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Blueroses's avatar

Is the electoral college obsolete and open to corruption?

Asked by Blueroses (17453 points ) March 12th, 2011

In this age of computers and instant information, is there a case for moving to direct elections?
One idea might be to issue each voter a unique PIN for voting online or even at a participating ATM.
Might counting each individual vote allow a more honest representation of the USA’s population?
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15 Answers

Jaxk's avatar

These are really separate questions. The electoral college is merely an extension of our representative government. I’m not aware any abuses or corruption in that process. There have however been a few times over our history where the popular vote and the electoral vote have differed. Primarily as a result of the winner take all nature of most states. It does seem to be a bit out of touch with the country as a whole and a popular election would not be difficult nor have much impact.

Changing the voting methods however is a bit more risky. I kind of like the idea that if you want to vote, you have to show up and do so. Even the drive to absentee ballots seems a bit prone to abuse but assigning a pin or some other such device would really throw it open to abuse. Hell, you wouldn’t need to bus people to the polls but just get their pin and vote for them. Sorry I’m of the opinion that if you don’t care enough or don’t know enough, to vote, you shouldn’t vote. Show up, show an ID, and vote. That’s the way I’d like it.

john65pennington's avatar

I have always asked this question, concerning the electoral college:

Why does the public even vote, if the members of the electoral college, elects our president?

It’s a waste of tax money.

It’s just show and tell for the taxpayers.

All of this money could used for a much better purpose.

Cruiser's avatar

No I do not think it is obsolete and anything is open to corruption but anyone selected by it’s party to be its representative in the EC, pretty much will vote the party line or be skinned alive. FWIW, the EC vote most times represents each states popular vote and does work in it’s much maligned, misunderstood, under appreciated way.

Jaxk's avatar

@Cruiser

You’re right in that it works but there is little reason to retain it in today’s world. The best outcome for the EC is for it to match the popular vote so why not just use the popular vote.

As for corruption, the only instance I can recall, is back in the 30s (maybe the 40s) when Minnesota ( maybe Wisconsin) changed the vote to proportional division to try and get thier party more votes. Then after the election went back to a winner take all. Regardless it didn’t work thier guy still lost.

Cruiser's avatar

@Jaxk for the original reason that it implemented to thwart the “influence” of the passion of voters swayed by $5.00 gift cards for casting a vote and free rides to the voting booth engineered by “grass roots” coalitions as effectively executed by Acorn and other corporate organizations bent on buying elections.

filmfann's avatar

The electoral college is definitly open to corruption, but hopefully those in power can rise the level of our hopes.

Jaxk's avatar

@Cruiser

Whereas I would agree with “influence” you mention, I don’t see how the electoral college minimizes that. It is your votes that elect the electors and they then vote for president as they have pledged. Any votes purchased elect the electors and then on to president. It’s still the votes that make the difference. The state system of winner take all is what drives the rare election that differs from the popular vote.

As I recall, the electoral college was originally created to insure we didn’t elect some yahoo that would be detrimental to the country. If the popular vote was obviously misguided, the electoral college could correct that mistake. Based in a time when communications were difficult and the population uneducated. Hell, communications were so slow that we could have elected a dead person. Times have changed.

Cruiser's avatar

@Jaxk without going through lengthy elaboration I think we are close if not the same page.

Jaxk's avatar

@Cruiser

I get so little agreement on this site that I won’t say anything could spoil my euphoria.

beancrisp's avatar

This is how I think the electoral college should work.
A candidate gets two votes if they win the statewide popular vote.
A candidate gets one vote if they win the popular vote within a congressional district.

perspicacious's avatar

Yes and yes. I would like to get rid of it. Every vote cast should have the same significance in national elections. This is not true as long as the electoral college exists.

Blueroses's avatar

I think that we are in an age when the popular vote can and should count for more, but I’m really enjoying the love dance between @Jaxk and @Cruiser . You both did say the same thing. Get a room already.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@john65pennington When we vote in the presidential race, it’s for electors. If you look at a ballot, it even says “Electors for [Candidate’s Name]” in the presidential column. If no one voted in that race, there would be no electoral college and no president (or the election would be decided by Congress). We elect electors, the electors elect the president.

The original idea was that every state would have potential electors for each candidate, and they would pay close attention to the election campaigns. They started out committed to a particular candidate, but each was theoretically allowed to change his mind if swayed by one of the campaigns. In practice, however, that rarely ever happened—and it never happens anymore. Indeed, 24 states have laws against defecting in this way. This seems to undermine the purpose of the Electoral College, though, and I admit I share your doubts about the institution’s continued usefulness.

jlelandg's avatar

The party system seems to have made an otherwise interesting way to elect people seem really crappy.

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