Friday, November 11, 2016

Why do we have an Electoral College?

















First, let's look at facts.

In the U.S.A. we do not elect presidents by popular vote. We elect electors who then cast their vote for the candidate. The number of Electoral College votes in each state is based on the total number of U.S. representatives and U.S. senators.

The 2016 presidential electoral results map shows you how the electors in each state will cast their votes. The red states represent where the Republican, Donald Trump will receive all the elector votes and the blue states indicate where the Democrat, Hillary Clinton will receive those votes. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win. Many are upset because it looks like Hillary Clinton will earn more popular votes--and this isn't the first time this has happened (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000).

So why do we have an electoral college if we don't elect the person who earned all the votes? The Electoral College was created by the writers of the constitution, and while we may think this is an antiquated vote against democracy, let's take a closer look.

First, our nation is not a democracy. Our country is a constitutional republic. The Electoral College was put in place, partly, to protect the nation from a "tyranny of the majority". Pure democracies have been likened to "two wolves and a lamb deciding what's for dinner." You can see how that wouldn't work for the lamb.

Not every reason for the Electoral College was a good one. The New York Times reminds voters,"Above all, some historians point to the critical role that slavery played in the formation of the system. Southern delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, most prominently James Madison of Virginia, were concerned that their constituents would be outnumbered by Northerners. The Three-Fifths Compromise, however, allowed states to count each slave as three-fifths of a person — enough, at the time, to ensure a Southern majority in presidential races." Why would we do this? In the early days of our republic, we needed the slave-holding states in order to fight (and win) the Revolutionary War that created this country.

There are other reasons too, chief among them was that "The founding fathers sought to ensure that residents in states with smaller populations were not ignored."

The avoidance of pure majority rule is also why the United States has three branches of government, the legislative, judicial, and executive; a senate with two representatives from each state no matter the population; and a legislature with representation based solely on population.

So why was this important and why do some believe this is still important today? First, a candidate has to build a nationwide coalition to earn the most electoral college votes. The writers of the constitution believed it would make presidents more moderate and diverse. Secondly, if we lived in a pure democracy, candidates would only need to go to the largest cities in order to win the presidency. In other words, why would you need to be moderate or diverse, if you just needed three states?

But there are ways to change the way electoral college votes are cast. "Some states have discussed a possibility that would not necessarily require amending the Constitution: jettisoning the winner-take-all system, in which a single candidate is awarded all of a state’s electoral votes — regardless of the popular vote — and instead apportioning them to reflect the breakdown of each state’s popular vote. Two states, Maine and Nebraska, already do this."

In order to get rid of, or specifically change the Electoral College, we would need to amend the constitution, and to do that we would need a supermajority in congress and 3/4 of the states would have to approve the move. Thirteen small states would ALWAYS block this 3/4 approval to eliminate the Electoral College.

What do you think about changing the way Electoral College votes are cast? How could we create a system where everyone's voice was heard from the smallest town to the largest city?

29 comments:

  1. First of all, I just want to start with this past election was just horrible and just full of itself if you know what I mean. Although it is really awful its the reality of the U.S. for the next four year and only four hopefully. I don't think that changing the way Electoral College votes are casted because having it that way ensures that every single state in the U.S. has a vote/voice in the national election. Meaning that whether you live in a population that is big or small your vote will matter in the end. So getting rid of the Electoral College vote might not be the best idea because it will throw out those living in small populations but then again I feel that elections are riged and the people in charge call it evening out scores to make it fair. P.s. I hope I got an understanding of the article and wrote about it in this post.

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  2. The Electoral College is an important system to make sure that even the smallest states get a say in the election but It is definitely far from perfect. It would make more sense if all the states divided their votes like Iowa does. It still keeps the Electoral College system so all states don't get steam rolled by states such as California and it will make citizens states like CA to feel like they have more of a say in the election and that their vote actually matters. This article overall mostly affirmed my assumption on the importance of the Electoral College.

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  3. In future US History courses, if they happen to discuss elections, 2016 is one that we will have to skip discussion on. Many people were upset by this election's result since the popular vote was won by Hillary Clinton, but the electoral votes went to Donald Trump. Personally, an Electoral College should be removed and elections should go by the popular vote. The people's votes are meaningless if election results are not by the people. It wont be easy to remove the Electoral College since it is part of the Constitution and it will require 3/4 of the 50 states to remove. The Electoral College will officially cast votes again on December 19, and we will then see who will be President as guaranteed.

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  4. The Electoral College is antiquated because it still refers to our past history in terms of where slavery existed. Regardless if our of founding fathers wrote it, we have still found similar cases where someone won the popular vote, while the other won the 270 votes. So why do we have such an antiquated system when the Electoral College does not represent whom the people voted for?

    If the United States is a constitutional republic, why are we – the people – set to believe that we are a democracy? Despite the fact that the Electoral College was to help prevent tyranny, we need to keep in mind that there is no perfect system. It does not matter if it is an Oligarchy, Anarchy, Democracy and so on, but each system has its inevitable flaws.

    Instead of considering a change in our government, our presidents should be required to have some political background. The message our Pre-elect president gave to all the audience members was “no experience, no problem because I became president” or however you want to interpret his actions. It is a shame that for us, students are sometimes required to earn a Masters or Doctorate’s degree with experience to attain our dream job.

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  5. Without the electoral college every election would be determined by California, Texas and New York. People that are upset with this election are only looking at the popular vote but completely ignoring the rest of the country that is in red. Do those People not matter? Should California decide every president? Our founding fathers chose this system as a compromise between allowing congress to chose the president and a popular vote. People need to understand that the voices of those in the red states matter. California isn't the only state and shouldn't be the sole decider on every election. The system is fine the way it is.

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  6. I believe that changing the way that Electoral College voters are cast would be good and bad. It would be good because it could potentially mean that we the people get to actually choose our president rather than have someone we didn't vote for appointed to us. The bad thing is that smaller states wouldn't be able to vote because of the change. Creating a system where everyone's voices should be heard is going to be hard but I believe that we should remove the Electoral College and let the people decide because the Electoral College votes on people who they think is best and don't take into account the people's vote.

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  7. Changing the electoral college will be a good thing because we the people would be able to choose are president instead of one being appointed to us. This past election has been real tuff on everyone since Trump wants to make massive changes within are nation. Which affects people of color. So it would be good because we will have a president that treats everyone as equal. With every good there is a bad, the bad part about changing the electoral college is that the much smaller states would not vote but i don't see that bad because they are mostly republican but the votes that wil matter are the bigger states like California, Texas, Florida, New York. But every states voice should be heard just not the biggest ones. If it could only California should matter but all the little red states matter too and that is why we have an electoral college.

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  11. ( This comment is for, "What happens when work is a thing of the past?" but it will not let me post there.)

    For me personally, I would love this life. Dance is my passion and if I could spend all my time doing that then I would be in paradise. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks like me and a society ran off of universal basic income would probably end up in the world collapsing. When I read this article I couldn't help but think about a scene from "WALL-E" where humans are immensely over weight, and unmotivated to do anything at all ( even walk because they have a hover bed for that). I believe if there is no motive to do anything then people wont. Most likely, humans will become increasingly more uneducated while a small percent of people control the economy. I just think having robots do all work is just a bad idea through and through because in my opinion humans strive and reach their full potential when they want something that can only be achieved through hard work.

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  12. I think that the Electoral College already evens out the votes, since as said earlier by Michael Ibarra, without it really only a couple of states would decide who would become president, as they are more densely populated. The city of San Francisco itself in California has more residents than the whole state of Wyoming. Before when the founding fathers were deciding how votes would be counted, the small states said they would not get enough representation since their population was so small while big states were absolutely fine for just population popular votes. To compromise, we adopted both the popular vote and the electoral college vote to decide who becomes president.

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  13. I feel that the way the votes are cast now is fine. People have their say, and if they want to change what the majority thinks they need to actually get out and vote. Counting every single persons vote would take too much time. If you did it that way, only the big states would be choosing and the smallest states wouldn't even be noticed because we drown their voices with all of ours. It's important for everyone to vote, especially smaller swing states. In california, we've always been democratic so it's not as big of a deal. Votings easier than ever, you can do it by mail so you avoid the lines and there's even ballot drop boxes so you don't have to pay for postage. There's really no excuse why people shouldn't be voting.

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  14. I never really understood why the electoral college exists, but after reading this post, I realized how important it is. It is a good way to keep small states to have the same rights as the big states, but I think the president should just be elected based on the popular vote. America is supposed to be a democracy so the people should be the ones that decide who should win. It discourages people to go out and vote because it makes them feel like their voices aren't even heard. This past election more people then ever voted, but the result still upset the majority of the country. The electoral college is a thing o the past when slavery was around and I think it's time to come up with a better method of choosing a president.

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  15. After the most recent election, I felt that popular vote should've determined who would be president. Personally, I would not mind if the electoral college was removed, but that is because the state of California has a huge population and that gives us an advantage in the election. I can see why smaller states would be against removing the system. Getting rid of the electoral college would make smaller states feel that they are not heard and that their votes do not matter.

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  16. From what I have observed, I think there are many who want each individual count to vote. From the results of the presidential race, there has been controversies on the individuals who voted for Trump and Hillary. If we were to look at things statistically, there was a diversity among the votes. Many minorities actually voted for Hillary, and those who were young adults to mid aged had as well. For Trump, there were less minorities and those who were older had voted for him. There was also a gender gap which most women voted for Hillary. I believe that there can be a system created where we can distinguish every individual vote throughout ones city. For example who is in charge of the voting polls, we can get many volunteers who can separate the votes. Each city has a community, and a higher power in which can work if we were able to count each vote.

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  17. The electoral vote at first feels like it is a good idea but then if the popular vote is for is against the electoral vote then there is where the problem rises. America is suppose to be a democracy so we have to support what others think. and in the case of this election there will always be a side that is not happy.I feel like the people who voted for trump where not minorities and older Americans while the people who voted for Hillary where young adults and mostly minorities.

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  18. I think it's unfair to everyone who voted for the election, whether they are democratic or republican. If Hillary would've won the election or Trump, the citizens vote/voice wouldn't count due to the fact of electoral vote. What's the point of asking people to vote, if the only votes that really do count is the states reps? The winner of any election should be based on popular vote and not electoral vote. People register to vote because they want their voice to count, they want to be heard and get what they want. But if elections is only based on what states' reps want, then there's no point in encouraging citizens to vote.

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  19. I never really understood why choosing the president was based off of electoral votes rather than popular votes because I always thought since we the people had the right to vote and voice our opinions, it would matter. Tons of people say that going out to vote doesn't even really matter because the presidential election is based off of electoral votes anyway. In which I somewhat agree with to an extent. It's the people choice who we want to elect in the primary so I feel as if since people have been complaining about the election, more people should have voted in the primaries rather than complain and do nothing. But now, I understand using the electoral votes and why it's how we chose our presidents. It's only fair to smaller states to have to same amount of votes as the bigger states and it be all equal.

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  20. The electoral college is inherently an undemocratic institution. It is meant to be way to stop demagogues and to some extent to keep the status quo. I feel that the electoral college has failed America by electing such a person as Donald Trump, who is using various fascistic tactics such as focusing anger at a specific group or groups and economic favoritism. Economic favoritism is for example shown in that Donald Trump did not ban Saudi Arabia in his recent executive order. Donald Trump has business dealings with Saudi Arabia(https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/30/saudi-arabia-egypt-excluded-from-trumps-ban).

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  21. The Electoral College has been a hot topic of recent controversy especially after the elections this past November. I thought it was interesting that this country really is not a democracy, rather it is a constitutional republic. Many people in this country do not realize that and became upset about Donald Trump winning the presidency while Hillary Clinton earned a larger amount of the popular vote. However, because of the electoral college, it becomes difficult for people to vote since their vote is not taken into account and just stay home and watch the results in November.

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  22. After the 2016 election many people have been questioning the electoral college as to whether or not this is the best system to elect our presidential candidate. When looking on past elections such as the 2000 election or the most recent election people have been lobbying for the presidential election to be voted on a popular vote rather than an electoral vote which could be less distinguishable. The electoral college allows every state a fair vote within the process of the election, if we resorted to a popular vote the presidency would come down to major cities that populate a large portion of the country such as Los Angeles or New York. The electoral college gives a fair representation for every state in the country and should remain the primary voting structure to determine the presidency.

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  23. The Electoral College is a rather outdated system that was created to help smaller states have a similar impact on the elections. Which at the time was created was needed now the electoral college in the past 5 elections 2 of the candidates have lost despite having the popular vote. We also have to take into account is that not everyone votes which could cause a skew in results and make the electoral college less effective.

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  24. The electoral college is a needed system to maintain stability within the election. In more recent events I wish that the electoral college was taken away but they are here for a reason. The electoral college allows every state to have representation. I believe that citizens should still be able to have the choice and voice on who they want to be their president. What is the point of having the right to vote if it is not considered?

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  26. The electoral college has definitely become a controversy after the election that passed, when Hillary won the popular vote by 3million against Trump. However, she still did not become the president since she did not win the electoral college votes. In a sense the electoral college is outdated and should have more contingencies, so that people don't feel as though their votes don't count. I feel that if a presidential nominee wins the popular vote over a certain number the electoral college should consider that into their votes. Like hello, clearly a larger number of Americans want that person as their president, and we are a so called "democracy".

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  27. The Electoral College has failed to reflect the will of the american people twice within the span of twenty years. With the original intention of the College being to eliminate the possibility of a demagouge being elected into the office, the most recent election has proven to otherwise be incompetent. This may be due in part to the highly divisive nature of the Political landscape of the USA currently. Another aspect of this was that the founding fathers did not have faith in the american people to be well informed upon the issues to vote for who truly best fit the job, this is simply not true anymore. with increased access to information with the developments of television, the internet, smart phone, etc. we have been able to become well informed and better abeled to vote with competence.

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  28. I believe the Electoral college should stay the same. The Electoral college has been working for many years and I believe it could just be improved. If the Electoral College is removed big countries would have most of the say and leave out what smaller countries think.

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  29. I think you said it yourself, our country's system of checks and balances already goes pretty far to ensure that everyone's voice is heard (at least in terms of what state you're from...and probably only then). Two senators from each state means that even small ones have an equal say in national matters.
    The current Electoral College system, again as stated in the article, was founded on corrupt and racist principles masked in democratic fairness. This should be all the more alarming after the last election and the little known fact that when accounting for population vs. Electoral votes per state, Californians votes are worth 3/5ths of that of someone from South Dakota. So basically, liberal California's 40 million votes have the same political power as our nation's originally disenfranchised slaves. The Electoral College disenfranchises voters of the most populated, most diverse states and hands that power to the least populated, diverse and tolerant, most poorly educated, and most fundamentally religious areas of our country. This in itself is probably a huge part of why legislative progress has been so easily halted and reversed since the 2000 election, even while our culture seems to have made significant strides during the same timespan.
    The Electoral College has gotta go.

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