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Question: Should the United States change its method of electing presidents from an electoral college to direct popular vote (and a runoff if no candidate gets a majority of the vote in the first round)?
Yes   -36 (66.7%)
No   -18 (33.3%)
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Total Voters: 54

Author Topic: Should we abolish the electoral college?  (Read 4749 times)
Peter the Lefty
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« on: June 21, 2011, 01:37:14 pm »
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Bush would never have been elected.  Enough said. 
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2011, 02:50:01 pm »
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What an interesting and original idea.  I never thought of it like that before.
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Joe Republic
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2011, 02:59:14 pm »
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I'm in favor of abolishing the electoral college, and replacing it with a papal college.  A few hundred men selected by the previous few presidents get to decide behind closed doors who among them becomes the next president.  Much better.
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2011, 03:04:13 pm »
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I'm in favor of abolishing the electoral college, and replacing it with a papal college.  A few hundred men selected by the previous few presidents get to decide behind closed doors who among them becomes the next president.  Much better.

That's sort of the system we have right now except the papal electors are just rich presidential primary donors and bundlers.
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2011, 01:34:13 pm »
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Hell yes.

Who are the 8 yes votes so far and what possible justification can they present in favor of such an anti-democratic anachronism? Huh
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Peter the Lefty
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2011, 04:39:10 pm »
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I'm in favor of abolishing the electoral college, and replacing it with a papal college.  A few hundred men selected by the previous few presidents get to decide behind closed doors who among them becomes the next president.  Much better.
So you're in favor of throwing out democracy, pretty much? 
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2011, 04:46:50 pm »
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I'm in favor of abolishing the electoral college, and replacing it with a papal college.  A few hundred men selected by the previous few presidents get to decide behind closed doors who among them becomes the next president.  Much better.
So you're in favor of throwing out democracy, pretty much? 

Whatever do you mean?  The electors are still voting for a candidate, and therefore democracy is preserved.  Though I'd prefer it if the elderly men in such a college were also exclusively white and rich; something that the Vatican has let slip over the years.
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2011, 06:12:04 pm »
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Though I'd prefer it if the elderly men in such a college were also exclusively white and rich; something that the Vatican has let slip over the years.

They are losing sight of what really matters. Sad
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2011, 09:11:05 pm »
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Hell yes.

Who are the 8 yes votes so far and what possible justification can they present in favor of such an anti-democratic anachronism? Huh

Well first off, until elections are handled at the Federal level instead of the State level so that voting eligibility is uniform (it's a lot more uniform than it was when the Constitution was adopted, but still not 100% uniform) It makes sense to weight voting power in a manner that who is eligible to vote does not skew the results.  I wouldn't mind seeing some tinkering to the Electoral College, such as making it be based purely on the House or requiring that States use a PR allocation of votes instead of winner take all.
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« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2011, 12:23:51 am »
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Bush would never have been elected.  Enough said. 

^ Posts like these are exactly why I oppose abolishing the EC.
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« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2011, 06:48:01 am »
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Bush would never have been elected.  Enough said.  

^ Posts like these are exactly why I oppose abolishing the EC.

How sweet, that makes the two of you intellectual equals.
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« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2011, 07:25:09 am »
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Hell yes.

Who are the 8 yes votes so far and what possible justification can they present in favor of such an anti-democratic anachronism? Huh
Seems like you could ask yourself that question Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2011, 09:05:54 am »
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Bush would never have been elected.  Enough said. 

^ Posts like these are exactly why I oppose abolishing the EC.

So you both support your arguments for purely political reasons? How pure of the two of you.
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« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2011, 10:44:00 am »
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Bush would never have been elected.  Enough said. 

^ Posts like these are exactly why I oppose abolishing the EC.

So you both support your arguments for purely political reasons? How pure of the two of you.

Yes indeed Cathcon!
What these two oft forget is that it isn't just George W. Bush who won because of the flaw of the Electoral College.  Lest us not forget these men:

1824: John Quincy Adams (Democratic Republican-Massachusetts) ends up being elected by the US House of Representatives after the candidates in the original election fail to win a majority of the electoral college vote.  In the original election he didn't even come close to beating Andrew Jackson who won over 40% of the popular vote AND beat him in the electoral college.  Since we all know how well Jackson's tenure ended up being, you know with all that freedom fighting like forcing Injuns from their homes and all, how well do you think things would've been if he won four years earlier?
1876: Perhaps the most infamous example (even more so than hurr durr Bush) would be Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican-Ohio) victory in the election of 1876 where his opponent won more than 50% of the popular vote but lost the electoral college vote by one.  Now whether or not the race should've been as close due to Southern governments interference into the elections is up for debate, but as it stands Hayes victory demonstrates that somebody could lose by a considerable amount (47.92%-50.92%) and still become president.  But then you got to ask yourself......can you imagine American history had Hayes had lost it?  Would it have been better?  Would it have been worse?  I don't know.
1888: Incumbent Democratic President Grover Cleveland of New York loses the election despite winning the popular vote by almost a hundred thousand more votes than his opponent Benjamin Harrison (Republican-Indiana).  There is some debate that the only reason Cleveland won the popular vote was due to Democrats stifling the black vote in the South, but again let's be technical here.  In the cruel lens of history Cleveland is record as winning the popular vote, deal with it (just like 1876).  However, that doesn't change the fact that he lost the electoral college vote and thus didn't become president.  A last minute campaign tactic by the Republicans, namely a letter by a British dude saying Cleveland was cool that ended up pissing off some Democratic voters, helped Harrison win New York.  Imagine if he had lost and Sherman Silver Purchase or the McKinley Tariff never happened.......oh wait.....

So depending on one's perspective the electoral college was either the worst idea ever devised or it was the saving grace of American history.  I personally believe it's a mixture of the two: it's neither the best nor the worst system devised.  I will admit though, writing what-if timelines would suck without it.
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Peter the Lefty
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« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2011, 11:50:43 am »
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Bush would never have been elected.  Enough said. 

^ Posts like these are exactly why I oppose abolishing the EC.

So you both support your arguments for purely political reasons? How pure of the two of you.

I only meant what I said about Bush as a joke.  I oppose it because it is an undemocratic institution and distorts the vote. 
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« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2011, 12:51:55 pm »
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Hell yes.

Who are the 8 yes votes so far and what possible justification can they present in favor of such an anti-democratic anachronism? Huh
Seems like you could ask yourself that question Smiley

D'OH!! Embarrassed I of course meant "no" votes....
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« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2011, 01:06:40 pm »
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Hell yes.

Who are the 8 yes votes so far and what possible justification can they present in favor of such an anti-democratic anachronism? Huh

Well first off, until elections are handled at the Federal level instead of the State level so that voting eligibility is uniform (it's a lot more uniform than it was when the Constitution was adopted, but still not 100% uniform) It makes sense to weight voting power in a manner that who is eligible to vote does not skew the results.  I wouldn't mind seeing some tinkering to the Electoral College, such as making it be based purely on the House or requiring that States use a PR allocation of votes instead of winner take all.

The first suggestion is actually even less democratic a system than the current EC setup, and possibly the only way it could be made even worse. The second suggestion isn't so bad (something like assigning the states' electors for house representation based on popular vote, and assign the two electors representing its senators to the statewide winner?) Somewhat better I suppose, but if we're going to reconfigure the EC that much we might as well scrap the damn thing altogether.

While I see your point re: voting restrictions not being uniform, at the same time I don't see that as nearly sufficient justification for the EC's fundamentally undemocratic system. For that matter, loosening sufferage eligibility laws probably would be a generally good thing.

Currently a state's voting restrictions already does skew the results, albeit in a reverse way of what you are thinking. Take two states with similar adult populations and identically sized congressional delegations, but with vastly divergent voter eligibility laws and, thus, levels of registration and voting. State A's liberalized voting requirements allow (e.g.) 120-130% of the number of ballots cast compared to State B's exclusionary ballot laws, but both states are guaranteed the same level of input to the election? It seems to me that if a state is willing to live with the ramifications of such open voting standards for its own local and state elections, then it shouldn't be diluted in presidential elections by the EC.
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« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2011, 03:14:53 pm »
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No, because then only voters in major cities would matter.
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« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2011, 08:22:16 pm »
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No, because then only voters in major cities would matter.

Rather like how only voters in swing states currently matter?
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« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2011, 10:01:11 pm »
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No, we should not abolish the electoral college.  That would require a constitutional amendment...the process would be drawn-out and result in the loss of much political capital.

Instead, the states are serious about ending the EC they ought to take advantage of the rights granted to them by the Constitution.  States can select electors however they see fit.  Currently, 48 states award their respective electoral votes to their statewide popular vote winner.  Any state could change their laws to where their electoral votes were allocated to the national popular vote winner.  This is what the NPVIC is trying to do.

So, in answer to the question...for anybody who seriously wants to end the "electoral college" the NPVIC is much more likely to happen than a constitutional amendment. 

However, semantically speaking, adopting the NPVIC would not result in the end of the EC, it would only change the way that states allocated their electoral votes...
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« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2011, 09:34:48 am »
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No, we should not abolish the electoral college.  That would require a constitutional amendment...the process would be drawn-out and result in the loss of much political capital.

Instead, the states are serious about ending the EC they ought to take advantage of the rights granted to them by the Constitution.  States can select electors however they see fit.  Currently, 48 states award their respective electoral votes to their statewide popular vote winner.  Any state could change their laws to where their electoral votes were allocated to the national popular vote winner.  This is what the NPVIC is trying to do.

So, in answer to the question...for anybody who seriously wants to end the "electoral college" the NPVIC is much more likely to happen than a constitutional amendment. 

However, semantically speaking, adopting the NPVIC would not result in the end of the EC, it would only change the way that states allocated their electoral votes...

That's.....actually a pretty good idea.
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« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2011, 11:16:58 am »
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Yes, I support  abolishing the electoral college but have concerns with it... 
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« Reply #22 on: June 29, 2011, 06:16:35 am »
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It doesn't matter if we should or not because it will never happen.
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« Reply #23 on: June 29, 2011, 10:01:40 am »
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Is a parliamentary system undemocratic?

I ask this somewhat rhetorically, because the EC is designed in some ways to replace the parliamentary function of selecting the head of government (ie the prime minister). The Founders did not want a British-style parliament and explicitly separated the executive from legislative branches. Nonetheless, they still perceived a body that mirrored the legislature acting as a parliament to select the president - the Electoral College.

There is a second, mathematical consequence to the EC. Any system that aggregates votes into groups and assigns them a single value, then adds up the values of the groups will tend to magnify the difference in the outcome. This tends to make a winner much clearer. For example, if a congressional race were decided 53% to 46% we would say that it was a close race, and certainly lacked a mandate from the voters. If the same race were decided 68% to 32% then it would be considered a strong mandate for the winner. Those are exactly the percentages Obama won with in 2008, and the EC gives us the sense that he had a commanding win, something we would not feel if there was only the 53% to 46% margin.

The glitch in an EC system occurs when the overall margin between two candidates is extremely small. At that point statistical fluctuations in they way those votes are grouped can flip the election the other way. That was the case in 2000 as well as 1888 (1876 was arguably rigged, and 1824 went to the House in a four-way split between candidates.)
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« Reply #24 on: June 29, 2011, 02:27:54 pm »
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No, we should not abolish the electoral college.  That would require a constitutional amendment...the process would be drawn-out and result in the loss of much political capital.

Instead, the states are serious about ending the EC they ought to take advantage of the rights granted to them by the Constitution.  States can select electors however they see fit.  Currently, 48 states award their respective electoral votes to their statewide popular vote winner.  Any state could change their laws to where their electoral votes were allocated to the national popular vote winner.  This is what the NPVIC is trying to do.

So, in answer to the question...for anybody who seriously wants to end the "electoral college" the NPVIC is much more likely to happen than a constitutional amendment. 

However, semantically speaking, adopting the NPVIC would not result in the end of the EC, it would only change the way that states allocated their electoral votes...

I actually think the NPVIC is the worst possible "solution". I much prefer abolishing the EC outright.

(Of course, I still think the best option is keeping the EC as is, so again, I vote "no" to the poll.)
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Clearly the solution is to privatize presidential elections.

So, in less than four years, get excited for the 2016 MetLife Financial U Pick The Prez Extravaganza. If you tweet a picture of your completed ballot with the hashtag #ivoted, you could win a trip for two to the inauguration or an iTunes gift card.
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