Changing the Electoral College

Topics: Election, President of the United States, Elections Pages: 15 (4877 words) Published: November 26, 2005
The Electoral College, as it is outlined in the 12th Amendment, is a body of electors chosen to elect the President and Vice President of the United States. It is a controversial mechanism of presidential elections that was created by the framers of the U.S. Constitution as a compromise for the a failed presidential election process in the election of 1800. The founders believed a pure democracy was too reckless, while others objected to giving Congress the power to select the president. The compromise was to set up an Electoral College system that allowed voters to vote for electors, who would then cast their votes for candidates, a system described in Article II, section 1 of the Constitution. In this system the electors are granted the discretion to vote for the candidate that they choose, but in practice the electors vote for the candidate that wins the most votes in their repective states. [21] In all the states except Nebraska and Maine, the candidate that wins a plurality of the popular votes wins all of the state's electoral votes. [23] Because of recent divergence of the popular vote and the electoral vote, many people believe that the Electoral College should be reformed for a more proportinally representative system or abolished in favor of direct elections.

The 2000 Presidential Election sparked criticism of the Electoral College because the majority winner of the popular vote, former Vice President Al Gore, lost the election in the Electoral College. This happened as a result of an aspect of the electoral system that is not mandated in the Constitution; how to distribute the votes in the state. It is customary that the states award the winner of the popular vote in the state all of the states electoral votes. Therefore, it makes no difference if a candidate wins a state by 50.1% or by 99% of the vote; the same amount of votes are awarded. This leads to candidates winning some states by large pluralities and losing others by a small number of votes; a likely scenario for one candidate to win the popular vote while another wins the electoral vote. This winner take all methods used in picking electors has been decided by the states themselves because nowhere in the Twelfth Amendment is their an article providing for how states should cast their votes.

Many believe that the Electoral College is undemocratic because it sometimes disobeys the wishes of the majority of voters. These critics claim that the system is anachronistic and disregards the votes of millions of voters. Conversely, some argue that the Electoral College secures democracy and the principle of federalism, as it was outline in the United States Constitution.

The opposition to the electoral system is built upon a false understanding of democracy. The founding fathers outlined a federal government that is governend by the states rather than directly by the people. They designed the Constitution, keeping in mind the federal principle and creating a federal democracy of the states. Accordingly, the Electoral College should not be reformed or abolished.

History and Background
At the time of it's creation, the United States consisted of 13 large and small states that strived to protect their own rights and powers and strived to avoid a central national government from growing too powerful. There were 4,000,000 people spread up and down one-thousand miles of the Atlantic seaboard, barely connected by transporatation or communication. [28] Information about Presidential candidates was not available at the click of a button, candidates were not able to fly state-to-state, city-to-city to debate their platforms and advertise their ideals. Whether desired or not, national campaigns were impractical, and the Electoral College was established.

The Electoral College was created for two fundemenatal reasons as well. The first purpose was to separate pure democracy and the choosing of a President. While members of...
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