Who's voting for the president? Not you. We live in a society where your vote
doesn't directly count during a presidential election. This is due to an antiquated
system called the electoral college. The electoral college (EC) was founded in 1787.
The founding fathers set up the system so that the president is chosen
indirectly. This was done so that "popular passion," wouldn't factor in as much.
Basically they didn't want presidential campaigns to become purely advertisement
campaigns. (third party times)
But there are a few serious flaws in the electoral college that need to be dealt
with. For example, the well known Democratic motto "one man, one vote," (which
means every vote counts) doesn't apply to presidential elections because of the EC.
The electoral college makes it possible for a candidate who wins the popular vote of
the people to lose the presidency. (electoral college)
This has happened exactly 3 times in the past. Once in 1876, and once in
1888, and most recently during the 2000 elections. President Bush lost the popular
vote to candidate Al Gore by over 500,000 votes. Bush still won the presidency
because Florida (a key state in elections) had a last minute change in the electoral
votes. This threw the entire state into a republican vote.
"On two other occasions (1800 and 1824), the House of Representatives
picked the president when nobody won an electoral-college majority. Thomas
Jefferson once described this circumstance as 'the most dangerous blot on our
Constitution.' " (electoral college)
Lawrence P. Longley and Neal R. Pierce, two experts on the electoral college
and Harvard teachers, agree wholeheartedly with Jefferson's statement. They know
full well the weaknesses of the EC. They did some calculations to illustrate this point
further. Californians have over two times as much voting power as do people in
Montana because of the population differences.
Even worse than that is, if even a few votes change in some key states it can
change the whole outcome of an election. e.g. the 2000 Florida elections. There have
been 22 razor close elections in our history one of which was " the 1960 race
between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon--if 8,971 votes in Illinois and Missouri
had switched from Kennedy to Nixon that year, the result would have been an
electoral college deadlock." (electoral college)
Longley and Peirce argue that "it's only a matter of time before it breaks down
completely. The President of the United States is elected indirectly by the electoral
college -- an archaic and quirky system that threatens every four years to overturn
popular will." (electoral college)
To top it all off, the people we choose to vote for the president aren't even
required to keep their pledges. "In 24 states and the district of Columbia, electors are
not bound by any state law or regulation that they vote for the states popular vote
winner." (civic values)
For example in 1988 an elector pledged to Michael Dukakis changed his
pledge to Lloyd Bentsen. Also it happened in 1976 when an elector pledged to
Gerald Ford voted for Ronald Reagan instead. These are just a few of the instances
involving "faithless electors" a term used for electors who change their pledge.
The question is what do we do about these problems? The answer is simple,
we change the EC. (civic values)
There are three basic plans for changing the way the EC works. The first is
called the proportional method. This particular option hasn't been researched as
much as the others. Basically if a candidate receives 58 percent of the popular vote
then they also receive 58 percent of the electoral vote. This reflects popular will and
lets the electors keep their jobs. The problem with this method is that it would require
support from every state. (election reform)
The second is the plan to abolish...
"Electoral College." Web News: Product reviews. 11/9/2003. Harvard Electoral College Experts. Dec. 2000 http://www.webdesk.com/electoral-college/
Third Party Times. The Electoral College System. 1992, League of Womens Voters of California Education fund. http://www.ksg.harvard.edu./case/3pt/electoral.html
Electionreform.org. 2001. Election Reform. http://www.electionreform.org.ERMain/priorities/ec/reform.htm
Civic-Values State Lawmakers Mull Electoral College. Nov.2000.
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