General Question

flo's avatar

Is the Electoral College about proportional representation, and if not why not?

Asked by flo (11436points) 2 weeks ago

As asked.

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23 Answers

Yellowdog's avatar

It is about representing the wishes / votes of the nation.

If we went merely by the popular vote, then the densely populated areas such as New York and Southern California would determine the outcome. Places like Kansas and Alabama and Wyoming would not matter, because their populations are so low.

seawulf575's avatar

It is about proportional representation…of the states. Each state gets one electoral vote for each of their senators plus an electoral vote for each of the representatives in the House from that state. Washington DC was given 3 electoral votes via the 23rd amendment. The number of representatives is supposed to be proportional to the population. But to help ensure, as my esteemed counterpart @Yellowdog said, that each state gets at least a say in things, the electoral college is used.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Yellowdog “If we went merely by the popular vote, then the densely populated areas such as New York and Southern California would determine the outcome. ”

So what? That’s what a democracy is. Why should the President represent a person in Wyoming more than she represents a person in New York. The way it is now the tyranny of the minority rules.

janbb's avatar

Why would population density have anything to do with it if it is a nationwide count with one person one vote and no electoral college? Am I missing something?

Yellowdog's avatar

@Caravanfan Even with all the yellow journalism and anti-Trump propaganda from the Hillary campaign, most of which is still en masse today—it was a close election. Hillary, with all her positive press that she was the smartest woman in the nation or world, won the popular vote by about two million votes.

If you take California out of the equasion—all the votes in California for both candidates, Trump wins by 1.5 million votes. California had 3.5 more votes for Hillary than for Trump.

Should just one state determine the outcome of an election when the majority thinks another way? I think not.

Suppose Mississippi had two or three cities the size of Memphis or Atlanta. Would you want Mississippi, having a majority of population, override the votes of Washington or Oregon?

Caravanfan's avatar

“Should just one state determine the outcome of an election when the majority minority thinks another way?

Absolutely. That’s called “democracy.”

seawulf575's avatar

Those of you that don’t understand why we have an electoral college are part of the problem with this country. We are not a bunch of people in one country. We are 50 sovereign states with a federal government to help hold us together. So by going strictly on popular vote and allowing a few cities or states to decide everything, you are taking away the rights of the other states. All the states contribute something to the whole. You are part of the problem with this nation because you either through ignorance or hatred don’t want to admit how this nation is supposed to work. The electoral college is a way for each state to have a say in how the federal government they will have to work with is run, yet still takes into account differences in population between the states.

Caravanfan's avatar

@seawulf575 I completely and totally understand why we have an Electoral college. I also maintain that it is an antequated 18th century invention made completely irrelevent by modern technology.

Darth_Algar's avatar

A first-past-the-post system is, by definition, not proportional representation.

flutherother's avatar

As I understand it in each state the winner gets all that state’s electoral votes whether they won by two votes or two million. Only Maine and Nebraska are different and can split their votes among the different candidates in a kind of proportional representation.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@flutherother

That is correct. But according to some Republicans alloting the electoral vote in proportion to the vote of the people is undemocratic.

janbb's avatar

@Darth_Algar Well, according to one Republican, making Election Day a national holiday is undemocratic so there you go.

Pandora's avatar

@janbb He said it would be a power grab. So in his eyes by leveling the field for the working class to be able to vote and not have to miss work is undemocratic. I now understand why they hold it in late fall, on a tuesday. It’s to make sure most people won’t show up because they can’t miss work.
@flo I get why the electoral college exist, but at the same time I feel it erases votes. Example. Hillary got over 3 million more votes. That is essentially, 3 million votes erased. So I don’t see why we shouldn’t just do the popular vote wins. By using a system that makes things fairer for some states, you erase millions of votes. The best thing to do, is get rid of the electoral college and Presidents should be like Judges. They shouldn’t be associated with any party. They should just represent the people of the nation. Not party. Do that and it will be fairer.

zenvelo's avatar

@Pandora the logic of setting Election Day in November makes perfect sense in an agrarian society. It is after the harvest but before the real onset of winter hinders travel.

The Electoral College was established to balance the relative power of the several states. It had nothing to do with the popular vote at the time, because it is a construct where the franchise was severely limited, and the number of voters had no relation to the total population.

The number of voters in Southern slave States was rather small compared to the number of Electors, since the House of Representatives was apportioned based on three fifths of the slave population. The South had only a few white landowning males (voters), but millions of slaves.

As the franchise has expanded, the structure of the Electoral College has not evolved with society.

Caravanfan's avatar

History lesson. The reason why the Electoral College exists is because back in the 1700s there weren’t reliable methods of counting individual votes. So each state sent electors to the Electoral College to elect the president.

Now that we have reliable voting systems the system is outdated. The Founding Fathers would be appalled to find out that we now elect people based upon the will of the minority vote.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree with @Caravanfan. Twice now, in my lifetime, the electoral college has gone against the majority vote, with disastrous results both times. They brought in the two worst president of all time, although Bush Baby is like a shining star compared to trump.

I am wondering if the electoral college is simply easier for outside forces to manipulate than trying to control every single voter in the nation.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Dutchess_III Of course. It’s far easier for Russia to manipulate the vote in two or three states than it is the whole country.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Also, it use to be that the people of each Congressional district got to at least vote for who has casting their Electoral vote, but that’s something else we’ve done away with. Now the winning party in a state appoints the Electors and, of course, they tend to appoint party loyalists and high-dollar donars.

Regardless of your personal politics, the fact that one of the Electors for New York State (Bill Clinton) was the spouse of one of the candidates ought to be appalling.

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