What is the Electoral College?

[ Replies to this Post ] [ Post a Reply ] [ Soap Box ] [ exFamily.org Home ]

Posted by Inside-out on October 12, 2008 at 19:48:59

In Reply to: Re: sure is complicated posted by Inside-out on October 12, 2008 at 19:45:02:

Voters in each state choose among slates of electors pledged to one candidate or another. These electors - collectively called the Electoral College - in turn cast their votes to pick the president.

Each state receives the number of electoral votes equal to the number of its members of the House of Representatives, which depends on the state's population, and the number of its senators, which is always two.

So, for example, Florida has 25 electoral votes, because it has 23 members of the House and two senators. California has the most electoral votes, with 54. No state gets any fewer than three electoral votes. The District of Columbia also has three electoral votes.

In 48 states, and in the District of Columbia, it is a winner-take-all system: The winner of the popular vote in a given state receives all of that state's electoral votes.

Let's take, for example, the state of Texas (with 32 electoral votes). This election, Bush won 66% of the total vote, Gore won 33% of the total vote. Because of this winner-take-all system, the "score" is not 66 to 33 (Bush over Gore) but 32 to 0 - Bush takes all. In essence, votes for Gore go uncounted.

In New York (33 electoral votes), Gore won 60% of the vote, Bush 35%. Likewise here, the score is not 60 to 35, but 33 to 0 - Gore takes all. In this case, Bush's votes go uncounted.

Origins of the Electoral College

The architects of the US political system established the Electoral College process because they did not trust the average voter to understand the issues or know the political leaders of the new nation well enough to make informed choices. So originally, state legislators chose electors, who were not to be professional politicians, but citizens of exemplary knowledge and sophistication. These “electors” would then choose the President of the United States.

Furthermore, the framers of the Constitution preferred the electoral system to a direct popular election because in the 18th century, travel was difficult and there were no national party organizations. They feared that many regional candidates would divide the vote. Requiring a candidate to win a majority in the Electoral College was a way of obtaining a national consensus.

Electoral College - Pro's

Proponents of the Electoral College system normally defend it on the philosophical grounds that it:

contributes to the cohesiveness of the country by requiring a distribution of popular support to be elected president
enhances the status of minority interests,
contributes to the political stability of the nation by encouraging a two-party system, and
maintains a federal system of government and representation.

Electoral College - Con's

Those who object to the Electoral College system and favor a direct popular election of the president generally do so on four grounds:

the possibility of electing a minority president
the risk of so-called "faithless" Electors,
the possible role of the Electoral College in depressing voter turnout, and
its failure to accurately reflect the national popular will.
"Of course, there are those who argue that we can't question the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. Nonsense. We tend to forget the Founding Fathers weren't wise at all when it came to voting rights. They denied the vote to women and blacks. They didn't trust the people to elect U.S. senators. And they didn't trust us to elect our own president, either. Thus the electoral college."

It is argued that the Electoral College currently favors Republicans, as there are a number of states that seem automatically to vote Republican in recent years, while only the District of Columbia can be counted on to vote automatically Democratic.

Specifically, eleven states accounting for 70 electoral votes have voted Republican in every election since 1964 (Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming). Three states accounting for another 25 electoral votes have voted Republican in every election since 1964 except one (Alaska, North Carolina and South Carolina). Add to this that Texas, with its 32 electoral votes, has not voted for a Democrat since 1976, and the Republicans can put 143 electoral votes in their column almost before the election begins.

Replies to this Post:

Post a Reply

[ Replies to this Post ] [ Post a Reply ] [ Soap Box ] [ exFamily.org Home ]