Why the Electoral College Should Be Abolished and Replaced With the Direct Election Voting System
11 – 24 – 2004
Ever since its creation at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the Electoral College has been the most widely debated aspect in the Constitution. There have been over 700 proposed constitutional amendments aimed at fixing or abolishing this process. And Congress has on several occasions held highly publicized hearings on Electoral College reform but overall has remained fairly inactive (Best, p. vii). And while the Electoral College is a cornerstone of our Constitution and therefore a major aspect of American democracy and government, its very nature is quite unfair and undemocratic. Many of its aspects portray biases and favor certain groups of people and certain states. It is deemed archaic, undemocratic, complex, ambiguous, indirect, and dangerous by many scholars and is in direct need of reforming (Kura, p. 30). It especially contradicts Walter Stone’s instrumental voting model for the Electoral College at first makes one believe as if one’s vote counts but eventually one figures out that it is in fact quite unimportant (Stone, p. 51). For with the Electoral College, the people are not in charge but rather the system is – the Electoral College presidential election system that is. And yet with all these negative aspects to it one has to wonder what election system is the best suited for America and the best successor to the Electoral College? In response, I propose that the Electoral College should not be reformed but completely gotten rid of and replaced with a direct election system, where basically the presidency is determined by a popular vote. This way, everybody’s vote counts equally and it is a much fairer and democratic way of electing our president. But before I outline all the problems with the Electoral College and why it needs to be replaced by the direct vote election system, it is necessary to have a brief understanding of where it came from and why it was set up this way.
The Electoral College was created by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia and is a product of 18th century political philosophy and compromise. When the founders established the Constitution they chose to subject elections to rules that inhibited the formation of permanent electoral majorities (Squire, p. 37). This relates back to James Madison’s argument of dispersing power in order to avoid tyranny (Stone, p. 22). For the founders resorted to this indirect election system because they feared those government officials that were too responsive to the wishes of the majority. They believed that if government officials were somewhat insulated from the passions of the public, they would find it easier to protect the rights of the minority and to promote the common good (Squire, p. 38). And so in order to prevent the majority from continuously being able to dominate the minority, they set up indirect elections, specifically, the Electoral College. This Electoral College, set forth by the rules of the Constitution, allowed states to cast electoral votes equal to the number of its senators and representatives. The number of senators is two for every state and the number of representatives depends roughly upon each state’s population. For example, in the 2004 election, California, which has two senators and 53 representatives, cast 55 electoral votes, whereas Wyoming, which has two senators and only one representative, cast only three electoral votes. It is important however to note though that citizens do not technically vote for presidential candidates but rather for electors (Best, p. xi). These electors are collectively known as the Electoral College and are nominated by the party and are pledged to support the candidates of that party (Kura, p. 1). On the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, they travel to their state capitols and cast their ballots...
Cited: Best, Judith A. The Choice of the People? Debating the Electoral College. Maryland:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1996.
Edwards, George C. Why the Electoral College is Bad For America. New Haven: Yale
University Press, 2004.
Kura, Alexandra, ed. Electoral College and Presidential Elections. Huntington, NY: Nova
Science Publishers, 2001.
Squire, Peverill, et. al. Dynamics of Democracy. Cincinnati: Atomic Dog Pub., 2004.
Stone, Walter. Republic at Risk. Santa Barbara: UCSB Bookstore, 1990.
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