Reform of Electoral College

Topics: Voting system, Election, Elections Pages: 6 (2145 words) Published: November 17, 2005
The Electoral College: A Trouble Prone and Undemocratic System The Electoral College is an institution that may have served a purpose 200 years ago when the founding fathers needed a system that would be met with approval by both large and small states. The Electoral College is a flawed method of electing our President that has created problems in previous elections and is likely to be the source of problems in the future. The Electoral College provides an undemocratic method of choosing our president that potentially undermines the will of the voters. Not only can a candidate be elected without actually winning the most votes, it puts our elections at the mercy of electors who don't always cast their vote as pledged. I intend to demonstrate that the problems inherent in this voting method far outweigh any benefits it may provide. Replacing the winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes with a system such as proportional representation or eliminating the college altogether in favor of direct election is the best way to ensure a trouble-free and fair election process. History

The Electoral College was devised in the 1787 Philadelphia Convention as a compromise between large and small states. It was intended to ensure smaller states were not overshadowed by more populated states in the election process. Many believe the system was implemented to act as a buffer between the voters who, were thought to not

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be well informed, and the government (Cohen and Nice 88). Prior to passage of the 12th Amendment, electors cast two votes for president without distinguishing between the president and vice president. The candidate who won the most electoral votes would become president and the runner-up would become vice president. This worked well during the short period when there were no political parties ("Electoral Reform"). The first glitch occurred during the election of 1800 when a tie in the electoral vote resulted between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson, and Congress had to determine the winner. In 1804 the 12th Amendment was passed, requiring electors to cast separate votes for president and vice president.

There is a great deal of debate over why the Electoral College was implemented. Some believe the college was selected with the idea electors would nominate quality candidates for the office with the final decision resting in hands of the House of Representatives; others suggest the electoral process was not thoroughly thought out ("Electoral Reform"). What is known is that small states were opposed to an election process where they would be dominated by the more populated states, mainly in the north. Flaws in the Current System

One of the biggest complaints about the Electoral College is the over representation of less populated states. Representation in the Electoral College is determined by how many representatives a state has in Congress. 435 electoral votes are awarded to each state based on the number of representatives it has, 100 votes for the Brown 3

number of senators, and three votes for the District of Columbia (Kura 15). A byproduct of this method is a voter from a small state tends to have more power than a voter in a large state. In the most recent election the state of Wyoming with its three electoral votes, gave one electoral vote per 164,594 residents. California, by comparison, had 55 electoral votes, resulting in one electoral vote per 615,418 inhabitants (Pearson). In a different example of the overrepresentation of smaller states, the six least populous states and the District of Columbia were compared to a larger state, Pennsylvania. Together the six states and the District of Columbia account for a total of 21 electoral votes. Pennsylvania, with three times the population, has the same number of electoral votes (Holzman). The fact that a voter in a small state can wield almost as much power as four voters in a large state brings into question just how democratic the system...
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