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| | |-+  Is there any plausible argument in favor of the electoral college? (search mode)
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Author Topic: Is there any plausible argument in favor of the electoral college?  (Read 57739 times)
A18
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« on: September 06, 2008, 09:54:47 pm »

As opposed to election by national popular-vote.

None of the conventional arguments strike me as persuasive. But conventional or unconventional, line 'em up.
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A18
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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2008, 04:37:01 pm »

(a) "It makes candidates visit swing states, rather than just run up massive totals in big states, and ignore places like Nevada, New Mexico, and New Hampshire."

In other words, it would be most cost-effective to focus on densely-populated areas. That is true (of course, isn't it much the same way now?), at least if we assume that the percentage of swing voters does not vary significantly from region to region. I'm not sure it's much of an improvement to arbitrarily divert attention toward "swing states."

Another point: Your argument applies to such things as GOTV and advertising. It doesn't apply at all to the actual positions a candidate takes; surely they will be communicated to the entire country through the internet, radio, etc.

(b) "It makes appealing to the extremes less fashionable since they probably won't give you the support you need to win enough states."

This certainly isn't obvious. Please elaborate.

(c) With reference to the close presidential election of 1960: "'[T]he Constitutional Fathers . . . in their foresight, invented the device of the Electoral College, which, while preserving free citizen choice, prevents it from degenerating into the violence that can accompany the narrow act of head counting'" (quoting Theodore H. White, The Making of the President).

Well, sure. But thin margins are not a uniquely national phenomena. Once--ancient history, by political standards--there was even a close election in a state whose electoral votes were to determine the next president (i.e., Florida 2000).
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A18
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2008, 03:09:27 pm »

as of current, different US states have all sort of weird and arcane, but different, balloting laws. That would have to go out of the window if you introduce the national popular vote (or else somebody'd be crying foul play at every election decided by less than 4% nationally, and even have a point.) That's a real loss of one of the last vestiges of genuinely federal structure in the US.

Thought of that. Certainly, recount standards and so forth would have to be nationalized--with respect to the office of president, anyway. I'm not sure about ballot design and technology; at present, how much freedom do local jurisdictions typically enjoy?
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A18
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« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2008, 10:09:44 pm »

The primary advantage of the electoral college is that in the event of a recount, the recount is held only in the States that are close.

But is that much of an advantage? And if so, how?

Is the argument that the number of ballots would be so large as to make a national recount impractical? If so, I can't understand the focus on re-counts--surely the first count is no different in that respect. But whatever the case may be, the assertion certainly isn't obvious, and no evidence has been offered to substantiate it.
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