Electoral College: Should it stay or should it go now?

There is an interesting debate over at Helium pertaining to the electoral college.

Tom Koecke says no, and here’s the gist of his argument:

The Electoral College is certainly not a perfect system. It is, however, the best system to make sure that America remains a representative republic by giving rural America representation in Presidential elections.

On the yes side is Roberto Alvarez-Galloso, who maintains that:

Today’s Electoral College is a cumbersome waste of money, time, effort, and just simply a way for Republicans and Democrats to maintain their dictatorial monopoly on power. It is dictatorship disguised as democracy and has been imitated successfully by Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.The solution would be one man, one woman, one vote, and to have ALL Political Parties [excluding racist parties such as the Communists, Nazis, Socialists, and Racists] and Individuals without Political Affiliations to campaign on an equal basis without bias by the media, and the Electoral Commission.It is time to give the Electoral College a dignified ending by abolishing it.

19 Responses to “Electoral College: Should it stay or should it go now?”

  1. Gene Berkman Says:

    The electoral college was created at least partly because in 1787, different states had different qualifications for voting, and those with looser qualifications would have more power in a direct election.

    The electoral college has an additional advantage – in a close race, there would only be a need for a recount in a single state perhaps, whereas a national recount would be unmanageable.

    I do think the electors should be chosen by Congressional District, or by proportional representation, rather than winner-take-all statewide. But no system will make the Presidential race more open to third party contenders.

  2. James Madison Says:

    The Electoral College should stay for sure.

    The central government is tipping the balance of power in the dangerous direction of centralization. The Electoral College preserves state control over presidential elections. The Electoral College is will be far more versatile to deal with unstable poltical conditions that may develop in the future, just as it was able to deal with the civil war. James Madison would shudder in his grave if he knew that someone was trying to monkey with the Electoral College!

  3. Roscoe Says:

    I suppose with the electoral college system, a candidate could completely pander to the voters in the states with a 50% +1 of the electoral votes.
    Without the electoral college, the same candidate could pander to the voters in just the heavily populated states (i.e. fewer states). Let’s stay with the college to keep the pander level down.

  4. Andrew Lane Says:

    In some of the Parliamentary systems of the world it is quite possible to win the most seats (and hence form the government) despite winning fewer votes than an opposing party. This is true of Canada, the UK, Australia, France, etc. So this is not a situation unique to the USA. The best reform would probably be PR in each state since this would make the above scenario less likely.

    I’m fascinated by the contributor who wants to fight democracy by banning parties, i.e. communists, socialists, racists. Who exactly would decide who was communist, socialist or racist? More seriously, who would decide the ballot access laws for a national ballot. I suspect there’d be two names on the ballot every election year (much less confusing for the poor befuddled voter that way don’t you know!).

    The US electoral system has many problems – you folks will know about them better than a foreigner like me – the electoral college set-up seems a rather minor one!

  5. Preston Says:

    I’m completely with Andrew on this one. Besides, how are the communists and socialists racist? Disagree with their politics all you want, but their whole movement is founded on egalitarianism.
    The electoral college does protect rural voters, but I do think its flawed. Every state should do it the way Nebraska does, and divide up the delegates by district. We could avoid potentially messy situations by doing that. For example, if the Democrat wins California by 100 votes, should he/she really get all 55 delegates? I don’t see how that is fair. Same thing with Red States.
    But, as far as Third Party interest, it doesn’t matter. Maybe we should try and start winning regional races before we set our eyes on President.

  6. Ben Says:

    I am much in favour of not only keeping the Electoral College, but returning to the old system where each Congressional district sent its own elector. While the total state vote would send two electors for the whole state, my own Congressional district could send its own elector. An independent candidate may do very well in certain Congressional districts, buit not enough to win any one state.

    Ballot access is a state issue, but I would like to see the states abolish party labels on the ballot. It will be the function of the individual campaigns to make voters aware of party endorsements. I also oppose primaries.

  7. Ghoststrider Says:

    Oh wow, Roberto, great job, you’re for democracy all right—unless they disagree with you.

    Granted, I’m no fan of Communists, Nazis, Socialists, or Racists, but if we start banning political parties, we’re really no longer a democracy. We’re China. (And who knows what that is.)

    I’m really not a big fan of the electoral college either, and in addition to shelving it, we could also go back to the system where the state legislators chose their senators—this would serve as a check against the federal government on behalf of state interests.

  8. Kris Overstreet Says:

    Maine and Nebraska are not proportional-vote states. They grant two statwide winner-take-all electoral votes and one winner-take-all electoral vote for each congressional district.

    For my part, I say keep the electoral college; it provides a modest check against the larger states overrunning the smaller states, and thus helps protect the right of states to experiment with their own solutions to problems of the moment.

  9. Nick Wilson Says:

    Replace the electoral college with primary states in reverse order of size and representation.

  10. Stephen Tash Says:

    Two countries have adopted the Electoral College since the US created it. Both abolished it on the basis of being undemocratic. Essentially it is a system that existed only because of a lack of information available to voters before there were any efficient informational sources and when the states considered their interests to be extremely different from one another. It’s simply an outdated, archaic, and undemocratic system. There are some people who will support the status quo blindly, and they are the ones who support the electoral college.

    Although, I have to say that the guy on the same side as me, Roberto Alvarez-Galloso, is a complete fool. How he figures that socialists are racist is beyond me, unless it has to do with a very specific country he happens to be in. Read the SPUSA platform.

  11. Stephen Tash Says:

    nope, looking at the debate, he’s in the US. Not too bright.

    From the SPUSA Platform:

    People of Color
    The Socialist Party recognizes the intimate link between racism and capitalism and demands the elimination of all forms of discrimination in housing, jobs, education, health care, etc. We are committed to the creation of a pluralistic society that defends and promotes a multicultural/multiethnic presence in both the public and private spheres. The Socialist Party rejects the social construction of race and we commit ourselves to the eradication of racism.

    1. We strongly support affirmative action, civil rights, and anti-discrimination laws and programs to end institutional racism.

    2. We call for reparations from the federal government for its role in the slave trade and the genocide of Native American nations, with the reparations programs administered by the oppressed communities themselves.

    3. We support the efforts of people of color to self-defense, self-determination, and to organize independently for their liberation.

    4. We oppose all efforts to declare English an official language, and call for an end to all language discrimination. We demand that all public and private institutions provide services and materials in the languages of their communities.

    5. We call for enforcement of Native American treaty rights, support for tribal schools and colleges, living wages on Native American reservations, and democratization of power and wealth in tribal governments.

    6. We call for strict legal penalties for the police practice of racial profiling, and we particularly condemn the targeting of Arabs and Muslims since September 11.

    7. We demand an end to police brutality and all forms of harassment against people of color and ethnic minorities.

    That’s a rather strong condemnation of racism.

    We can also look at the Statement of Principles:

    Bigotry and discrimination help the ruling class divide, exploit, and abuse workers here and in the Third World. The Socialist Party works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in all its forms. We recognize the right of self-defense in the face of attacks; we also support non-violent direct action in combating oppression. We fully support strong and expanded affirmative action programs to help combat the entrenched inertia of a racist and sexist system which profits from discrimination and social division.

    People of color, lesbians and gays, and other oppressed groups need independent organization to fight oppression. Racism will not be eliminated merely by eliminating capitalism.

  12. Micah Says:

    Judging from the quoted text, Roberto Alvarez-Galloso is a dolt.

    “The solution would be one man, one woman, one vote, and to have ALL Political Parties [excluding racist parties such as the Communists, Nazis, Socialists, and Racists] and Individuals without Political Affiliations to campaign on an equal basis without bias by the media, and the Electoral Commission.”


    So we’re going to exclude groups from the ballot based on the orthodoxy of their positions – excellent. And who gets to draw that line of demarcation, my friend? Hmmmm?

    Improve your mind

  13. Stephen Tash Says:

    well, he’s also accusing these non-orthodox groups of being racist…... The nazis are obviously racist, as would be any group known as the Racists, but how Communists and Socialists get under there is beyond me.

  14. Hugh Jass Says:

    The electoral college remains the last form of states’ rights we have in this country. Seccession and nullification were “abolished” through Lincoln’s War of Northern Aggression, state appointment of senators was abolished with the 17th Amendment, and the ability of states to make their own laws without federal government interference was abolished through activist judges. Not only should we keep the electoral college, but we should also repeal the 17th Amendment, honor the 9th and 10th Amendments, and allow states to secede from the Union if they disapprove of its actions.

  15. Stephen Tash Says:

    The electoral college in no way is an exercise of states’ rights. It’s similar to a state vanguard, where the state discusses amongst itself who to votes for, then once that decision is made, the entire state votes the same way. That is not any exercise of state rights; state rights is where the state has the right to enact laws which cannot be overridden by the federal government. These rights have remained, the waning state influence comes down to the grab for federal monies that each state takes. In taking the money, you must spend it as required. The states can easily turn down the money, but they see more value in taking that money.

    But I see states rights as a moot issue as well, because people don’t think of themselves as Michiganders or Californians or New Yorkers primarily, but rather as Americans. People see no big issue with moving from one state to another, it’s still the United States. There are fewer and fewer issues where one state feels differently from its neighbors are quickly waning.

    Now, I also want to point out that nullification was never a valid legal precept. Each state gave certain powers to the Federal Government, which the Federal Government exercised. If the state begins to disagree with the actions, I can in most cases accept the idea of secession, but nullification is saying you still have those powers, except when you disagree with us. It’s trying to have the best of both worlds and would have simply made the Federal government completely sterile.

  16. matt Says:

    In the short term, we should keep the electoral college. In the long term, we should switch to a system where the State Legislatures pick the president from a list of people who have demonstrable nationwide support. This support could be shown by reaching a certain level of nationwide petition signatures in a certain number of states.

  17. matt Says:

    Stephen,
    It’s irrelevant how the ‘man on the street’ chooses to self-identify. The fact is that the US exists because a group of states made an agreement and united into a single federation. The agreement was conditional. If the conditions are violated, the aggrieved parties have the right to dissolve it.

  18. Stephen Tash Says:

    it’s relevant since this agreement is in the Constitution, any abolition of the electoral college would mean a change in that agreement by the current generations. As the average person does not identify themselves as primarily members of their state, they view the agreement as simply between themselves and the federal government and thus would not see a necessity for this undemocratic system if they understood exactly how it worked. And I disagree that a bunch of states made the agreement; a bunch of individuals made the agreement who identified strongly with their individual states and thus gave their individual states strong powers.

  19. citizen1 Says:

    I would not replace the electoral college but I would support the congressional district approach.

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