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  1. #1
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    Default Explain the Electoral College System to me

    Title says it all. This seems like the majority of voters are not even counted since the results are final before all states are done voting. Seems shady to me..

    I went to school a long , long time ago and must not have paid attention when we went over this.



  2. #2
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    It's probably easier to do this:
    http://www.insidegov.org/?p=109

    Basically, we vote somewhat like we have representatives and senators. Every state has two senators, and the number of representatives is based on population. So CA has 55 votes in the electoral college, but Rhode Island only 3. The idea is to keep the more populated states from have complete control over the less populated.

    You vote for an elector in your state, who, almost all of the time, votes for the candidate you choose.


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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by candyappy View Post
    Title says it all. This seems like the majority of voters are not even counted since the results are final before all states are done voting. Seems shady to me..

    I went to school a long , long time ago and must not have paid attention when we went over this.
    First, read the Constitution. If the Electoral College is "shady" it's been that way since 1789!

    After you read the Constitution then come back and ask specific questions.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão



  4. #4
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    Default

    The electoral college was implemented to assuage the smaller southern states who though they would lose slavery if the bigger northern states could simply outvote them. It has outlived its usefulness, if there ever was any, by a long way.

    Its time to get rid of it as it is the biggest tool for voter suppression and nullification. I saw recently that the presidential candidates combined have only been in 26 out of the 50 states.
    "I couldn't find my keys, so I put her in the trunk"


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  5. #5
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    The EC was designed so that candidates would spend all their time in no name places like Iowa and Nevada while completely ignoring large population centers like CA, TX and NY.
    It's a great system alright. Small states already are WAAYYY over represented in the Senate, they don't need the EC addded on top. Time it was confined to the political dustbin.
    I would even go one step further and say that a majority should be required for a Presidtental victory, not a plurality. Then you wouldn't have the results you got in 1992, 1996 and 2000, where more people voted for someone other than the guy that got elected.
    Single Transferable Vote is the fairest and proper way to go.
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  6. #6
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    Default

    If you think it's "shady" now, at least we get to vote for the electors these days! Originally, neither electors nor Senators were chosen by popular vote.
    According to the Mayan calendar, the world will not end this week. Please plan your life accordingly.


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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mickey the Marcher View Post
    The EC was designed so that candidates would spend all their time in no name places like Iowa and Nevada while completely ignoring large population centers like CA, TX and NY.
    Um, no. That is an unintentional result of the system. Since only NY of those you listed was a state (or even part of our territory) when the EC was written into the Constitution and since it was Not Done for candidates to campaign on their own behalf until very recently (especially since there wasn't a popular vote that mattered for anything until about the 1820s or so), this was not the case. The whole point of the EC and Senatorial elections was to remove as much of the federal selection process as possible from the unwashed masses. We got the House of Representatives.

    Candidates got to the places that are up for grabs. While I can remember CA being competitive, it's been a while. If demographic trends continue, TX and AZ may get to experience the joy swing states like FL, VA, and OH experience every four years in the next decade or so.

    Fit, I believe you are thinking of the Great Compromise which set up a bicameral legislature, one arm of which was selected based on population (including 3/5 of each slave) and one arm of which had equal representation.



    ETA: and unless I'm missing something, the winner (Bill Clinton) in 1992 and 1996 won the most votes of any candidate. Granted it was a plurality, but he didn't lose the popular vote like Bush did in 2000.
    According to the Mayan calendar, the world will not end this week. Please plan your life accordingly.


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  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mickey the Marcher View Post
    The EC was designed so that candidates would spend all their time in no name places like Iowa and Nevada while completely ignoring large population centers like CA, TX and NY.
    It's a great system alright. Small states already are WAAYYY over represented in the Senate, they don't need the EC addded on top. Time it was confined to the political dustbin.
    I would even go one step further and say that a majority should be required for a Presidtental victory, not a plurality. Then you wouldn't have the results you got in 1992, 1996 and 2000, where more people voted for someone other than the guy that got elected.
    Single Transferable Vote is the fairest and proper way to go.
    In a simplistic way, yes, the majority vote seems correct.

    BUT, a candidate could pick a few states with the highest populations, promise those citizens the world and win the election. Therefore, leaving states with the smaller populations no say whatsoever in the election.


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by loshad View Post


    ETA: and unless I'm missing something, the winner (Bill Clinton) in 1992 and 1996 won the most votes of any candidate. Granted it was a plurality, but he didn't lose the popular vote like Bush did in 2000.
    It is generally accepted that the vast majority of Ross Perot voters in 1992 (when he got a whopping 20% of the vote) would have voted for Bush Snr had it been a two way race. Perot cost Bush the election. The majority of people that election, i.e 57%, DID NOT VOTE for the guy that won the election.
    Likewise in 2000, almost all Nader votes would have gone to Gore.
    One of these years a strong Third Party/Independent candidate is going to run and the vote will likely get split 3 ways and you'll have a situation where 2/3s of the country didn't vote for the guy that gets the White House.
    That is unacceptable in a modern democracy.

    STV (Single Transferable Vote), allows people to vote for 3rd party candidates without feeling that they wasted their vote, as their vote transfer to their 2nd (or 3rd/4th/5th etc) choice if their candidate is eliminated for lack of votes.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntertwo View Post
    In a simplistic way, yes, the majority vote seems correct.

    BUT, a candidate could pick a few states with the highest populations, promise those citizens the world and win the election. Therefore, leaving states with the smaller populations no say whatsoever in the election.
    Of course they would have a say. Every vote counts equally, so a vote in Iowa would be worth as much as one in CA.
    Sure all the campaigning would happen in LA, SF, Dallas, Houston, NY etc, but that makes logical sense as that is WHERE MOST OF THE PEOPLE LIVE.
    What other nation in the world do you know of where they main population centers/financial centers/industrial and economic powerhouses are pretty much ignored?
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by loshad View Post
    Um, no. That is an unintentional result of the system. Since only NY of those you listed was a state (or even part of our territory) when the EC was written into the Constitution and since it was Not Done for candidates to campaign on their own behalf until very recently (especially since there wasn't a popular vote that mattered for anything until about the 1820s or so), this was not the case. The whole point of the EC and Senatorial elections was to remove as much of the federal selection process as possible from the unwashed masses. We got the House of Representatives.
    .
    I know, I was being facetious.
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  12. #12
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    Default

    Useless? Outdated? Archaic? Being abused by politicians? Should be dissolved?

    EVERY SINGLE VOTE of EVERY PERSON should be counted, not a 'majority'...EVERY vote....
    "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.


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  13. #13
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    The Electoral College was adopted for two reasons:

    First, it's a protection against a "demagogue." The Founders were men with classical educations and knew about the likes of Alcibiades and Gaius Flaminius.* The Electoral College has no Federal duty to follow the popular vote of a State.

    Right now it's a "winner take all" proposition in a State, but there have been periodic reforms proposed that would credit each Elector to a single Congressional district and then two electors from each State. The District Elector would be required to follow the popular vote from that District and the two at the State level would vote with the popular vote of the State as a whole.

    Second, the Electoral College means finality. The Founders were aware of the problems of "mass democracy" particularly in the highly rural early United States. Under the Constitution as written the election was in November, the Electoral College met in January, and inauguration was in March. Once the Electoral College meets and votes it's done. Finality was considered a higher value than a truly "democratic" result. We might argue with this in light of modern thought but that's what the Founding Fathers thought.

    IMO the two reasons for the Electoral College are as valid today as they were in 1787. I would not object of an alteration of the "winner take all" approach. It would end the "circus" we see today where the huge bulk of campaign efforts go to a half dozen "battleground" states and the rest are functionally ignored.

    G.

    *For modern examples think about Nikolai Lenin, Father Coughlin, Benito Mussolini, or Joe McCarthy.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


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  14. #14
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    Another way to consider the EC issue is seeing two wolves and a sheep deciding to vote on lunch. Pure democracy says the sheep is lunch. The small states (in population) are the sheep.



  15. #15
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    So, maybe we should have pure democracy, and the all that wonderful capitalism and let the sheep get eaten. That would mean N.C., Rhone Island, New Jersey, CN, Maine, NH, Wyoming, etc. would get eaten by CA, Texas, NY.

    It's all fair, right?



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by loshad View Post

    ETA: and unless I'm missing something, the winner (Bill Clinton) in 1992 and 1996 won the most votes of any candidate. Granted it was a plurality, but he didn't lose the popular vote like Bush did in 2000.
    Prior to the 2000 election, while the proportional results of EC versus Popular Vote were often drastically different, they were reflective of the actual majority vote winner for more than a century. You'd have to go back to the 1870s, when the process was a bit different, to find otherwise. The National Archives has results available in a nice table form, all the way back to the very first election, and if you'd like a visual, that's avilable elsewhere, too

    Not all states are winner take all in the Electoral College system, either. Both Maine and Nebraska have proportional representation, based on their congressional districts. If other states wanted to do this, they can do it legislatively at the state level, but then you run into a lot of gerrymandering issues.

    Personally, I think direct election is a great idea, but with the notable exception of 2000, the outcomes of the elections would NOT have been changed for 125 years if we'd had direct election instead of the Electoral College system.
    Last edited by JenEM; Nov. 5, 2012 at 12:40 PM. Reason: When typing in the middle of a 12 hour shift, the word NOT can easily be overlooked, despite totally changing the meaning.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JenEM View Post
    Prior to the 2000 election, while the proportional results of EC versus Popular Vote were often drastically different, they were reflective of the actual majority vote winner for more than a century. You'd have to go back to the 1870s, when the process was a bit different, to find otherwise. The National Archives has results available in a nice table form, all the way back to the very first election, and if you'd like a visual, that's avilable elsewhere, too

    Not all states are winner take all in the Electoral College system, either. Both Maine and Nebraska have proportional representation, based on their congressional districts. If other states wanted to do this, they can do it legislatively at the state level, but then you run into a lot of gerrymandering issues.

    Personally, I think direct election is a great idea, but with the notable exception of 2000, the outcomes of the elections would have been changed for 125 years if we'd had direct election instead of the Electoral College system.
    A couple of thoughts:

    If you do away with the Electoral College then, in a disputed election, the outcome will be decided by the Judiciary. This would be the absolutely least possible democratic outcome as there is not one, elected Federal judge/justice. Remember the "firestorm" in 2000 when the Supreme Court did just that.

    The U.S. is NOT a "democracy." It's a "republic." The Constitution says so by it's order of business and specifically guarantees a "republican" form of government to each State. Further, the Constitution recognizes that the States have the power to determine electoral status. This power is modified by the 14th Amendment but is still, fundamentally, a local issue.

    I've got no heartburn with proportional representation in the Electoral College (either by geographic district or some other formula). There's not a State in the Union that's not "gerrymandered" in some way.

    I would have "heartburn" with a mandate that an Elector may only vote for the candidate with the most votes. That would eliminate one of the reasons for the existence of the Electoral College. IMO that would be bad Public Policy.

    The U.S. Constitution is there to organize the Federal Government. The Federal Government is a government of "limited jurisdiction." It may only do what the Constitution permits it to do. States are governments of "general jurisdiction" and can do what they wish, only limited by their Constitutions and the Federal Bill of Rights as applied to the States by the 14th Amendment. Put another way, constitutions are there to organize and restrict governmental activities; to "put the brakes", if you will.

    This general philosophy drove events in 1787 and ought to drive them now.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


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