General Question

choreplay's avatar

Give me your opinion on this political proposition.

Asked by choreplay (6295points) January 14th, 2011

1) Do away with the electoral college.
2) Go to a populus vote
3) Two tier elections where, stage one two candidates are selected, independent of party, then stage two we vote for which one is president and the other becomes vice president.

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39 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I don’t like the idea of a Vice President of a different party.

I don’t like the idea of a two-tier election system.

TexasDude's avatar

#3 would cause deadlock… probably.

choreplay's avatar

If you have a group of candidates, the more you have the less of a percent of the population will be choosing. Example, four candidates, 26% could elect our president, wouldn’t want that. Thats why I suggested go to two.

choreplay's avatar

I studied the electoral college for poli sci and it is out dated.

choreplay's avatar

Well how would you change it?

choreplay's avatar

@marinelife, objective is to minimize parties anyway and put candidates in that would represent the majority of the people. @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard, We have ended in those anyway, ie Gore/Bush

jaytkay's avatar

Second place in the electoral college vote used to become VP, until the 12th amendment was passed in 1804

SavoirFaire's avatar

I am all for the first two suggestions. The third suggestion is reminiscent of how the president and vice president were selected in the early days of the United States, which worked out so well that the Twelfth Amendment was passed to fix the issue.

If I had a suggestion for changing the way elections are done in the United States, it would be to adopt instant run-off voting. This frees us to vote our conscious without thereby “wasting our votes.”

choreplay's avatar

Ok, instant run-off-voting would accomplish that.

choreplay's avatar

Number three is not so much an idea Im married to as much as it’s spirit is to result in a candidate elected with as close to a majority is now the case or more. Additionally the current system constrains an additional or new party from being taken seriously. Hopefully this wouldn’t be the case with a new system.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I do not favor doing away with the electoral system.

That would eliminate any influence the smaller states have on the election outcome. As it stands now, a small state can make a difference in maybe one election out of 10. If we do away with the electoral college, the small states citizens will be totally ignored by the powers in Washington. Instead of just ignored until they can make a difference in a tight election.

I think states should have to split their electoral college votes on congressional district lines. Then each district would have more say in the outcome. The total popular vote would get the 2 electoral votes assigned for the Senate seats.

If they did away with the winner take all system most states adopted after the civil war, the electoral college would not be outdated.

JLeslie's avatar

I hate the electoral college. I hate that my vote counts differently in FL than it does living here in TN regarding my vote for president. Since I tend to vote Democrat, my vote is a throw away here. Same if I lived in a very blue state, my vote is unnecessary. I believe the vote for president should be one person one vote. The representative we elect to represents our local communities, and senator for our state, do just that, represent the feelings of the people in the state, but the president is for all the people.

Not sure about question three. Sounds like it would be very expensive for the nation. I like the idea of some way to make it easier for third party candidates to have a real chance. Voting for the president sometimes comes down to strategy, rather than voting for who you think is best.

I’m curious to see other peoples answers.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@WestRiverrat The electors are already distributed by population, though admittedly not in perfect proportions. I do like the idea of eliminating the winner-take-all element of the Electoral College if we aren’t going to get rid of it altogether, but I’m just not convinced we still need the College at all. The electors and the general population yield the same result in most cases, and it’s always a scandal when the two disagree.

Still, it might be worth trying your suggestion first and analyzing the results before eliminating the Electoral College completely. Now we just have to get the rest of the country to read this thread and agree with us!

JLeslie's avatar

Also, regarding what @WestRiverrat said, doing away with the winner take all system would help at least. As it is now, the electoral map gives us a picture in our heads of whole states being red or blue, when really each community in our nation has its own feel, and there are blue cities in red states, and vice versa. The electoral map, as a visual aide, in a time of tv, and mega media, only helps to keep the country divided I think.

jaytkay's avatar

@WestRiverrat …If we do away with the electoral college, the small states citizens will be totally ignored by the powers in Washington….

The citizens of small states would get exactly the same representation as everybody else, instead of a disproportionately high amount of influence (which they already get in the Senate).

choreplay's avatar

@jaytkay, statelines would be eliminated only in the presidential. I’m not talking about congress here. Attention would be only with regard to population centers during elections.

bkcunningham's avatar

1) Do away with the electoral college

Many groups have supported the abolition of the electoral college for many reasons. Most want to replace it with a straightforward nationwide popular vote system with a run-off, if needed, of the top two candidates assuring that the winner will always have the absolute majoity of the popular vote.

Here is why I don’t agree. If you look at the provisions originally established in the Constitution in regards to the electoral college, you will see they have been substantially altered three times. In 1804 with the 12th Amendment, in 1933 with the 20th Amendment and thirdly, in 1961 with the 23rd Amendment. This was done in accordance with Article V of the Constitution with provides for it to be amended.

Three proposals were originally discussed by the framers at the Constitutional Convention on how the president could be elected. All three were rejected. One allowed the Congress to select the president. Another was to allow the State legislatures to select the president and the third proposal was tht the president be elected by national popular vote.

The election by national popular vote was rejected because the framers believed teh larger populus States would have much greater influence than smaller States and the interests of those smaller States would be overlooked or disgarded. They also believed a nationwide election would encourage regionalism since the more populous parts of the country could form coalitions to elect president after president from thier own region. This would do away with any hopes of a lasting national unity.

The Committee of Eleven took over for the framers and discussed recommendations. They eventually came up with a proposal for indirect election of the president on a State-by-State basis through a college of electors. They didn’t come up with this willy nilly. It is a practice proved sucessful in ancient times.

The electoral college synthesized two imporant philosophies established in the Constitution. The maintenance of a republican, as opposed to a democratic, form of government and the balance of power between the smaller and the larger States and between the various diverse regions of the nation.

This satisfied smaller states like Rhode Island who was afraid they would not have a voice and no protection against the bigger more populous states like New York or Massachusetts. The less populated states also had concerns, which the electoral college satisfied, about how to protect their agricultural interests against the more populus coastal regional interests likefishing and shipping. This is also why we have a bi-carmel instead of a uni=carmel legislative system.

So in the Senate, little Delaware has the same power as California. Two votes for each state. In the House, Delaware only has one vote compared to 52 in California. Even though Delaware’s vote may get negated in the House, these two sources of power – House and Senate- the votes in those two bodies on the same piece of legislation may be dramatically different.

Either way, before that legislation can become law ther must be some compromise – some in the Senate to the will of the population and some in the House to the will of the States.

James Madison said, “As to the eventual voting by States, it has my approbation. The lesser States and some larger States will be generally pleased by that mode. The deputies from the small States argued, and there is some force in their reasoning, that, when the people voted, the large States evidently had the advantage over the rest, and, without varying the mode, the interests of the little States might be neglected or sacrificed. Here is a compromise.”

jaytkay's avatar

@Season_of_Fall I was meant Presidential elections. The Senate comment was just a note that small states do get some extra clout apart from the electoral college.

choreplay's avatar

Wait, you jumped from presidential elections to representation of the states in congress. I know state identy is alive and well but to connect the election of the President to that I would like a little more of a bridge explanation.

bkcunningham's avatar

No, it goes to the heart of my defense of wanting to keep the electoral college.

choreplay's avatar

@bkcunningham, How much governing of states is touched by the president these days?

bkcunningham's avatar

@Season_of_Fall do you mean specifically the Executive Branch (the Cabinet, Depts. of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education and so forth)? A tremndous amount if this is what you mean.

filmfann's avatar

Minority opinion here. I like the current system. It ensures the candidate doesn’t just focus on the big states.

bkcunningham's avatar

@filmfann I’m in your minority.

choreplay's avatar

Bkcunningham, hadn’t thought of that, need to gain more understanding. Will ponder your points.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Season_of_Fall as you ponder, please ignore all of my typos. When I read over my posts, I’m ashamed at all of my spelling errors. I need a good copy editor.

No system is perfect. But I’m excited and amazed everytime I read about our government and our Constitution. The foresight, thought and genius of these men isn’t seen in many of our deep thinkers and politicians today.

laureth's avatar

@bkcunningham – I agree. Back then, the Founders were hip deep in the Age of Enlightenment. Nowadays, I think we’re in the Age of Willful Ignorance.

JLeslie's avatar

@filmfann What kind of focus are you thinking? When the person is running for president? While he is president? Elaborate a little if you don’t mind.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@bkcunningham Two points. First, I will again note that democracies and republics are not mutually exclusive (relevant remarks here and here). Minor point, I know. But I can’t just let it pass.

Second, each state gets a number of electors equal to its full congressional delegation (i.e. number of representatives plus number of senators). So in the last presidential election, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska had three electoral votes each, whereas California had 55, Texas had 34, and New York had 31. In what way, then, would the Electoral College prevent large states from overwhelming small states were an alliance to be formed?

Don’t get me wrong: I am also a big fan of the Founders, the philosophers who inspired them, and the U.S. Constitution they crafted. Part of the Founders’ foresight and genius, however, was knowing that they were not perfect and including a means for changing the system without the need for another revolution. Keeping the country exactly the same way as it was disrespects their brilliance and their humility if it is done for no other reason than nostalgia or a feeling of indebtedness. Times change, people change, governments change. The Founders knew this—they proved it to the world, after all.

augustlan's avatar

Here is my proposed plan:

Ditch the electoral college.

All candidates would be anonymous, and NO advertising would be allowed. NO campaign contributions, either, unless they are all provided by the government and everyone gets the same amount. Basically, a travel allowance.

All candidates would answer the same detailed questionnaire, which would address the top issues facing the country today and how they would handle them. We’d probably want some background info, too. Maybe criminal record, level of education, and job experience. All debates would be conducted off-camera, and we’d only see written transcripts. All we’d have to judge them by is how they answered their questionnaires and how they respond in debate. No parties, labels, names or photos. This would force us all to vote purely on the issues rather than personality or on party lines, or any other ridiculous reason.

In the primary, we’d narrow it down to two candidates from a field of say, 10. In the general, we’d get even more information on how they’d ‘fix’ things, but still no further identifying information. Whoever gets the most votes wins. THEN we find out who they are, and they pick their VP.

JLeslie's avatar

@augustlan Sounds good to me.

bkcunningham's avatar

@SavoirFaire sorry it took me awhile to get back to you. I was busy yesterday and to be honest, I actually had to dig back through posts to find this discussion. Anyway…

Like I said before, the framers did consider a direct national popular vote. The idea was rejected because the framers believed the larger populus States would have much greater influence than smaller States and the interests of those smaller States would be overlooked or disgarded. They also believed a nationwide election would encourage regionalism since the more populous parts of the country could form coalitions to elect president after president from thier own region.

Now I agree with you when you say, part of “the Founders’ foresight and genius” was “knowing that they were not perfect and including a means for changing the system without the need for another revolution. Keeping the country exactly the same way as it was disrespects their brilliance and their humility if it is done for no other reason than nostalgia or a feeling of indebtedness.”

That is why the Electoral College has been changed. Three times.

You asked, “In what way, then, would the Electoral College prevent large states from overwhelming small states were an alliance to be formed?

I’ll provide one argument from a legal expert on the subject with whom I agree. Tara Ross, when speaking against the Campaign for the National Popular Vote’s campaign to eliminate the Constitutional Electoal College at the behest of a handful of states, without the bother of a Constitutional Amendment

“Electoral College opponents have tried and failed many times in their efforts to obtain a constitutional amendment. Such a process requires the consent of two thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states. It’s much easier to obtain the consent of a mere eleven states. And if eleven states get to change the rules of the presidential-election game, without so much as a nod to the remaining thirty-nine states, then why should NPV supporters care? After all, presidential elections can already be won with the votes of only eleven states. So any unfairness in the NPV plan merely reflects the inherent unfairness of the Electoral College system.

“It is true that America’s presidential-election system technically could allow the eleven largest states to pick the president. But the incentives inherent in the Electoral College work in the opposite direction, making such an outcome extremely unlikely. The Electoral College encourages presidential candidates to build national coalitions of voters. The compromises that a presidential candidate would have to make to obtain the votes of, say, California and Texas, guarantee that any candidate who manages to obtain the votes of the eleven largest states will also obtain the votes of a majority of states. The last presidential candidate to accomplish this feat was Reagan in 1984, and he obtained the votes of every state except Minnesota. (He also lost the District of Columbia.)

“NPV’s legislation, on the other hand, does not ensure national coalition building. To the contrary, the proposal gives the eleven largest states incentives to work against the remaining states: Getting rid of the Electoral College would allow presidential candidates to win with positions that are not at all in the interest of less populous states. To be sure, and as NPV points out, candidates now focus largely on battleground states, but the only reason other states aren’t battlegrounds is because they are, by and large, happy with one of the candidates positions. Moreover, so-called “safe” and “swing” states change constantly. As recently as 1988, California voted consistently Republican. Texas was a safe Democrat state until it began voting Republican in 1980.

“Proponents of national presidential elections point out that the president almost always wins the popular vote anyway. But the question is how these votes were won. Changing the system would change the way in which presidential candidates campaign. NPV proponents make much of their slogan “Every Vote Equal.” It’s a nice sounding slogan which appeals to a sense of fairness. But if every vote counted exactly the same, the system would end up being quite unfair to the less populous states. The true question here is whether the nation should vote in a state-by-state presidential election or a national presidential election. Changing from one process to the other would have significant ramifications.

“John F. Kennedy once stated that America’s presidential election system is like a solar system of governmental power. If one aspect of the solar system is changed, others will inevitably be impacted. If the gravitational pull of the sun is changed, then the Earth will be pulled out of its orbit. In the same way, if the Electoral College is removed from the nation’s system of electing presidents, then other aspects of the political system will inevitably change. For example, the two-party political system will likely be seriously undermined. Also, presidential candidates will have less incentive to build national coalitions, and they will instead campaign primarily in high population areas.

“If NPV succeeds in passing its legislation, citizens living in a majority of states will likely have been denied the opportunity to have a say in the decision about whether America will live in this political solar system or a new one. If getting rid of the Electoral College is such a great idea, then why do its proponents seem to want to bypass the people in enacting it? If it is such a great idea, and one that will serve our interests, why not go national with their case? Apparently they’re not so into voting after all.”

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Why does it matter what the state wants more than an individual within a state? I am commenting on your point about the founders worrying states with smaller populations would be at a disadvantage with the popular vote. If I am the only Liberal in my state, I don’t want my vote for President to be worth nothing, just because of where I live. The President represents and supports all the people. I tend to think, but could be wrong, that people who move around quite a bit, as opposed to those who were, born, raised, and live in the same state their whole lives might view this differently. I think more in terms of being an American than a Tennessean, Floridian, Michigander, or New Yorker (some of the states I have lived in).

Plus, even with the electoral college, smaller states have less representation, although even having three people might give them more representation than justified by their population, but I have no quarrel with two senators and a minimum of one representative for every state.

jaytkay's avatar

Under the electoral college, you can win the Presidency with 23% of the popular vote.

That’s the extreme case, where you edge out a win the 39 smallest states, with 51% in each state. And you get zero votes in the big states.

Or, if you just take the 11 big states with 51% in each state, you only need 27% of the popular vote.

That’s reason enough to can it.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I thought I might add the “group” I most identify with is most likely helped by the electoral college. I don’t care, I still find the system unfair.

bkcunningham's avatar

@JLeslie @JLeslie what does it matter what the state wants more than the individual within that state? I don’t quite understand your statements. But in reality, the state is the individuals within that state. If you don’t want the majority to rule within the state, which is how I’m interpreting what you are saying, what do you suggest?

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I suggest a popular vote for president. The majority within a state and a community has influence in local government, that makes sense to me.

jaytkay's avatar

@bkcunningham If you don’t want the majority to rule within the state, which is how I’m interpreting what you are saying, what do you suggest?

We’re talking Presidential elections, not rule within a state.

A Democrat in Texas and a Republican in Illinois have no reason to vote in Presidential elections. Their entire states’ electoral votes go for the other party.

bkcunningham's avatar

@jaytkay how do you think the states’ electors, who are citizens of the states, get selected?

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