Electoral College

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moocow

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The past 2 weeks or so in my American Government class we have been talking about the electoral college and how it works.

I am just wondering what people's opinion on the electoral college is, I personally think that another system needs to be put into place but the current system needs to be disbanded.

If you don't know what I am talking about the electoral college is basically the college that elects the president, yes it takes into consideration of popular vote, but recently there have been two presidents elected because of electoral votes and not popular (most recent was gore vs bush). A state has so many votes (ga has 13 but its the number of people in the house of representatives plus 2 (the ones in the senate)) and D.C has 3. the people who get at least 270 votes will become president.

There is probably more on wikipedia, but I am getting tired and have to wake up early to get to work
 

Verscha

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The Electoral College is an outdated relic from a bygone era that desperately needs to be purged from the Constitution. Additionally, it is goddamn confusing for 16-year-old non-American politics students like I once was. Of course, the likelihood of this change happening is very slim, since constitutional law is notoriously difficult to alter and, for the most part, it isn't *that* damaging to democracy since for the most part, the appointed electors do vote for their guy.

However, it is undeniably unfair (it seems weighted in favour of smaller states, from what I remember) and the issue of 'faithless electors' is still a problem. A system whereby whatever candidate gets the most of the popular vote wins would be much more logical.
 

chevre

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Every president is elected because of a majority in the electoral vote and not the popular vote, it's just that some only win the electoral majority. In fact, if we had to have a majority popular vote, in recent times, we would have had a number of elections with no winner, where both candidates received under 50% of the total vote.

Now, the reason the electoral college is bad is not, in my opinion, because it doesn't always go with the popular vote -- it's that, in principle, the electors could go against the vote of their state. But, this is a minor issue, as it's unlikely to happen. And if it does, I guarantee the system will be reformed shortly thereafter. in the end it's kind of goofy, but not worth the effort and cost to change it now.
 

Fire2box

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Even though Bush Jr won by it in 2000 I would rather see only the popular vote matter. The reason is I live in California a pretty liberal state, with the way its working out now the state democrats overrule the voices of me and my fellow republicans. Really my vote wont matter anytime soon in a presidential election since there's like 10-20% more democrats here then republicans, CA is already locked in for Obama and it gives him a automatic 55 electorate votes.
 

chevre

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But you see, in 2000.. Bush got 47.9% of the popular vote, and Gore got 48.4%. The rest went to other candidates. That means nobody won a majority popular vote. What do you do when nobody wins the election?
 

Fire2box

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But you see, in 2000.. Bush got 47.9% of the popular vote, and Gore got 48.4%. The rest went to other candidates. That means nobody won a majority popular vote. What do you do when nobody wins the election?
Umm... Highest vote count wins?
 
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I have a minor problem with the electoral college and that comes from states that are like Illinois, New York, and others where a large portion of the population is located in one area, Chicago, NYC.

These maps show the problem fairly well.

Election results by state.


Election results by county.



Election results in purples showing how close the results were by county.



So in Illinois in 2004 Kerry had about 550,000 more votes than Bush, giving Kerry the state. Of Kerry's 2.9 million votes, 49.78% of these votes came from Cook Co. (29% just from Chicago, more than the difference for the state).

So what I would like to see, is that the Electoral college be redistricted, so that the winner of the state gets 2 votes, and then each congressional district gets a vote based upon the way that districts votes. Then at least I would think that my vote matters.

Chevre, not all Presidents have been elected by a majority of the Electoral College vote. John Quincy Adams was elected by the House of Representatives after no one candidate could get a majority. Thomas Jefferson tied Aaron Burr, and that election ended with a duel.
 

chevre

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Umm... Highest vote count wins?
So you're suggesting a plurality should be enough? What if 5 candidates were in the mainstream and the highest only got 20% of the vote. Should we allow a leader who was only selected by 20% of the population? Our current elections are decided by majority, which means having over 50% of the vote.
 

Fire2box

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So you're suggesting a plurality should be enough? What if 5 candidates were in the mainstream and the highest only got 20% of the vote. Should we allow a leader who was only selected by 20% of the population? Our current elections are decided by majority, which means having over 50% of the vote.
I'd rather have it be a majority but in this case the person with the highest votes should win. If that did happen how would you solve it? Cast a re-vote and end up with the same margins?

Also if the highest got 20% of the votes it would be a 5 way tie. Of course in the case you made the person would really have about 20.01% or so.
 
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I'd rather have it be a majority but in this case the person with the highest votes should win. If that did happen how would you solve it? Cast a re-vote and end up with the same margins?
Normally what places do that require a majority, but only get a plurality is take the top 2 and have a re-vote.
 

g6s

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I'd rather have it be a majority but in this case the person with the highest votes should win. If that did happen how would you solve it? Cast a re-vote and end up with the same margins?

Also if the highest got 20% of the votes it would be a 5 way tie. Of course in the case you made the person would really have about 20.01% or so.
Is called a run-off... and yes. That is what would happen until a majority could be met. This happens all of the time. This happened in Zimbabwe. This is how our elections should work. A lot of conservatives feel there voices aren't being heard, well I live in Washington and I vote democratic. If I didn't vote, the state would still vote the same way. If you don't live in a battleground state, you're vote is meaningless.

Majority election = winner.
 

Fire2box

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well I live in Washington and I vote democratic. If I didn't vote, the state would still vote the same way. If you don't live in a battleground state, you're vote is meaningless.
Well please don't vote then. :smile1:


I feel the same way pretty much but on the other side. Yet I will always cast my vote no matter what the polls say.
 

Martin

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Is called a run-off... and yes. That is what would happen until a majority could be met. This happens all of the time. This happened in Zimbabwe. This is how our elections should work. A lot of conservatives feel there voices aren't being heard, well I live in Washington and I vote democratic. If I didn't vote, the state would still vote the same way. If you don't live in a battleground state, you're vote is meaningless.

Majority election = winner.
If everyone thinks that way then it could make a difference.
 

Ace

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Run-off elections do happen with some sort of regularity, I believe Louisiana is pretty well known for having run-off's, though perhaps one of our members from Louisiana would be able to confirm this.

Personally, I like the electoral college to some extent, but it could be modified. There are a few states, I think just one or two that actually will split their electoral votes based on the popular vote of that state. I think, though I could be wrong that Maine does this, and I think one of the great plains states does this too, perhaps Nebraska, though I'm not sure. I for one would like this system a bit more especially since I live in New York which is definitely not a swing state. I'm sure NY is going to go for Obama, but I'm still going to go out on Tuesday and cast my vote for McCain even though it likely won't make a difference. Personally I would like it a bit better if say McCain were to receive 40% of NY's popular vote that he would receive some of our electoral votes. Here in NY, us that live in the rural part of the state generally have different views and values and political ideals than those that live in New York City and the metro area and there is a large feeling among us up in the "Red" area's of New York State that our views aren't heard because the nation only hears what the City has to say.

Just my $0.02
 

Pojo

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Chevre, not all Presidents have been elected by a majority of the Electoral College vote. John Quincy Adams was elected by the House of Representatives after no one candidate could get a majority. Thomas Jefferson tied Aaron Burr, and that election ended with a duel.
That was before the Electoral College though, wasn't it?
 

Ace

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I think the electoral college was around then, the issue was that in order to win the presidency, one needs to have a majority of the electoral college votes, not just a plurality. This could happen if there are three or more candidates that each win electoral votes. It hasn't happened in a very long time since we have a very strong two party system and third party candidates nowadays don't seem to win enough votes to win any electoral votes.

When there isn't a clear majority in the electoral college, the house of representatives will decide the winner I believe. I wouldn't worry about that occurring this time around though.
 
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The Electoral College has always been in use, although the methods of choosing the Electors and how they vote has changed.
 

Pojo

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The Electoral College has always been in use, although the methods of choosing the Electors and how they vote has changed.
They developed the Electoral College in the 1800's I believe...I'd have to check my history book for the exact date though
 

Lil Snap

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Run-off elections do happen with some sort of regularity, I believe Louisiana is pretty well known for having run-off's, though perhaps one of our members from Louisiana would be able to confirm this.
...
Here in NY, us that live in the rural part of the state generally have different views and values and political ideals than those that live in New York City and the metro area and there is a large feeling among us up in the "Red" area's of New York State that our views aren't heard because the nation only hears what the City has to say.

Just my $0.02
We Louisianians have a runoff almost with every election cycle. We have closed primaries, ( you can only vote for candidates offered by your chosen party )and when you have multiple candidates from each party for an office; say, senator for example, the primary election is to narrow the choices for each party to to run in the main election. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, then a run off election is called between the top 2 vote getters, to determine who will go to the main, and run against the other parties candidate.

It's less complicated than it sounds, and it works because precincts are drawn (and redrawn and redrawn. . . )with an eye (in a perfect world) to having a balanced representation of democrats and republicans in each district.

That is the reason that the electoral college is important in my view. It would be impossible to attain a balanced representation of the electorate in a popular vote takes all system. The candidates would only have to court the top 10% (not exact but you get the idea) most populated areas of the country in order to win an election, effectively disenfranchising (my $5 word of the day) the rest of the country. More urban areas= more liberal, so in effect you could have a 1 party monarchy (using the term loosely).

Not good for any of us.
 

Maverick

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I don't really like the Electoral College all that much. It's just not truly democratic. There are cases, like in the 2000 election, in which the candidate with the most popular votes (Kerry) lost. And that's not really fair. The government is supposed to be decided by the people, not by a bunch of representatives in the electoral college.
 
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