Electoral college issues

Seig

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When it comes to politics and politcally sensitive issues, I don't know why people bother to argue with each other. Each side sees the other as ignorant and/or misinformed. Settle your differences at the polls. Most Americans do not exercise their right to vote, that is the real travesty in American politics. Unfortunately, it is one I too well understand. When was the last time most of us said they voted for someone rather than against someone? In 1991, I talked to over 100 people about the election, not one person told me they voted for Bill Clinton, about half those people that I knew tore up their voter's registration card. When I asked them why, their answer was "Why bother?"

I recently had a close friend of mine tell me that it didn't matter who he voted for because the local incumbents and wealthy elite had already made up their mind and that was who would be elected. Maybe a topic for discussion, instead of "You are voting for Kerry/Bush, so you must be an idiot" would be, "Does our electoral college still work, if not, what is a better alternative?"
 
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Tkang_TKD

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Seig said:
Maybe a topic for discussion, instead of "You are voting for Kerry/Bush, so you must be an idiot" would be, "Does our electoral college still work, if not, what is a better alternative?"
That's a good topic for discussion. I being from Nebraska, tend to think that the electoral college still works for us, simply because our 5 electoral votes get split by percentage of vote. Voting strictly by political affiliation, our 5 would break down probably as:

3 for Bush (60% Republican)
1 or 2 for Kerry (38% Democrat)
1 or 0 for Nader/Other (14% non-partisan/independent/etc...)

It's my understanding that Colorado is considering splitting there votes, with a measure being placed on the ballot to allow it. I'm not sure how that will work out though.
 

kenpo tiger

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So, you two feel that the electoral college is very important to the election. Well, then I guess the popular vote should be done away with to your way of thinking. It means nothing anyway, right? Those electoral college votes are spoken for prior to the election, if I remember correctly. Besides which, we've been shown what the popular vote is worth by Florida's performance in the last election. So -- exactly how would either of you structure the elections of the future?

I'm hoping we cecede by then.
 

loki09789

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kenpo tiger said:
So, you two feel that the electoral college is very important to the election. Well, then I guess the popular vote should be done away with to your way of thinking. It means nothing anyway, right? Those electoral college votes are spoken for prior to the election, if I remember correctly. Besides which, we've been shown what the popular vote is worth by Florida's performance in the last election. So -- exactly how would either of you structure the elections of the future?

I'm hoping we cecede by then.
And so the campaign strategy is to win the college NOT the majority or represent the needs/interests of the people....

I don't really know the solution to the electoral college thing, and any other alternative will have its own share of holes and problems...

Considering that it is a 50/50 split on voters/non voters it really isn't the same as winning the majority of the population of the nation or an individual state. What if big electoral states only have 20% of the population voting and Kerry wins the state. 20% of Cali voted in favor of Kerry and that represents a very small population of the 'majority' relative to say NY state where 65% of the state voted and Bush wins that state...not a very solid representation IMO.
 

heretic888

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No offense, guys, but I always find complaints about the "electoral college" kind of funny.

It might do some of you well to read up on a little American history, and actually know why the system was set up in the first place. This might be a shocker, but we originally had a "popular vote only" type system and, guess what, the smaller states were pretty pissy about it. And, for good reason.

It has more than just the presidential elections, it also has to do with our current congressional system of house and senate.

Personally, I think the "popular vote" should just be ignored altogether. It would basically be what our "electoral vote" would be if we were actually the United State of America. The rub is, however, that we're not.

Laterz.
 

RandomPhantom700

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heretic888 said:
Personally, I think the "popular vote" should just be ignored altogether.
Ignore the popular vote altogether? In other words, completely eliminate any accountability that politicians have to their constituents? You might wanna elaborate here.
 

heretic888

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Ignore the popular vote altogether? In other words, completely eliminate any accountability that politicians have to their constituents? You might wanna elaborate here.

In no way does the "popular vote" make presidential candidates accountable to their constituents. It is a rather simplistic tally of the number of individuals that vote for a specific nominee nation-wide, and ignores the particulars of the states (which is the entire point of the electoral college, as well as having two bodies of Congress ---- to ensure a balance of power between the large and small states).

They are just as "accountable" in an electoral system, as they would be with a popular system. Only difference is, that with a popular system, a nominee could be president if he convinces the citizens of five large states to vote for him (meaning, all you'd have to do is cater to the geopolitical needs of a minority populace). In an electoral system, a nominee actually has a chance if he has a couple of smaller states supporting him.

Laterz.
 

loki09789

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heretic888 said:
No offense, guys, but I always find complaints about the "electoral college" kind of funny.

It might do some of you well to read up on a little American history, and actually know why the system was set up in the first place. This might be a shocker, but we originally had a "popular vote only" type system and, guess what, the smaller states were pretty pissy about it. And, for good reason.

It has more than just the presidential elections, it also has to do with our current congressional system of house and senate.

Personally, I think the "popular vote" should just be ignored altogether. It would basically be what our "electoral vote" would be if we were actually the United State of America. The rub is, however, that we're not.

Laterz.
Understood Herry, the history of disproportionate representation of interests is the down side of 'popular vote.' But, with technology (if used property - CHADSSSSSS!) as it is today, changing the voting process to represent the 'voting populace' would go a long way. This may sound cold but if you are of voting age citizenry and you choose not to vote, then doom on you. Pound sand all day but you aren't part of the solution.

The electoral college as a structure to establish a 'weighted system' much like we weight certain grades within the total marking period to emphasize significance/importance or to level the playing field is a function and an important one in reference to representation, but as a way of 'winning votes' it isn't really a solid representation either.
 

loki09789

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heretic888 said:
In no way does the "popular vote" make presidential candidates accountable to their constituents. It is a rather simplistic tally of the number of individuals that vote for a specific nominee nation-wide, and ignores the particulars of the states (which is the entire point of the electoral college, as well as having two bodies of Congress ---- to ensure a balance of power between the large and small states).

They are just as "accountable" in an electoral system, as they would be with a popular system. Only difference is, that with a popular system, a nominee could be president if he convinces the citizens of five large states to vote for him (meaning, all you'd have to do is cater to the geopolitical needs of a minority populace). In an electoral system, a nominee actually has a chance if he has a couple of smaller states supporting him.

Laterz.
Within the electoral system though, I have noticed that the analysts during elections constantly refer to the anchor states and 'swing states' and such, so it is still a matter of playing the game based on the rules of the field. Electoral or Popular you will have campaigns that are going to be strategically planned to win.
 

RandomPhantom700

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Ok, so now for the dumb question. If who gets into office is determined by the electoral college alone, and who gets into the electoral college is determined by the political parties, what the hell does my vote on election day matter?
 

Xequat

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The popular vote for each individual state dictates which way the electors from the state will vote. For example, if a state has 10 electoral votes and somebody wins that state by one vote or one million votes, then all of the electors for that candidate go and vote for that person (except in Nebraska, heh).
 

Bob Hubbard

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Funny thing, the electors aren't required to cast their vote for the popular candidate, but very few buck the system. I believe one or 2 electors did vote 'against' as a protest, and were pretty much destroy politically afterwards. (Rough memory from a long converstation 3 years ago).

How the Electoral College
Works Today



The system of the Electoral College was established in Article II, Section I, of the United States Constitution, and was later modified by the 12th and 23rd Amendments, which clarified the process.



When U.S. citizens vote for President and Vice President every election year, ballots show the names of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, although they are actually electing a slate of "electors" that represent them in each state. The electors from every state combine to form the Electoral College.



Each state is given a set number of Electors, determined by the number of the its U.S. Congressmen. The number of Representatives in each state correlates with the state population and is amended every decade when the Census is taken. The number of Senators is always two.

Each political party with a candidate on the ballot designates their own set of Electors for each state, matching the number of Electors they appoint with the number of Electoral votes allotted to the state. This usually occurs at the State party Conventions. Electors are typically strong and loyal supporters of their political party, but can never be a U.S. Senator or Representative. Electors are also generally free agents, as only 29 states require electors to vote as they have pledged, and many Constitutional scholars believe those requirements would not stand in a court challenge.

After the election, the party that wins the most votes in each state appoints all of the Electors for that state. This is known as a winner-take-all or unit rule allocation of electors. Currently, the only exceptions to this are in Maine and Nebraska.

The Electors for each state cast their votes in mid-December, after which the votes are sealed and sent to the President of the Senate. Though the public votes for the party as a whole, the Electors cast individual votes on separate ballots for President and Vice President. This has become important in several elections where Electors voted for candidates other than those they were pledged to. (See which states have legal control over their electors here ).

On January 6, the President of the U.S. Senate opens all of the sealed envelopes containing the Electoral votes and reads them aloud. To be elected as President or Vice President, a candidate must have an absolute majority (51%) of the Electoral votes for that position.

A majority is never guaranteed within the Electoral College. An election with no Electoral College majority could occur in two ways; if two candidates tie with 269 votes each or if three or more candidates receive Electoral votes.

If no Presidential candidate obtains a majority of the Electoral votes, the decision is deferred to the U.S. Congress. The House of Representatives selects the President, choosing between the top three candidates, and the Senate selects the Vice President, choosing between the top two candidates. In the House selection, each state receives only one vote and an absolute majority of the states (26) is required to elect the President. (In this situation, Washington, DC would lose the voting power given to it by the 23rd Amendment since it does not have the same Congressional representation given to the states).

However, a majority winner is not guaranteed in the Congress either. The states could feasibly split their votes equally between 2 candidates (25 state votes each) or the votes could be split between three candidates in such a way that no candidate receives a majority.

Also, since every state only gets one vote, the Representatives from each state must come to a decision on which candidate to support in the House. A state with an equal number of Representatives supporting the competing parties would not be able to cast its vote unless one Representative agreed to vote for the opposing side.

If a majority is not reached (for President) within the House by January 20 (the day the President and Vice President are sworn in), the elected Vice President serves as President until the House is able to make a decision. If the Vice President has not been elected either, the sitting Speaker of the House serves as acting President until the Congress is able to make a decision. If a President has been selected but no Vice President has been selected by January 20, the President then appoints the Vice President, pending approval by Congress

Taken from http://www.fairvote.org/e_college/today.htm

"Faithless Electors" are members of the Electoral College who, for whatever reason, do not vote for their party's designated candidate. http://www.fairvote.org/e_college/faithless.htm

Frequently Asked Questions about the Electoral College
http://www.fairvote.org/e_college/faq.htm


See also: The Center for Voting and Democracy (CVD) is dedicated to fair elections where all voters have an opportunity to be represented.
http://www.fairvote.org/
 

kenpo tiger

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So, as I believe Random pointed out, why does my vote count if the parties select their electors based upon what appears to be returning political favors? Isn't it a moot point, since the Electoral College votes subsequent to the popular vote? And, if they vote in Cheney as Veep and Kerry as Prez - where does that leave us? And -- what about states in which the popular vote is fixed, as in the prior election to this one?
 

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kenpo tiger said:
So, as I believe Random pointed out, why does my vote count if the parties select their electors based upon what appears to be returning political favors? Isn't it a moot point, since the Electoral College votes subsequent to the popular vote? And, if they vote in Cheney as Veep and Kerry as Prez - where does that leave us? And -- what about states in which the popular vote is fixed, as in the prior election to this one?
Dunno. I see NY as being a lock for Kerry, and I don't like either. I'm voting my for the 3rd party that I see as meeting my ideas. I know they won't win, but my vote may help them get more of that Federal funding and help keep them on the ballot. Maybe in 2008 they will even have a real debate and let someone besides the 'big 2' get involved.
 

loki09789

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kenpo tiger said:
So, as I believe Random pointed out, why does my vote count if the parties select their electors based upon what appears to be returning political favors? Isn't it a moot point, since the Electoral College votes subsequent to the popular vote? And, if they vote in Cheney as Veep and Kerry as Prez - where does that leave us? And -- what about states in which the popular vote is fixed, as in the prior election to this one?

That is why I love the phrases like "Traditionally a Democratic/Republican state" during the election coverage...

who are making up that percentage of voters from a specific state? Logically, it would be those who are most aligned to their values (and in some cases the party that they belong to because of that). But, if only 15% of the total population is voting how is that 'fair' representation of the state let alone the nation?

The apathy represented here is exactly what I am talking about as a result of the current form. Either it is a lack of real understanding or it is an outdated process that needs reforming.
 

Tgace

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I guess im for the electoral college system. I dont like the idea of the election being based on the votes of 3-4 of the largest states. Is the system perfect? Probably not but whats the solution? Maybe a popular vote where votes of less populated states are adjusted for proportion? i.e. a vote from Montana is 1.5 of a vote where one from NY is worth .85?
 
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Spud

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I live in Idaho, our 4 electoral votes will go to Bush. The only way to make my voice heard is to encourage third parties in the hope that one day they may grow into a viable alternative.

I suspect (please correct me if I'm wrong), that those voicing support for the electoral college either live in contested states or endorse the candidate who is favored in a locked state.

I care deeply about the issues, but don't pay attention to any of the campaigning or platforms. I will vote, but I don't kid myself thinking that it means a damn thing. Someone else will decide who leads the country for the next 4 years. Those of you living in contested states, please vote wisely.
 

heretic888

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I suspect (please correct me if I'm wrong), that those voicing support for the electoral college either live in contested states or endorse the candidate who is favored in a locked state.

I live in Florida, one of the highly contested states.

But, that had very little to do with my position on the electoral college. The whole point of the system is to establish a balance of power between large and small states (in fact, most of the Constitution was established with the sole aim of ensuring no group or branch has too much power --- an injunction we would do well to heed in today's society). That is why I support it.

Okay, history lesson, folks!!

Basically, the small states just wanted equal representation for all the states. Meaning, the "vote" of Rhode Island would be worth just as much as the "vote" of Texas (which, of course, didn't exist at the time --- but you get my point). The larger states, of course, just wanted a straight popular vote all the way through --- which would naturally give them a huge advantage over their less-populated neighbors.

The founding fathers were bright enough to establish a compromise: each state's "vote" would be equivalent to a set number (in this case, 2) plus a number based on their population size ---- in this way, the smaller states are still at a disadvantage, but Rhode Island gets twice the votes they would have gotten in a straight popular vote.

This is why we have the two bodies of Congress (one based on equal representation from all states, and one based on population density), and this is why we have the electoral college.

Balance of power.
 
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Tkang_TKD

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kenpo tiger said:
So, you two feel that the electoral college is very important to the election. Well, then I guess the popular vote should be done away with to your way of thinking. It means nothing anyway, right? Those electoral college votes are spoken for prior to the election, if I remember correctly. Besides which, we've been shown what the popular vote is worth by Florida's performance in the last election. So -- exactly how would either of you structure the elections of the future?

I'm hoping we cecede by then.
Let me clarify my postition a bit here. I think that the electoral college works for us NEBRASKANS. I would like to see all other states distribute electoral votes according to the popular vote as well.

That way, each states still gets a more equal vote based on the balance that the electoral college is supposed to give, but also follows the direct votes of the public.

To put it this way, I live in California (Transplanted Military), where the vote will likely favor Kerry (Just like I do). I vote absentee in Nebraska (Where I pay state taxes), and because of the way our Nebraska vote is distributed, my vote for Kerry is likely to help prevent Bush from getting the whole 5 electoral votes for the state.

In California, if I were registered to vote here, would be relatively worthless, because the state is most likely gonna vote Kerry anyway, and he'll get ALL of the electoral votes.
 
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heretic888 said:
The founding fathers were bright enough to establish a compromise: each state's "vote" would be equivalent to a set number (in this case, 2) plus a number based on their population size ---- in this way, the smaller states are still at a disadvantage, but Rhode Island gets twice the votes they would have gotten in a straight popular vote.

This is why we have the two bodies of Congress (one based on equal representation from all states, and one based on population density), and this is why we have the electoral college.

Balance of power.
2 votes out of 538 electoral college members = 0.37% doubling that to 4 yields 0.74%. IMHO that is still just noise when compared to the larger states. My individual vote in a locked state is worth zero under the electoral college. Let's double my current voting power, it is still zero... Kill the electoral college and my vote in Idaho is worth exactly the same as heretic888's.


I may be very closed minded on this issue, but I'm quite irritated that my State's Electoral Vote, the ONLY VOTE THAT COUNTS is already locked for a candidate. I'm just kind of fond of the notion of one man, one vote it appeals on some basic level.

edit:
Speaking of one man, one vote. Most of the founding fathers took that to mean a male property owner; not women nor slaves. Our voting laws have changed to reflect society. Dumping or modifying the electoral college will empower more voters (or at least give current voters true equality). I think the republic would survive.
 
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