Haley Goranson

Spiritual Being Having a Human Experience,

This conversation is closed.

Eliminating electoral college in the United States

I just want to hear your opinions on if things would be better if electoral college ceased to exist in the United States.

Eliminating the two party system in the United States?

  • thumb
    Dec 10 2012: My first reaction would be "Yes! Things would be better!", but if that's my answer I think I have to pinpoint what problem the EC elimination would solve.

    The EC is far from perfect, and by all accounts is not operating the way the framers intended (and even if it did, that might be even worse). It leads Presidential candidates to focus on a handful of states while campaigning (because not acting that way would likely lead to defeat), and has in the past handed victory to the candidate that didn't not carry the most votes nationwide (see Gore V Bush).

    On top of that it unnecessarily complicates the process while also leading voters to believe, because in many cases they are correct, that their vote "doesn't count" (because the direction of the their state electors is a foregone conclusion: Utah, California ...).

    But my biggest fear is with the ever-expanding partisan divide coupled with the fact that states manage how their electors are assigned. What happens when states start getting "creative"? This is already happening in Ohio where a Republican-controlled state house is trying to have EV's apportioned by congressional district (not PV), and those CD's have already been gerrymandered by the same R-controlled body. It may sound crazy, but gerrymandering does have an impact, in 2012 Dems won 2M more votes than Republicans in house races, yet won fewer house seats. Had Presidential votes been assigned that way the "will of the people" could have easily been subverted and chaos would ensue.

    So in short, I say buh-bye to the EC. But bigger problems (in order) are the money in politics that has perverts the process (or, campaign finance reform) and voter suppression and voting practices that need a national overhaul.
    • thumb
      Dec 11 2012: 116.1 million people voted last month. 59.3M (51.1%) voted for Obama. 56.8M (48.9%) voted for Romney. The will of the people (who bothered to vote unlike the 28.8M who could have voted but didn't bother) was clearly (2.5M people) that Obama should be POTUS for four more years. The EC came up with the same decision. So what's the problem?
      • thumb
        Dec 11 2012: I think that the EC and the popular vote have only been different a couple of times in history.
      • thumb
        Dec 11 2012: My point wasn't that the will of the people was subverted in this election, but that it could be in the future with the state-based CD-driven EV allocation example I mentioned above. We've seen Republican-controlled state governments pass crazy laws in the past couple of years (from anti-Sharia law laws, to forced ultrasound) so I wouldn't put anything past them. I realize this sounds partisan, but it's fact-based.

        I will also add that Al Gore won 500,000 more votes nationally than Bush in 2000. Regardless of how you judge the quality of Bush's leadership (or prognosticate on how well Gore might have governed) you don't see a "problem" with that?

        Lastly, the current numbers are actually "better" (higher turnout/more clear winner) than you stated: The winning margin is actually closer to 5M votes, Obama is sitting at 50.97% to Romney at 47.29% and 128M people voted. Could that be even higher with a straight PV model?

        Given all this I'll boil it down and ask three questions:
        1-Do you think a President should be elected with a smaller share of the popular vote, as happened in 2000?
        2-Would you be happy with some states allocating their EV's in a manner inconsistant with the rest of the nation? Knowing that doing so would skew the EV count and potentially the outcome of the election.
        3-There are currently 7-10 (swing) states where each vote is effectively more "valuable" because the margin of victory is low. This inevitably leads voters (red and blue) to believe that their votes "don't matter". Do you believe more people would vote if they knew each vote would truly be counted? (Please table for a moment the notion that people SHOULD feel compelled to vote in any circumstance, consider actual human behavior, be it personally acceptable or not).

        *And yes, that last one is subjective, speculative and maybe even leading. Respond as you will!
        • thumb
          Dec 11 2012: 1) EV votes are tied directly to population, about 1 per 279,000 voter I think. 39 states can vote for X and the remaining 11 can vote for Y. If the Y states are CA; TX; NY; FL; IL; PA; OH; MI; GA; NC; and NJ then Y wins based on 56% of the population voting for her/him. The other 39 states only represent 44% of the population.
          2) I think no EC members have ever gone rogue even though, legally, they could. They vote according to the general election results. Anyone attempting to gerrymander the system should be shot on sight for treason.
          3) People do not make voting decisions based on their perception of whether their vote counts or not. Those irresponsible people who choose not to vote do so because they are apathetic and uninformed, they are too busy with other things. Those who do choose to vote do so because they want to promote a desired agenda.
      • thumb
        Dec 12 2012: Thanks for entertaining my questions Ed! (*Can I call you "Ed"?)

        1) I have to admit, you lost me with the math, but what I believe you're arguing is that if EV's are connected to population (which is true) than it's mathematically impossible to have an EV/EC split? Or is it more of an interesting fact that the 11 largest states can overpower the other 39? Regardless, in 2000 GW Bush got 50,456,002 vote and Gore received 50,999,897 for an PV advantage of approximately 1/2 a million votes, yet Bush won the EC 271/266 and with it the Presidency. The SCOTUS actions aside, I personally don't think that's acceptable (*and that goes for D or R).

        2) I'm sure there's some tongue-in-cheek with the "treason" part but you might be surprised to know that it's already happened and has for years. Maine and Nebraska both award their EV's by Congressional District. It hasn't been an issue because historically these are not swing states and they don't carry a lot of EV's. In 2008 Obama, for the first time in modern history, carried one of NE's 5 EV's (CD2/Omaha). Now, Pennsylvania GOP Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi wants to follow that same model. If that happens in other heavy EV swing states that normally swing Democratic (Ex: MI), and does not happen in other swing states that normally go red (Ex: Georgia) you have a rigged system. And we agree states are fully within their Constitutional rights to award their EV's however they please so nothing is stopping them.
        Michigan has already done the CD gerrymandering, now they just need to attach EV's to the CD's.
        http://www.thenation.com/blog/171690/gops-new-voter-suppression-strategy-gerrymander-electoral-college

        3) I agree people normally cast a vote to promote an agenda, but it's pretty hard to ascertain why people DON'T vote. I believe the reasons you noted have merit, but I have a hard time believing voter turnout wouldn't go up with a PV system.

        Thank you for your thoughts.
        • thumb
          Dec 12 2012: I do answer to "Ed".
          1) [First, a detail: 271 + 266= 537. Aren't there 538 EC delegates?] The only way Bush could have won was if he reached 270 EV's which, of course, only one candidate can do. Your figures show that Bush did that. I am ignorant of the details regarding the 27 Florida EV's, but I think it was an anomaly.
          2) I'm serious. Gerrymandering should be punishable by law. I am sorry to hear it has begun, but we cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater. Hunt those conniving bastards down and lock them up! Thanks for the link.
          3) I see no reason to think ignorance and apathy would be reduced by abandoning the EC. I firmly believe the end effect of not voting is to support whoever wins, simply because the non-voter did not vote against the victor. This is a MUCH bigger problem than the EC.
      • thumb
        Dec 12 2012: 1) Weird. Good addition by you and good point re: 538. The FEC stats say there was one abstention. WTF?
        http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/2000presgeresults.htm

        2) Agreed.

        3) Mostly agree. Abolishing the EC won't wipe out apathy but I think it would help.

        While I don't have any sympathy for those that don't vote, I'd also like to encourage voting in any way. I don't think that's the job of the Government, but at the same time if Gov can do something to help, why not? Conversely, the Gov should not be making it harder for people to vote either (see recent "voter ID" laws). I'm a little torn here.

        How about making it a crime to not vote? What about making election day Saturday? What about automatic registration when you get a drivers license? What about vote by mail in every state? What about same-day registration? The last three have been done and do lead to better turnout ...
        • thumb
          Dec 12 2012: Good exchange sir. Eisenhower said, "The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter." It is too bad that the word "American" is not understood to be the same as the word "voter". Thank you and be well!
      • thumb
        Dec 12 2012: Right back at ya' Ed, it's been a stone groove my man!
  • thumb
    Dec 10 2012: This was discussed at length recently.

    Short answer learn about why the Electoral College exists in the first place.