and California, on the other hand, which has 11.91% of the population of the US, will represent 10.65% of the votes.

Extremely technical, but yes you're correct. :P

 

 

 

I believe the correct version is 22% of the popular vote, and 11% of the total population of the US, assuming current voter turnout. Also, the scenario is extremely improbable, these states are always split between the Democratic and Republican candidates. Delaware, DC, and Connecticut are pretty much polar opposites of Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.

 

Actually, I think I did calculate for total population... Either way it was a very low percentage. And my point isn't that it's going to get that low, but that it's very possible to lose while winning the popular vote.

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Now you're double categorizing. Taking ONLY size of a state into account, a candidate is going to campaign in bigger states. My point still applies in that if there are several key swing states, a candidate is obviously going to focus mostly on the largest one.

 

Regardless, swing states themselves are only a factor because of the electoral system. As you said, candidates only shoot for the states that are split roughly down the middle, and states that lie on either side of the line will receive little to no attention.

 

True, but if you want a candidate to campaign equally across the US, getting rid of the electoral college isn't going to do it. For example, an advertisement shown in New York City, will be much more useful than say, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

 

Actually, I think I did calculate for total population... Either way it was a very low percentage. And my point isn't that it's going to get that low, but that it's very possible to lose while winning the popular vote.

 

Yes, but in 200+ years of American History, that's only happened four times. 2 of which had to be tried in court because of some voting irregularities, and another which was thrown in the House of Reprsentatives because no one actually won the electoral college.

 

Also, it could be argued that the Founders wanted electors because there would be so many parties in each state, that it would be impossible for any one person to get anywhere near a majority in the college, and so the election would be thrown into the House of Representatives, which would be even less equal, since each state would only have one vote.

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True, but if you want a candidate to campaign equally across the US, getting rid of the electoral college isn't going to do it. For example, an advertisement shown in New York City, will be much more useful than say, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Correct you are, but campaigning would be distributed between urban cities rather than states. I live in one of the many areas ignored by candidates, but I could drive to a city within an hour that would receive candidate attention. There is no way to completely level the playing field between the urban and rural population, but narrowing it down to cities rather than states would definitely slash the disadvantage that rural Americans have.

 

 

Yes, but in 200+ years of American History, that's only happened four times. 2 of which had to be tried in court because of some voting irregularities, and another which was thrown in the House of Reprsentatives because no one actually won the electoral college.

Correct you are. Yet it has happened.

 

Also, it could be argued that the Founders wanted electors because there would be so many parties in each state, that it would be impossible for any one person to get anywhere near a majority in the college, and so the election would be thrown into the House of Representatives, which would be even less equal, since each state would only have one vote.

 

Unless I'm misinterpreting what you're saying, then that doesn't really make any sense.

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Correct you are, but campaigning would be distributed between urban cities rather than states. I live in one of the many areas ignored by candidates, but I could drive to a city within an hour that would receive candidate attention. There is no way to completely level the playing field between the urban and rural population, but narrowing it down to cities rather than states would definitely slash the disadvantage that rural Americans have.

 

 

All that does is make the "district" candidates campaign in smaller. Candidates will still only campaign in areas with a large, near equal number of Republican and Democratic voters. That most likely still means no one is going to Washington D.C. or Utah to campaign.

 

Correct you are. Yet it has happened.

 

Once, considering the fact that the US is the longest lasting Republic in modern day history, I'd say that pretty good, and considering that every other republic pretty much votes for the head the state the same way.

 

Unless I'm misinterpreting what you're saying, then that doesn't really make any sense.

 

It would make more sense of you've read Federalist 10. Pretty much, the founding fathers believed that in a country that large, there wouldn't be a person that could get the required number of electoral votes to become president, and therefore, most, if not all elections would be thrown in the House of Representatives. In those cases, each state would only be able to cast one vote.

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It would make more sense of you've read Federalist 10. Pretty much, the founding fathers believed that in a country that large, there wouldn't be a person that could get the required number of electoral votes to become president, and therefore, most, if not all elections would be thrown in the House of Representatives. In those cases, each state would only be able to cast one vote.

 

Which is irrelevant now, seeing as the USA is essentially a 2-party state.

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Which is irrelevant now, seeing as the USA is essentially a 1-party state.

 

Fixed. No need to thank me.

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I think that you should take a test to be able to vote.. That way only those that know what they are doing can vote...

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wouldn't that be against the idea of democracy....where everybody gets a say? 

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I dont think so? Anyone can vote? Just have to take basic test? This way it cuts out people that are like "man i should vote for obama cause hes black, and also "man we shouldnt vote for a black president". And well if the popular vote doesnt matter then we already dont have a say in it?

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We need it honestly. Politicians would spend all of their election seasons in New York, Texas, California, and Florida if we didn't. Thats where the larger cities are, and thats where they'd get all of their votes from.

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We need it honestly. Politicians would spend all of their election seasons in New York, Texas, California, and Florida if we didn't. Thats where the larger cities are, and thats where they'd get all of their votes from.

I thought they did that anyway.. Haha

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We need it honestly. Politicians would spend all of their election seasons in New York, Texas, California, and Florida if we didn't. Thats where the larger cities are, and thats where they'd get all of their votes from.

Again, politicians in the US spend time where states have about a 50/50 chance of going either way, e.g. Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Hampshire. They're commonly called battleground, swing, or purple states. As you can see, they are not always the most populous state. All other states will probably go the same way each election, which is why most politicians ignore them.

I dont think so? Anyone can vote? Just have to take basic test? This way it cuts out people that are like "man i should vote for obama cause hes black, and also "man we shouldnt vote for a black president". And well if the popular vote doesnt matter then we already dont have a say in it?

Probably illegal based on the 14th amendment, specifically this part: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

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