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Should Americans eliminate the Electoral College and elect their presidents through simple majority vote?

Given that some presidents have won without persuading the majority of Americans, and the huge deal of money spent only on swing states I ask myself that question

I have always thought that it is unfair that republicans in California or Democrats in Texas are not taken into account just because people around them think differently.

Time for change?

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  • Oct 24 2012: To end the "confusion" about "tyranny of the majority" once and for all: that phrase is about a majority oppressing minorities through democratic means (such as Jim Crow and DOMA). It is about people, not states. People have votes, not states. The electoral college has nothing to do with tyranny of the majority, the bill of rights, having two parliamentary houses, having a supreme court and the requirement of a supermajority for a constitutional amendment do. The electoral college is a freak accident, a means to let southerners have their cake and eat it to (they could prohibit slaves from voting and still not lose influence in elections). Several founding fathers opposed the idea and several others saw it as nothing more than an acceptable temporary compromise.
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    Nov 12 2012: I think maybe the last few elections show that the whole purpose of the EC is defeated by the winner takes all policy of the majority of states. It just means that instead of the few large states dominating the campaigns the few swinging staes of various size dominate the campaigning. If all states used proportional representation then campaigning in any state would be just as likely to get you another EC vote so the potential POTUS would have to cover a lot more ground.
    • Nov 12 2012: Yes, and even if they only went to the major cities they would already reach more people than they currently do in such metropolises as Des Moines and Cleveland.
  • Nov 9 2012: The fact that we are discussing removing the Electoral College shows the extent to which we are no longer a republic (small R) but are instead run by an enormous central government. To get rid of the Electoral College is to say that we are simply one large, monolithic governmental unit, ignoring the fact that the initial structure of the government gave very little power to the central government, conferring most to the states. Under that system, essentially, the states as relatively-sovereign units were voting for *their* representation at the federal level. We now see our city/county/state governments as relatively feeble and useless with most of our focus being on Washington, DC. Abolishing the Electoral College would, in effect, crystallize the idea that we are not a plural "United States", but a singular.
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      Nov 12 2012: I appreciate what you're saying there Eric, but I'm not sure I entirely agree with that sentiment. Our federal government, or "central government" as you call it, consists of the three main powers, of which the presidency is just one equal third. This question is only about the presidency, and so I presume the other two thirds consisting of the congress and supreme court would not change the way those members are chosen. The congress is obviously very much about individual states representing their citizens.

      I think what's happened is that technology has allowed 100's of millions of us citizens to actually make an informed decision about who to elect for president. That just may not have been imaginable at the time of the founding of this nation. At the same time, the expanded role of the federal government has made the choice of president much more relevant to citizens.

      Because of all that, I would heartily endorse efforts to abolish the electoral college and elect our president through simple majority vote. Only then would every vote really count.

      Edit: And this is why I'm so interested in how the how legalization of pot thing plays out in terms of states rights. There is no valid constitutional basis for the federal government's stand here, and I am hoping this issue gets to the Supreme Court and helps tip the balance of power back towards the state.
  • Nov 8 2012: We need to get rid of the electoral college. It's obsolete. It was created when there were many rural areas that knew nothing of the candidates. Today we live in a digital age where all day and night you can watch news or go online to research info.
  • Nov 5 2012: In a national vote, separation of votes by stae is not needed. Simple majority should be the rule
  • Oct 29 2012: The Electoral College is a direct violation of my Civil Right to vote for President and Vice President. In nearly all states, electors are awarded on a winner-take-all basis to the candidate who wins the most votes in that state. Therefore, all citizens that voted for the candidate that lost that state have had there votes eliminated. In states where one political party is stronger than the other, the minority party will never get a chance to vote for the President. This is a direct violation of my constitutional rights to have my vote count.

    We have the technology and ability to correctly count ballots. The Electoral Collage is outdated, and is no longer needed.

    Regardless of your political views or party, wouldn't you like your vote to count?
    • Nov 3 2012: I see what you are saying Rick, but I dont see how a direct popular vote would change the situation. If we had a direct popular vote, one side would still win. The losing side's votes would "not count" just like the minority in the state did not count in your example. The problem is not the electoral college system but the fact that there is only one president who is elected. A popular vote system wouldnt change that
      • Nov 3 2012: With a popular vote you really need 50%+1 votes to win, with the electoral college you can win with as few as 25%+1 votes because the vote of a democrat in Texas or of a republican in New York really don't count.
    • Nov 9 2012: While I understand your frustration, claiming it's a violation of your "Civil Rights" is incorrect. Because the United States Electoral College is established via Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution which binds the electoral college votes to the membership of Congress and the 23rd Amendment which gives D.C. three electoral votes the electoral college is perfectly constitutional.

      I do believe that the electoral college itself should be updated to be required to take into account the popular vote in a state unless less than 50% of the states registered voters do not vote. It's a complicated issue and should not be looked at as simply as a "gut it and take into account the popular vote only" viewpoint in my opinion. Many of the systems in place are to prevent a tyranny of the majority situation. Many are also in place when the electorate as a whole did not always have access to information like we do now. Update it absolutely. Gut it and be done with it... I don't think that's an answer.
  • Oct 28 2012: Hell No!! If you do away with the Electorial College then our Presidents could theoreticaly be elected by people living on the east coast between Boston and Washington DC, combined with the people living on the California coast. Thereby leaving everyone living in the rest of the country without a voice. The Electoral College is designed for each State to be represented based on its population, as is the US House of Representatives. As for Wade's comments about to much Lawyers being elected, he is right that to many Lawyers are elected. But that is WE THE PEOPLES fault. We choose to vote for them and 50% of us are to DAMN LAZY to vote. Hence we have the Govt. we deserve. If we as a Nation truely want a better, more representitive govt. then WE THE PEOPLE should get off our collective lazy butts, and VOTE in the primaries for any candidate who is not a lawyer. If we as a Nation are fed up with 24 consecutive years of IVY League rule, then WE THE PEOPLE should vote for any third party candidate. Unfortunately, I believe we have a combination of to many spineless people and to many sheeple. I for one will continue to vote my consience and vote for a non lawyer Third party candidate.
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      Nov 12 2012: And why should the opinions of "people living on the east coast between Boston and Washington DC, combined with the people living on the California coast" matter less than yours?
  • Oct 24 2012: By all means! This is an outdated situation. We've been a UNITED STATES for a long time.
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    Oct 24 2012: We don't need to eliminate the electoral college. We just need to realize our government has more positions than President. We need to consider our state elections and fill our congress with progressive thinkers...not biased individuals elected by lobbyists.
    • Oct 24 2012: i.e., it isn't the systems, it is the voters don't use their right side of the brain when selecting their representatives.
      • Oct 24 2012: No, it really is in the system. If 74.9% of the public voted for Ghandi and 25.1% for Hitler, then Hitler could win the presidency if he won in all the right districts.

        The electoral college gave America George Bush and look at this British parliamentary election result that uses a similar regional winner-takes-all system:

        Conservatives: 10.7 million votes --> 306 seats
        Labour: 8.6 million votes --> 258 seats
        Liberal Democrats: 6.8 million --> 57 seats

        In fact the liberal democrats gained a greater percentage of the votes than in the previous election, yet they actually lost 5 seats! The British conservatives have traditionally been the biggest beneficiaries of the system, while the liberal democrats have made the popular vote one of their key platform issues.

        Like the British system the electoral college kills off third parties and makes people win elections with a minority of the votes.
      • Oct 24 2012: It is about the system. Electoral colleges should be dropped and alternative vote should be enacted, it ensures an election that most people will truly be happy about, instead of an election based on important zones.
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    Oct 23 2012: Maybe instead of worrying about the Electoral College it would be better to try to do something about limiting campaign budgets, you might actually get a President that is independant.
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      Oct 23 2012: They tried that with McCain Feigngold which did little to reform the campaign contribution but as usual added complication.
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    Gail . 50+

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    Oct 22 2012: It's a horrible system. It devalues you and me. It makes our votes meaningless if we are a minority in our state. It leaves a handful of people choosing a candidate that I voted against, and their vote is more powerful than mine.
  • Nov 15 2012: Hi Noah,

    I largely agree with your points and have a few other thoughts to offer. I think that the bi-partisan system is inherently flawed because it encourages only voting for "the one you like better than the other" when I haven't found strong allegiance with either candidate in the last 30 years. I currently reside in the Czech Republic and I'm very intrigued by their system. This January will be their first election where the president is not elected by parliament. a) it's a popular vote (as is everywhere in the world that has free democratic elections - America is the only one that uses an electoral college) - b) they currently have 11 candidates for president. I closely identify with several of them.

    The pre-requisite for becoming a candidate here is getting 50,000 signatures from the general populace, and they must be endorsed by 10 deputies (senators). This - for a country of ~10.5 million people - makes it challenging enough that one must be a serious contender just to be nominated. So, from these 11 candidates, there is a "primary" of sorts, but it's a popular primary. No affiliation with a political party is required. From this primary, the two with the most votes go to a popular vote run-off. The most interesting thing? I've yet to see *any* mud-slinging. It is strictly business from their stance about what they will do to improve the country in their way with their methods.

    I believe that it's *because* the electoral college doesn't give us enough choice in the matter from the very beginning during the primaries, that we are forced to form allegiance with one of the two political parties.

    But my larger point, addressing your first paragraph, is that I - and tens of millions like me - don't vote because our vote doesn't matter for purely geographic reasons. How would things change if we had 80% voter turnout instead of 57.5%? Until I live in a state where my views matter in the EC, I fail to see the value in voting for president at all.
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      Nov 15 2012: Do you think the relative civility of Czech elections is to do with a less active press and therefore less ability to "buy" votes with massive and expensive advertising campaigns? Or is it more to do with the lack of a well formed bi-partisan R or D for life mentallity that seems to exist in much of the US.
    • Nov 16 2012: Age Funk, you have seen the flaws of the Electoral College system. It can discourage voter turnout. Discouraging voter turnout is probably the best argument against the system.

      The other comments about the bi-partisan system actually encapsulate the goal of the system. When the U.S. was first created, it was very diverse. The bi-partisan system normally works in larger diverse states; the parliamentary model works better in less diverse states. There were lots of immigrants in the colonies, and the economies of the North and the South were drastically different. There were lots of different ideas and interest groups with conflicting ideas. The two-party system tries to force platforms that untie as many people as possible. This would prevent one group from trying to legislate only for its benefit. (For example, if the people located in the major cities of the US could gather enough support to win the election for whoever they wanted, they could pick one candidate who put ridiculous land taxes on the entire nation. This would severely hurt the people who live in rural states while the city-dwellers were largely unaffected. This is just an example, but it demonstrates the point.) The two-party system forces the two different parties to make platforms that are broad to gather as many votes as possible. If the US had a system like the Czech Republic, the popular primary that you spoke of could very well lead to two candidates that did not represent the public at large. (Maybe two candidates that were pro-military and also pro-life. If one did not like those stances, he could not vote against them because both candidates would be for it.) The popular election would then be less representative of the wishes of the people than the two-party system.

      I see what you are saying. The system is not perfect, but the alternative has the potential to be much worse.
      • Nov 16 2012: If it was a truly popular vote, how would you end up with a run-off between two candidates who had the same views? Here, there aren't 6 of the same candidate and 5 of the other - that's the beauty of it. They are all extremely different from each other. I guess to me, it feels like the USA as a whole - through the EC - doesn't trust its people to choose from a rainbow of colors, only black or white. If you are Orange, or Blue, you have to decide what your 2nd favorite color is, but they're all different colors. You couldn't end up with two Reds to vote between because there would be no point running against someone so similar when there are so many diverse choices. By polarizing the entire nation, the EC encourages a black or white, segregationist, for-us-or-against-us mentality which frankly, goes against everything I believe America was founded upon.

        Subsequently, I believe that by not having a 2-party system, during the primaries, yes, you would have 11 people receiving (likely) far less than 50% of the popular vote, but the MOST *popular* 2 candidates would be in the runoff. It's the exact same as the USA primaries now, except that instead of having truly varied opinions as here, you get 11 Rs and 11 Ds deciding who will be black and who will be white at the end, that can only be decided by registered Rs or Ds, so it's polarized from the start. There are no shades of grey, and this is what America is: 16 million shades of grey between the two extremes.

        What you speak of about one group railroading another group into something they don't want is EXACTLY what I complain about happening today in the EC. Oregon's vote is swung every election by the urban areas - Portland and Eugene - which goes completely against the roots of the state. People don't migrate to rural areas (or they would no longer be rural) so no matter how you slice it, I politely have to disagree about it being a worse alternative, but I agree that R or D, America is terrified of change.
  • Oct 26 2012: I have read so much about the EC lately but fail (still) to understand how there is a better representation of individuals through the EC as many assert, compared to a popular vote. I am an Oregon resident and I have never voted in Presidential elections. Why? Because my vote does not matter *because* of the EC. In 2012, Obama will win Oregon and Romney will not. Regardless of who I vote for, my vote does... not... matter. Millions in the USA feel the same as I do. Show me a conservative in Oregon and I'll introduce you to a liberal in Texas. And the media wonders why there's low voter turnout, *this is why.* Regardless of the debates about whether or not the USA is a "true democracy" or a "representative republic" these are tangential to the real issue which is that statistically, millions and millions of people do not vote, and one of the many reasons why is that a percentage of non-voters feel that their vote simply does not count, because it doesn't in an EC for the majority of politically concerned non-voters. If there were a popular vote, I would be voting in every single election because at least I'd know there would be a check mark for an official I want to see in office. Until then, I deliberately neglect my civic duties as a voter and US citizen because it's an utter waste of my time, all due to the geographical area in which I happen to live and work and pay taxes. One could assert that it's a form of taxation without representation in a way, when one's representation is determined solely by the majority, that's just another form of mob rule, cloaked under the guise of democracy.
    • Nov 8 2012: Hey Age,

      I get your frustration, but here's two things to think about: First of all, you should still vote. I'm in Massachussetts, which is also going to go blue no matter what, but I still vote because there are a lot more offices than just the presidency--this year there was a very close senate race as well as 5 referendums, some of which passed and others failed--for which your vote does certainly count.

      Secondly, if we did away with the EC, I hate to say it, but your vote would count for less than it does now, because it would get lumped in with all of the votes from huge population centers like New York City. To put it in perspective, NYC alone has a population of 8 million people (New York state has 20 mil).
      South Dakota has 800k
      North Dakota has 700k
      Montana has almost 1mil
      Oregon has almost 4mil
      Idaho has 1.5mil


      All of those states added together barely come to one NYC, and they come to less than half of one New York State (add in Washington state, and you're still lagging far behind). Right now, by the electoral college, Oregon= about 1/4 of New York. That may sound bad, but by popular vote, Oregon would equal less than 1/5th of New York. All of the states listed above currently equal 4/5 of a New York by the EC, but by population, they'd only equal a little over 3/10 of one.

      In other words, a vote in Oregon is a lot more valuable now than it would be if we got rid of the Electoral College. And what that means is not just that candidates would have no reason to appeal to Oregonians if we nixed the Electoral College, but that every single viable candidate would have to come from New York or LA. Because a New Yorker would automatically have enough in-built supporters to dwarf any candidate from any other state. So unless you like the idea of every president being the former Mayor or Governor of New York for the rest of time, you should be pretty happy the Electoral College is in place.
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    Oct 26 2012: Presidents should be elected through simple majority voting without any influence from an outdated electoral college system. Let's keep moving forward and diffuse aged systems that are no longer effective in today's society.
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      Oct 29 2012: What are the reasons this "aged system" was put in place?
      Do you know?
      • Oct 30 2012: The system was put in place over 200 years ago when communications took weeks in some cases. so they made the number of votes each state get proportionate to avoid majority rule and sent the electors to DC to choose the president on their states behalf.
        • Nov 3 2012: Well, the was one reason, but the main reason is representation. I live in a smaller community in California that is majority Republican Conservative (way up north), so I understand exactly why we have the electoral college. Its for the small states such as Wyoming or Nebraska who have less people than California. Growing up in certain areas makes huge influences on your beliefs, and thus who you vote for. Being in San Francisco is substantially different than Redding Ca. If it were majority vote, the voices of smaller communities (the important ones who grow food for America) will not be heard while large cities with similar beliefs from similar cultures choose for the rest of us.
    • Oct 30 2012: I'm sorry but majority rule is just as bad as minority rule.
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    Oct 24 2012: A chart of interest in this subject would look like a healthy person's EKG. Every 4-years interest peaks and we all agree that the EC should be looked at and probably abandoned. Then, BOOM!, we have a new or a returning president and nobody cares for the next 3-1/2 years. Besides, Christmas is coming, we can talk about this later. Politically speaking America is 50 states, not 365 +/- million individuals. If everyone moved to one state guess which state would have the most say in electing a new Prez?
  • Oct 23 2012: The very core of the voting system is flawed in the US and for that matter in the rest of the world.

    Two of the largest issues I see are:

    1) People are voting for a single person or party to translate their opinions (often very poorly over a very wide selection of subjects. I don't know of a single person that agree's with every single statement their preferred party has made.

    2) No one is educated in every aspect politics make decisions over yet we expect them to vote for it. People should vote for the subjects in their field of expertise or are directly to their person.

    I'm confident that the people of a country are more then capable of ruling themselves without the need of politicians we just need to make this technically possible.
  • Oct 23 2012: @ Pat Gilbert, "In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of the landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be jsut, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." -James Madison

    Originally land owners were only allowed to vote, a lot of the founding fathers owned slaves and George Washington was far from a grass roots guy, he was worth roughly 500 million today. The founders cared about themselves and their friends, the did not care about anyone who was not white, woman, or the poor at least in regards to allowing them to take part in shaping their society.

    "Complexity is typically an indicator of someone's lack of understanding. You are economically and politically illiterate. Of course it appears complex."

    Pat, anyone who does't passionately love free markets is illiterate according to you, anyone who doesn't believe in libertarian ideology is illiterate to you. I used to espouse the ideas you do, i voted for Ron Paul in 08 I've later come to see absurdity in that ideology. Its a clear call for corporate tyranny. Would you call the human brain complex? I would and so does everyone who studies it. You would never here a neuroscientist say the human brain is not complex just because they understand the current literature and findings, sorry your point makes zero sense. The entire history of humanity as well as our current political problems with the economy is complex. If you think it isn't my guess is that you have settled for a feel good ideology that only benefits you.

    yes we had 3,000 people killed on our land but Iraq was not even close to the beginning of war for profit.
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      Oct 24 2012: Having skin in the game is a valid way to keep the vote to the people who do want what is best for the country.

      I would not want someone to operate on my brain who thought it was complex. There are parts of the brain that Science does not understand. I imagine for you to say I don't know would be a very complex problem.

      Ron Paul and the Libertarian philosophy is very viable (not to be confused with nut cases like Noam Chomsky) I have been a registered Libertarian since the mid 70s.

      All you have to say is I don't know about this stuff. Which would be impossible for you.

      http://www.ted.com/talks/kathryn_schulz_on_being_wrong.html

      I don't disagree regarding war.

      I might add that the infinitely more effective and important disposition is this:

      http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html
      • Oct 24 2012: "Ron Paul and the Libertarian philosophy is very viable"

        Lol, I have yet to meet the first libertarian who was willing to start from scratch in a libertarian society. They're always rich people or people who are financially secure and have a Napoleon complex that makes them think they would've been millionaires if there were no taxes (because they don't make mistakes, everything that's not perfect in their lives is the fault of "gubment" and "moochers"). All libertarians expect to become top dog, I say let them, dumpe them on an island and let them battle it out, Lord of the Flies style...
      • Oct 24 2012: Pat what is best for the country is to be decided by everyone who lives in the country. The idea that only those who hold economic power should vote is ridiculous. I cannot think of a quicker route to oppression. I know how you feel about a federal government guiding you, how would you feel if the federal government blocked your right to vote on social issues because you were not a sociologist or because you didn't work in the field. This is just an attempt to highjack power from those you disagree with. Everyone has stake in the outcome in the United States you just think the ones you happen to disagree with should be silenced.

        Pat, continuously hinting that I don't know what I'm talking about and then rebutting me with meaningless responses doesn't bode well for your argument. Ill gladly watch the links I think being able to admit when your wrong shows maturity as well as rationality.

        What I really do not get is you telling me I should just admit I don't know what I'm talking about, sorry Pat your not the authority on this subject as bad as you may want to be. What is it that I don't understand? Let me guess, your train of thought goes "if he disagrees with me then he just does not get it" I think I get it, the scary thing is I know you do too yet you still hold steadfastly to your beliefs.
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          Oct 24 2012: Oppression does not work that way.

          No I'm just trying to hijack power from those who want a free ride those who do not care about the American Dream or America.

          I'm sorry did I infer that I was inferring, my mistake, You don't have a clue what you are talking about I mean that in an in your face, black and white, sort of way.

          Am I the authority NOPE, but I do know which way is up. The thing is you and other people think that we are playing patty cakes, which is not the case we are talking about the future of the world. You can say I'm being dramatic but the fact is I'm not.

          When I recommend those videos I'm not trying to be right I'm trying to learn you something. I would not waste my time on someone like John Smith, but I think you might smell the coffee... A lot of people would say I'm being provocative but I assure that is not the case. What I 'm saying is to LOOK
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        Oct 24 2012: " Having skin in the game is a valid way to keep the vote to the people who do want what is best for the country."
        In general I agree with this statement but there must be allowance made in some cases. If the GFC caused me to lose my job which in turn caused me to default on my mortgage should I lose my right to vote as I am now unemployed with no material assets?
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          Oct 24 2012: The GFC was a consequence of government meddling that should not have occurred in the first place.

          Having skin in the game goes way back and is not relevant to today.
  • Oct 23 2012: I would say in short, yes. To be more specific, I feel like the entirety of our system of representation should be overhauled. The current system, even through a direct popular vote, wouldn't fix the issue of an election won by majority, simply because the addition of another candidate (let alone multiple) makes a majority vote much harder and in some cases nearly impossible to achieve. For a history on this, look at the election of John Quincy Adams. In modern terms, if Ron Paul were put up for election alongside the two candidates already running, it wouldn't be all too surprising if none of the three candidates got more than 50% of the vote.
    So I would prefer to see a system like IRV (Instant Runoff Voting), wherein the people can vote for multiple candidates in order of preference. With such a system multiple candidates could run for office, and if no majority is held, the votes that counted towards the candidate with the least votes are recounted to the next highest preference until a majority is seen. This allows for a breakdown of the two party system, presenting the people with more freedom of choice, and would still allow the majority to win, without having to rely on archaic tie-breaker style rules written into our laws. It would likely take several cycles before the two major parties really suffer any losses, but as voters catch on we could break out of this system into a much more open and direct one. So with that, not only would Democrats in Texas be heard, but so would Green Party members, as well as any Libertarians in California and so on.
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      Oct 23 2012: Niles

      How would that system guard against the tyranny of the majority?
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        Oct 23 2012: that majority would be a better representation of the populous, then our current system which is a tyranny of senior citizens. Which is not a true representation of the populous, most younger citizens don't feel there vote counts. So they don't vote. And sadly the are not 100% false for thinking this
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          Oct 23 2012: The last election had a record turn out apparently because of the novelty and ACORN.

          This poll does not show your contention of a senior tyranny in the last POTUS election?

          http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/elections/how_groups_voted/voted_08.html#.UIbz7VL4Jmk

          In general we have tried every idea under the sun since the 1700's. How about trying what the constitutions says? The framers and their work imo opinion was an anomaly in history and when their directions were followed the U.S. flourished which includes everyone in the whole world. Prospering and flourishing is the point is it not?
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        Oct 23 2012: Personally I am tired of the older class deciding how I live my life once there gone because all current politics does today is put a band aid on the situation and the kick the can down the road for the next group to band aid. Personally you shouldn't be in politics after 60 -65 and there should be term limits 4 to 8 years in each level max(local, state,federal). When your that old you don't have as much investment in the future as a 30 year old would.
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          Oct 23 2012: Term limits sound great but don't work, we have them here in Calf and you can see the results.
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        Oct 23 2012: Ok well how often have we had a african american man running for president? And a women running for VP? I am not sure that the last election is the best pick for your statistical analysis of poll stats.
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        Oct 23 2012: here is some facts on youth turn out

        http://www.ehow.com/about_4623699_voting-statistics-youth.html

        as well as how many people actual vote that can vote, which barely goes over 50% of that actual people who can vote.

        http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html


        So our current number of people coming out to vote represent less then half the voting population on average. Once again because they feel there vote does not count.
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          Oct 24 2012: What does this have to do with the tyranny of the seniors?
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        Oct 23 2012: How don't term limits work? I am sorry I don't live in Cali
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          Oct 23 2012: No I'm sorry I do live in Cali.

          Because the legacy of the former politician is continued through his assistants. The proof is Calif is as F'ed up ever.
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        Oct 23 2012: So the problem is more that when there are term limits the politicians them self change, but the staff of the former...former politicians remain the same? I can definitely see how that is a major problem. And would look less like a republic... although I have not watched that video is very long and I dont have the time to watch it right now. So you are correct we might not have the same definition of what a republic is. I am going with general terms that are along the lines of for/representation of the people


        And yes Cali is pretty much messed up but you guys are also very progressive which is a good thing. Personally it seems more like and ego thing as an outsider. Everyone's got an opinion and they think there opinion is better then the others. Which is ultimately the fundamental flaw or all politics not matter what country or state you look at
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          Oct 23 2012: Yes to the first paragraph. Look to my first post on this thread it might help with the definition of a U.S. Republic.

          Do you see a connection between "messed up" and "very progressive"

          Not sure what you mean by the ego thing? If you mean me I prefer the Joe Friday philosophy except for the Willfully ignorant which try my patience.
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        Oct 25 2012: no the ego in politics not you
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        Oct 25 2012: Oh that only 50% of the population that can vote does and the majority of that is older folks, not the youth as defined as 18-30.
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    Oct 23 2012: Here is the part of this that often gets over looked: "Each state government is free to have its own plan for selecting its electors."
    This means that states have the right to decide if it is a winner-take-all, or some other method.
    "Forty eight states, and Washington, D.C., employ the winner-takes-all method, each awarding its electors as a single bloc. Maine and Nebraska use the "Congressional District Method", selecting one elector within each congressional district by popular vote and selecting the remaining two electors by the statewide popular vote. This method has been used in Maine since 1972 and in Nebraska since 1996".

    Always helps to know what is under discussion.
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      Oct 23 2012: but the delegates can change there vote if they want


      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wC42HgLA4k
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        Oct 23 2012: They can change their votes in Maine and Nebraska? You're making a mute point if its never actually done to the extent that it created an public outcry.

        (This video full of skewed percentages and statistics, to the point that, in my opinion, it misrepresents the debate of the EC.)
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    Oct 23 2012: The reason that the electoral college should remain as is is that U.S. is a Republic that uses representatives to prevent the tyranny of the majority. Voters are pretty ignorant about politics and economics, once you have a tipping point of more people on the dole than not you have a situation where the majority will always vote itself more free stuff.

    Another factor on this is that the U.S. is founded on Federalism which means that the Federal and State governments run the country in unison. This is why what Lincoln did was so egregious. It used to be before Wilson the U.S. Senators were appointed by the States.

    So no it was never intended that the public elect the president or the senator only congress and state officials. As you know the state gives all of its electoral votes to one candidate and this is decided by the State as it was intended.

    And this boys and girls is why this country is circling the drain because too much power has been given to a centralized government which willy nilly results in socialism. The individual prospers in small government not with what we have now.

    The better solution would be to get rid of the 17th amendment.
    • Oct 23 2012: "The reason that the electoral college should remain as is is that U.S. is a Republic that uses representatives to prevent the tyranny of the majority."

      You don't solve "tyranny of the majority" issues by granting small states more votes because people in small states aren't more enlightened than people in big states. Besides, ask any gay (or elderly black) American how well that "Republic that protects the rights of minorities" idea works out in practice.
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        Oct 23 2012: My standard answer to you John is what the hell are you talking about?

        The myth is that black people and women are underpaid and there for the government should step in and fix this. The fact is black people made more money when the government did not "help" them with things like Davis Bacon, or minimum wage laws. Women make as much money as men, the whole thing about them being underpaid is crap.

        The Republic has served both very well, women can vote as can blacks. Blacks, Gays , and Women (no glass ceiling witness Meg Whitman, Oprah Winfrey, Carly Fiorina) are accepted socially and legally.

        I probably won't answer your next post as you are a Troll
        • Oct 23 2012: As usually you are living in the bubble. Anyone else would immediately have understood that I was talking about civil rights issues: it took the republic almost 200 years to grant blacks and women all civil rights and it still hasn't done so for gay people. Several countries with a popular vote beat the US to it by decades or more, in these departments. FYI: tyranny of the majority refers to the suppression of civil rights of minorities by the majority, not to the "little people" directly electing their head of state. The electoral college doesn't do anything to address real tyranny of the majority issues since there are plenty of bigots in the small states and electors are chosen by political parties.
        • Oct 24 2012: I was sitting in class when i wrote my last bout...came back to strike a point or rather just defend myself. Then i realized that everyone keeps getting a little off topic with their comments and/or keeps insulting each other in a way that does not represent the TED community.

          1.Tyranny of the majority from what i understand is just absolute rule of the minority group, in ancient Greece minorities were the poor, not minorities how we see it today being classified by ethnicity or what have you. Tyrants have absolute rule over everyone else, meaning those are the minorities, i haven't read anywhere where its used in a civil rights manner, but i could be mistaken.

          2. The lack of educated people on the topic of politics, which i referred to earlier, was vaguely put. We have a lot of people who do not know the government and/or governmental issues, outside of what's effecting their lives. Yes you can argue and say everything is effecting them, but what i mean is the average person does not take in consideration on how policies effect minorities in Chicago, or the middle class in North Carolina. It's all circumstantial, call me selfish but the average person does not consider people out side of their immediate group. I do believe that we need a better system where we can be represented not by how populated our states are, but then draw up a plan....don't sit their and argue about petty terms and opinions.

          3. Civil rights. We all have rights as citizens and we do abuse them at times...but granted we are deprive of certain rights(choices), such as gay rights and legalization of marijuana rights...but those do not always need to be shoved into debates. Let the people, that meaning US, fight for what we believe should be rights. Women's, minority rights, integration...those are things that people felt the need to bring attention and fight for...you want gay rights...fight for it. No one is stopping you.

          4. It is time for a change, but where is the effort to change it?
      • Oct 23 2012: I think what Pat is getting at is that the "people" do not have the best interest for each other. We really can't help each other while keeping our own interests at hand. We're talking about electoral college and voting rights for people, yet some guy decides to step in and talk about civil rights? Look, what the government does reflects the feelings of the majority, sounds blunt but it hold some validity. The difference between the civil rights of the past and of today is that many more people cared and did something to end the discrimination. If one method doesn't work, then try something else. People are giving up before the fight starts...matter of fact, could someone point to where the fight is at? If enough people cared today and went about it radically then their would be more rights for gays.
        Personally i don't think civil issues need to be addressed first hand here seeing that there are a lot bigger problems in our government right now, such as a failing economy, military, lack of jobs, etc. People have more rights in this country than a lot of countries and the resources to make a lot of themselves, but too often it becomes easier to complain and blame before actually attempting to move forward. Woman's rights and minority rights impacted the whole country, gay rights impacts a certain small percentage of this country. So can we drop that for argument sake?
        We can argue rights in a different conversation, but for now the question is whether we should eliminate the electoral college or not and I'd have to say we should not. There just aren't enough educated people, about politics, to trust that they would make the right decision and for the best interest for all. The majority would probably lean more democratic, which isn't an awful thing, but these people might be hurting themselves more than they realize.

        Could we just structure this debate a little better?
        • Oct 23 2012: "I think what Pat is getting at is that the "people" do not have the best interest for each other."

          As opposed to corrupt politicians and Wall Street execs? In any case it's not what "tyranny of the majority" means. "Fad of the day" may be the phrase he was looking for.

          "yet some guy decides to step in and talk about civil rights?"

          That "guy" correctly interpreted the meaning of "tyranny of the majority", unlike Pat.

          "Personally i don't think civil issues need to be addressed first hand here seeing that there are a lot bigger problems in our government right now,"

          Maybe if congress spend one afternoon not trying to deny women contraception they could grant gays full civil rights (which would grow the economy). I know, congress actually doing something that America is sometimes said to be all about, instead of money and war, sounds like fiction, doesn't it?

          "There just aren't enough educated people, about politics, to trust that they would make the right decision and for the best interest for all."

          Then appoint a king, or only elect a lower house, the EC doesn't do one thing to help people make better choices, all it does is give people from smaller states (who are more likely to be bigoted, uneducated rednecks) a bigger voice as well as keeping third parties off the scene. Oh and it enables a candidate with 25% of the popular vote to win the election.
        • Oct 23 2012: "There just aren't enough educated people, about politics, to trust that they would make the right decision and for the best interest for all. The majority would probably lean more democratic, which isn't an awful thing, but these people might be hurting themselves more than they realize "

          I dont even know where to begin, this statement is filled with so much absurdity, arrogance, and just ruthless selfishness that it scares me. Should we just let landowners vote, or maybe just whites, woman eventually can get their shot. Who are these people, the uneducated you speak of. Hurting themselves or hurting you? The founding fathers did not give a rats ass about the people hurting themselves they were scared of the people making changes to economic inequality. My guess, you are too. And if thats the case just say it, you don't want people to have a say in their society if that means they will ensure a reasonable standard of living for them and their family. Maybe i am wrong. Please don't give me a black and white oversimplified response about taking responsibility the world is far more complicated than that.

          This idea that the people must be guided by there leaders into what is best for them has got to go. Either we live in a society that recognizes all of its citizens as worthy members, who not only should shape their society but must, or we don't. Also keep in mind that under the same justification you offer our government has led to many illegal wars resulting in mass death and rampant barbarism. This sentiment is a very old one if not the oldest and has surely resulted in feudalism, communism, fascism, and every form of oppressive system known to man.
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          Oct 23 2012: The evidence indicates the framers did care, evidence being the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, The Declaration of Independence. No your contention is crap.

          Complexity is typically an indicator of someone's lack of understanding. You are economically and politically illiterate. Of course it appears complex.

          I agree we have been involved excessively in war imo cronyism to the military complex but at the same time we had 3000 people killed on our land in 2001.
    • Oct 23 2012: Pat, the country is circling the drain because the people have to much power? Is that what your saying? Power should be centralized to those who know how best guide the masses? Maybe I have misinterpreted.
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        Oct 23 2012: It is called the tyranny of the majority which is the basic problem with a democracy
        • Oct 23 2012: No, it's not, tyranny of the majority is about the civil rights of minorities. It has nothing to do with making the country even less democratic than it already is. You might as well hand the key to Washington D.C. to Wall Street on a silver platter.
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      Oct 23 2012: check out these videos


      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUS9mM8Xbbw how it works


      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wC42HgLA4k whats wrong with the college
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        Oct 23 2012: Cute videos that don't address the need for a Republic.
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          Oct 23 2012: are you talking republic or democracy? because getting rid of the electoral college would not get rid of democracy. And that have a national vote where ever vote counts. Its a better representation of a "republic"
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        Oct 23 2012: You do not understand the definition of the United States Republic.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xubuE1LT9g
  • Oct 21 2012: I actually debated this topic a while ago at a debate tournament, so I know a little about the subject.

    The system was originally put in place to prevent the more populated states from taking advantage of the small ones. That electoral college did a wonderful job at it. It seems like the aspect of the electoral college that bothers you is the winner-take-all system that the states use to distribute its electoral votes. I see the reasoning though. It is based on the hope that people will collaborate and pick a candidate that appeals to a lot of people. If they divided up the electoral votes based on percentages in a state, it could easily be split in multiple ways. (There could be 4 people who all get about 25% of the states electoral votes.) This could lead to a much worse situation where the president can have more electoral votes than the other candidates but still have relatively little of the popular vote. I see the logic and think that it is pretty solid. A good example of the vote getting split is when Teddy Roosevelt ran under the Bull-Moose party and split the conservative vote. Woodrow Wilson won the election with about 40% of the popular vote. The winner take all system discourages people from trying to run if they dont have a shot of winning. If we didnt have the winner take all system, this splitting of the vote would probably happen more often. So, I guess it is a "lesser of two evils" situation where the founding fathers though this system was better.

    One thing that is very outdated about the EC is the fact that we stopped adding representatives. This means people in smaller states have votes that "count more" towards the general election. If I remember correctly, a person in a less populated state has about 4 times the influence as a Californian on electoral votes because we stopped adding representatives.
    • Oct 22 2012: "The system was originally put in place to prevent the more populated states from taking advantage of the small ones."

      Why people ever thought that was a good idea is mind-boggling...

      It can't even be explained by partisan politics since US presidential elections are usually close races so it's not like one party benefits more from the EC than the other.
      • Oct 23 2012: I am not sure what you are saying about the partisan politics. Yes, the presidential elections are normally close elections. That is due a lot to the system that we have for electing the president. The electoral college pushes for the two party system by making all of a state's electoral vote go to only one candidate. This encourages only two competitive parties and two broad platforms. These broad platforms try to get many diverse people to work together. If they had electoral votes split up on percentage, it would be easier to have many parties split the vote. In summary, you are right in saying that no politcal party benefits more than the others through the electoral college, but the electoral college fosters an environment that only has two parties.
        • Oct 23 2012: You're right that the EC provides a huge incentive for a two-party system. I think US presidential elections usually being close races is more or less coincidence though and it's still possible for one party to gain a disproportionate amount of followers in the smaller states, without gaining a large majority nationwide, meaning that even in a close, two-party election one party could benefit disproportionally from the EC in the future.
      • Oct 23 2012: Ok now I see what you are saying! That might be true, but then I guess the bigger question is "is chance of one party greatly benefiting for the electoral college worth removing the system?" Removing the system seems to lend itself to multiple parties entirely too much for me to support it. I would much rather a political party win the electoral vote with only 47% of the popular vote than have a candidate who wins a popular vote election with only 40% of the popular vote because the rest is split between 4 candidates. I find the risk of harm to be greater for a system without electoral vote.

        The single transferable vote system described above seems like a viable option. I'm still weary of a popular vote system though.
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          Oct 26 2012: 4 candidates would force broader ideologies to surface which in my opinion is more sound. Plus it would lessen the power of well financed special interest corporations. It would also force us as a nation to educate ourselves on each candidate, rather than being shovel fed propaganda by the media.
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      Oct 23 2012: RE: "Mr. Long, I have to ask. . . "
      A pure democracy is ruled by a simple majority. The United States is not a pure democracy, it is a Representative Republic. There is a potential for a majority to be tyrannical, a sort of Council of Dictators.
      If, I said IF, the 11 most populous states settled into an alliance the other 39 states would be without a voice. The tyranny of the majority is a real threat to individual freedom. To be without representation is not in keeping with the Constitution of the United States. Of course, no matter which system is used, eventually a choice must be made. The question of who is to be the next POTUS must be answered. Is the EC as it now exists the best way to reach an answer? I don't think so. I think some changes are needed.
      • Oct 23 2012: With a popular vote states couldn't make alliances and no one would be left without a voice (because the votes of minorities in one state would pile on top of the votes of likeminded people in other states). It is because of the electoral college that the problems you describe exist at all. In France they don't have those problems: people in Marseille don't feel like they're drowned out by people in Paris because even if the whole town votes for someone else your vote still gets added to likeminded people on the other side of the country.
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          Oct 23 2012: I agree sir. And that solution immediately brings us face-to-face with the problem of too many candidates. With too many wannabes to choose from it becomes possible for a candidate with a minor number of popular votes to become POTUS simply because s(he) got more votes than the others. Then we have a leader that 88 people out of a hundred did not vote for. That sucks!
    • Oct 24 2012: and it discourages people from voting. If I lived in Texas I just wouldnt mind to vote as I would ultimately be voting for the other candidate.
  • Nov 19 2012: I definitely think it should be eliminated the country was founded to be the true definition of a republic (regarless of political party) as a system "by the people for the people" not by the electoral college for the government. it is frustrating that your vote doesnt really count. The offices which we vote on should be determined by they number of people who voted not based on "more demcrats in this state" counts for more than "more republicans in this state"
  • Nov 18 2012: Yes we should eliminated it. It had it place back in 1776 when it was put into the Constitution. However, I agree its not fair when you live in a state that is heavily weighted on another party. Its like whats the point of voting knowing your vote doesn't really count in those states.
  • Nov 16 2012: On the one hand, it's apples and oranges. One cannot truly compare a country half the size of Oregon with only 10.5 million people to America at all. Everything is on a smaller scale. But on the other hand, I'd love to see America's magnification *of* this smaller scale - where 10.5 million people have 11 candidates to choose from, America having 11 doesn't seem so 'wild' to me by ratio. 350 candidates (1 per million citizens) is a bit much, and maybe that possibility is a fear behind abandoning the EC. But back to your question, the press is as - or more - active than the US, it's just a smaller market. When there are political (or other) scandals here, it monopolizes the media's attention in a way that puts TMZ to shame, but it's also possible to campaign on that same smaller scale, thereby giving "regular people" a real shot without SuperPACs and corporate/lobby/interest support being required in the USA. I think it is both the R/D for life mentality and large size that breeds negativity.

    I guess my stance goes back to my original post: That I don't understand why there are so many defenders of the EC when no beneficial reasons have been cited thus far. Everyone seems to agree with my general statement that when a citizen lives in an area with disparate political beliefs, their presidential vote doesn't matter, and my statement is that I believe every citizen's vote for president should count. If not, than in many ways, the USA is a parliamentary republic: Parliament being the electors for the states, who vote for what the majority of their people want in unison. I feel like the bulk of what I've read from EC supporters on the topic are answering with a variety of "because that's the way it's always been" answers, without citing real benefits over a true popular vote system.

    I was brought up to believe my vote matters and it doesn't, all because of an archaic system that no one else in the world uses, and due to my geography as a registered voter.
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    Nov 16 2012: A black man with "Hussein" in his name & Arab blood in his veins is president. When I first heard his name I didn't believe it. For the longest time I thought it was a running joke.

    My point is, if the system wasn't honest, there is absolutely no way this would be possible. The voting system clearly still works. With that said, I completely agree with doing away with the electoral college. There's no point such a thing. Thanks to the new demographics of the U.S.; democrats will stay in power for a long time. The EC is in clear favor of democrats now.

    There should be no ruling party! Majority rule is the way of the west.
  • Nov 15 2012: The electoral college is vital to the Constitutional compact forming the United States of America. It really has its roots in the 1776 Constitutional Convention in the bicameral legislative compromise between large states and small states. James Madison's original "Virginia Plan" proposal was for one legislative body with representation based on population. New Jersey countered with a "small state" plan - a bicameral legislative branch: one house (Senate) with equal representation for all of the states and one house (House of Representatives) based on population. Today's electoral votes continue that compromise, giving small states power in the electoral process. Otherwise there would be no reason to vote in a state like South Dakota or Wyoming because there are probably 100,000 voters in California for every voter in South Dakota. There would be no incentive to vote if you lived in a small state. America would be the United Large States of America with some subservient small states without any power in a presidential election.

    Certainly every state could split their vote by Congressional districts - similar to what Maine & Nebraska do. That would make Republican votes in California more meaningful and Democratic votes in Texas count as much as those votes in South Dakota and Wyoming. It would also force the candidates to consider every state as significant to the outcome. Currently the Democrats start with more than a 100 vote advantage - New York (29), California (55), and Illinois (20) from just three states - without having to allocate any campaign dollars. Resources for both parties then focus on just a few states.

    Final word: this is the United States of America, not the People's Republic of America. The Electoral College works. Every state is represented fairly. Small states are important. Large states have clout. Individual voters affect the outcome in their state. Popular sovereignty & state sovereignty unite to elect our President.
  • Nov 13 2012: I just did some math: comparing the ratio by dividing the population per state by the number of electoral votes for fifty states:

    - The lowest ratio is in Wyoming: 1:189,316: This means on average you need 189,316 people for one electoral vote (this does not consider the number of eligible voters, but I assume the proportion is the same in the states).
    - The highest ratio is in California: 1:685,307: You need on average 685,307 people for one electoral vote.

    This means, more than three times more people/votes are required in California for one electoral votes, compared to Wyoming. In other words, each vote in Wyoming is three times more effective. This does not sound fair, what do you think?
    • Nov 15 2012: I see what you are saying, but this is due mainly to the fact that we stopped adding representatives to the House of Representatives. We used to keep adding representatives based on population, but now we just switch how many seats a state can have based on population. If we added representatives, (or atleast gave representatives more vote based on population, or some similar system) the problem would be moot. I think it would be easier to change this aspect of the electoral college than change the electoral college.
      • Nov 15 2012: Hi Noah, thanks for your comment. I think one of the problems is that the people who can change the election system are impacted by the same decision. This indicates a conflict of interest. Changing the election system requires a non-partisan mind set. I am not sure we have the mindset at the moment.
  • Nov 9 2012: Hi Evan,

    Thank you for your reply. One point of clarification: I still vote, I just abstain from voting for President because of the EC and I believe your logic is somewhat flawed. I am sincerely sorry if I'm being dense here and welcome a better explanation, but I don't understand how my vote would count less with national popular vote. I live in Oregon (whose electors voted for Obama therefore Oregon as a state voted for Obama) but let's say that I chose to vote for Romney. My vote is wasted as far as the Presidential election is concerned. If it was popular vote, my vote counts toward Romney. I am talking about a nationwide popular vote, and you are comparing the sizes of states - without an EC, the population of individual states doesn't matter anymore. When you say that in the EC, Oregon=about 1/4 of New York, you are talking within the context of an EC voting system, but look at it with me with some actual numbers from this election:

    Oregon has 7 EC votes, and voted 54.3 to 42.8% for Obama - 905,831 to 714,194
    New York has 29 EC votes, and voted 62.6 to 35.5% for Obama - 3,873,650 to 2,224,963

    Adding these two together, 4,779,481 voted for Obama but 2,939,157 votes did not count. This is a 100% victory for Obama because he got all 36 electoral votes, even though it was a 61.9 to 38.1% actual victory.

    The final national electoral vote was 332 for Obama and 206 for Romney which is a 61.7 to 38.3 victory for Obama percentage-wise, however 61,170,405 for Obama 58,163,977 for Romney is a 50.5 to 48% victory for Obama.

    Effectively, 42.8% of Oregon's presidential votes were wasted because of the EC. Same goes for 35.5% of New York.

    No candidate cares about states they know they will win anyway, they setup camp in batteground states only. Look at Hawaii - no one votes. My point is *voter turnout* - millions feels the same way I do and don't vote because it doesn't matter. It does matter if the margin is 2.5% popular instead of 23.4% EC. :)
    • Nov 9 2012: Yes, because of the electoral college an American presidential candidate can theoretically win an election with only 25% of the popular vote!
    • Nov 15 2012: I see what you are saying as well, Age Funk, but I do not think that a popular vote would really solve the problem. It can go either one of two ways.

      Lets take the example about Oregon's presidential vote being "wasted." I see how you could argue that about half the state didnt have a vote in the election, but if a popular vote system was used, a similar result would occur. The only difference would be that the "wasting of votes" would be on the national level instead of the state level. Oregon's votes for Romney would be added to the population vote, but since Obama got the majority, the Romney votes still get "thrown out." Because only one person can be the president, about half of the nation will not vote for him. This is just do to the nature of the election; it isnt based on the Electoral College.

      The other part of the system is that it encourages only two candidates. Since a candidate has to win a majority of a state to get any electoral votes, a candidate has to have a lot of backing. It discourages less popular candidates from running. This helps prevent the population from splitting the vote greatly. (if three equally popular candidates ran in an popular-vote election, one could win with about 35% of the vote which is significantly less than what normally happens in the Electoral College system.) This is the trade off. I personally find this a worthy trade off.