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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 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    One thing that is very outdated about the EC is the fact that we stopped adding representatives.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.

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