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Abolish the Electoral College

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Ellie Waite

on 21 February 2013

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Transcript of Abolish the Electoral College

Ellie Waite
Faith Lutheran High School
US Government
2/9/13 What is the Electoral College? Different Methods Thesis Statement Underlying Problems The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors and the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice President. It consists of 538 electors and a majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Each state has a different number of electoral votes based on the population (each state starts out with three, and it increases from there). The District of Columbia, although not a state, is also given three votes (U. S. Electoral College, 2013). Most states use a "winner-take-all" method that gives all of that states electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. Another method is used in Maine and Nebraska -- a variation on the "proportional representation" method. In this method, the state's initial three electoral votes are distributed proportionately based on the Congressional districts and the winner of the state wide popular vote receives the remaining two electoral votes (U.S Elector College, 2013). The Electoral College should be changed or abolished, as it is a pointless process and it does not allow for the citizens themselves to vote for the president, but instead having them vote on a group of people to vote for them. In the event of a tie (with no candidate winning a majority of the electoral votes), the presidential vote is deferred to the House of Representatives and the vice presidential vote is deferred to the Senate. This creates several issues. First, the public opinion is almost completely disregarded. These representatives and senators are not obligated to vote with their states majority if they disagree. So the citizens are not truly voting for the presidents, but only a few chosen ones. Second, if the House of Representatives and the Senate reflect different majorities, then the United States could end up with conflicting President and Vice President. This opposition in the presidential office would not be good for the stability of the country or the government; plus, little to nothing would get accomplished (FairVote, 2013). Underlying Problems Abolish the Electoral College "Faithless Elector" Tie The political parties, or independent candidates, submit a list of individuals pledged to their candidate for president to each state. Each state's list would be different, as not every state has the same number of Electors or the same people. Based on the method in each state (winner-take-all or the variation on the "proportional representation"), the aforementioned individuals are selected as Electors. Although these electors are pledged to their respective candidate, they are not obligated to vote for them. This is the case of the "Faithless Elector". In a close election, if enough electors voted for the candidate they were not pledged to, then the election could turn out completely different than expected with the popular vote (Bennett, 2006). Underlying Problems If one of the electors is "faithless", or doesn't vote for the candidate he is pledged to, then various measures are taken. The problem is that each state regards such loyalty differently. Some states have statutory provisions that "bind" electors to vote in accordance with their previous commitments. For example, North Carolina has a fine of $500 for faithlessness whereas New Mexico regards it as a "fourth degree felony." Some laws require political parties to have their electors pledged to them while others have state officials compose and administer oaths of faithfulness. Finally, some states have decided that a faithless vote calls for resignation from the office of elector. Thus, some electors are forced to be faithful while others or not, thus having an impact on the election (Bennett, 2006). Laws on Loyalty Changes or Solutions Variations Another option is to have every state use one of two variations on the proportional method, with every state using the same variation. The first option is using the same method employed by Maine and Nebraska currently. In this method, the first three electoral votes are distributed, proportionately, based on the Congressional Districts. The remaining votes are given to the popular vote winner. In this method, the people have more of a voice than in the winner-take-all method; however, they still are not heard as much as they would be if the United States abolished the electoral college. The second variation was proposed in Virginia. The first three votes would be distributed the same as in the first, by Congressional district. However, the difference lies with the remaining votes -- they would be distributed to whichever candidate won in the most Congressional District. In this option, the Congressional districts have more of a voice than the people who live there (State, 2013). Importance This topic is important because it affects one of the most important aspects about the United States -- that the citizens can elect their own President. But after looking at various opinions, one must decide: Do we really? Do the citizens votes have a significant enough impact, or are our votes like the buttons at crosswalks, the ones that don't do anything but make the person feel like the did something (Noah, 2012)? Solution Of all of the solutions, the best is to simply abolish the electoral college. It is no longer necessary because of today's media and ease of travel. Abolishing the electoral college also prevents faithless electors and the minority popular candidate from winning the election overall. While the other two changes do make the system more fair, abolishing it completely would solve the problem. Whatever the decision, all states should use the same method to ensure each vote is equal to the rest Thus... Something needs to be done about the electoral college, whether it is simply making changes to the process or abolishing it completely. In this day and age, it is unnecessary and pointless. In 1787, it helped ensure that the people did not make a decision without all of the facts. However, we no longer need that protection. Today, it causes more problems than it fixes. Apposing Views Minority Interests Some people believe that the electoral college enhances the status of minority groups because the voters of even small minorities in a State may make the difference between winning all, or none, of that State's electoral. Ethnic minority groups in the United States happen to concentrate in State's with the most electoral votes, so they can be very important to the candidates. (The same idea applies also to other special interest groups, such as labor unions, farmers, environmentalists, etc.) Thus, people believe that because these groups can really affect the outcome of an election by affecting the electoral votes, abolishing the electoral college would damage minority interests because their votes would be overwhelmed by a national popular majority (Kimberling, W.C., 2013). Apposing Views Government and Representation Those who believe in the electoral college also believe it maintains a federal system of government and representation. They reason that in a formal federal structure, important political powers are reserved to the component States. For example, The House of Representatives was created to represent States in the federal government proportionately, based on population. The Senate, on the other hand, represents each state equally, regardless of its population. Finally, the Electoral College was thus created to represent each state in the presidential election. These people think that by abolishing the electoral college we would strike at the very heart of the federal structure laid out in our Constitution and would lead to the nationalization of our central government -- to the detriment of the States (Kimberling, W.C., 2013). Apposing Views Two Party System It is extremely difficult for a new or minor party to win enough popular votes in enough States to have a chance at winning the presidency. The Electoral College protects the presidency from third party movements and virtually forces third party movements into one of the two major political parties. The major parties have every incentive to absorb minor party movements in their effort to win popular majorities. Third party movements are forced to compromise their more radical views if they hope to gain any of their more objectives. If the electoral college were abolished, then there would be a multitude of minor parties to form to prevent popular majority candidates form winning. The remaining candidates would be regionalist and/or extremist and that in no way would be good for the United States (Kimberling, W.C., 2013). Changes or Solutions Abolish One option is to completely abolish the Electoral College. The President and Vice President would be chosen completely by the popular vote. In 1787, when the Constitution was written, it was difficult for candidates to travel around the country, giving speeches and getting votes. The Electoral College was created to prevent too many people voting for someone they didn't completely understand. However, candidates can now travel across the country quickly and easily, let alone reach millions more people at one time due to the media. The Electoral College is not needed to provide educated representatives to vote for the people of their state. The citizens themselves can gather the information and make an informed decision on there own determining who they believe should run their country (The US Electoral College, 1944). Changes or Solutions Proportional Representation Completely abolishing the Electoral College may seem a bit extreme, so another option is simply changing the method, nationwide, to a proportional representations. In this method, each state would divide up its electoral votes based on the popular vote. This is similar to Maine or Nebraska's method, except that all of the votes would be proportionate, rather than just three. This would more clearly represent the citizens opinions and votes. With this method, the minority party would still be taken into an account, instead of giving all of the votes to the popular winner. However, there still remains the problem of the faithless elector. Just because the electors are more closely resembling the people's opinion, does not mean the electors are required to vote as such (State, 2013). Debate: Abolish the Electoral College | Debate.org. (n.d.). The Premiere Online Debate Website | Debate.org . Retrieved February 12, 2013, from http://www.debate.org/debates/Abolish-the-Electoral-College/1/
Noah, T. (2012). Majority Rules. New Republic, 243(1), 2.
The U.S. Electoral College--Historic Stormy Petrel. (1944). Congressional Digest, 23(6/7), 178-179.
FairVote.org | Problems with the Electoral College. (n.d.). FairVote.org | Home. Retrieved February 12, 2013, from http://www.fairvote.org/problems-with-the-electoral-college/#5
Kimberling, W. C. (n.d.). The Electoral College - Pros and Cons. The Electoral College. Retrieved February 12, 2013, from http://uselectionatlas.org/INFORMATION/INFORMATION/electcollege_procon.php
U. S. Electoral College, Official - What is the Electoral College?. (n.d.). National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved February 12, 2013, from http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html
state. (n.d.). Electoral College (United States). Wikipedia. Retrieved February 12, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States)#Congressional_District_Method References (The US Electoral College, 1944).
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