The Electoral College: Necessary?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by ktwsolo, Dec 19, 2001.

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  1. ShadowDragon Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2002
    star 1
    StarFire: That might be a better argument if the electors weren't so biased and partisan. And if we could find someone with absolutely no bias, partisanship, or corruption, why draw state votes into it at all? As it stands, though, the popular vote is the best we can do.
  2. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    ShadowDragon: Dude, electors are SUPPOSED to be biased. They should cast their votes based on who they think is best, and that means having an opinion. Regardless, they still vote with the voice of the people a vast majority of the time.

    A simple popular vote would not be better for the simple reason I touched on in my last post: candidates campaign solely to get votes. When they're campaigning among demographics that overall support their party, then they'll tell people to go out and vote. When they're not, they won't.
    It's despicable that candidates actually HOPE for a low voter turnout (a la Gary Condit).
    This points to a attempted subversion of the election system, one which is easily remedied with a system of electors. I wouldn't suggest this system on a local or statewide level, because it would be too easy to buy votes.
    On the national scale, however, electors won't be bought quite so easily. Plus, there won't be any voter fraud. No 500 votes here, and 1000 votes there will mysteriously fail to make the count.
  3. ShadowDragon Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2002
    star 1
    By bias, I meant both bias in support of a certain party (Parties select the most biased electors they can find!) and bias in support of what will personally help them rather than the people. To quite an extreme, they're pretty prejudicial folks.

    I do agree that it's despicable that some hope for low turnout. I find many things people do on both sides despicable. Both sides desperately try to keep themselves in power. Both sides are hypocritical about judicial nominees. Yadda yadda yadda... A system of electors does not fix this. Slightly lower turnout of whites would have won Gore the EC (Not to mention that he really did win it :))

    No voter fraud? Huh? Looks like we have voter fraud to me. And it can make a very big difference under the current system. A small amount of voter fraud in a close election can bring in a whole different set of electors who would comprise a large portion of the EC votes.
  4. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    By bias, I meant both bias in support of a certain party (Parties select the most biased electors they can find!) and bias in support of what will personally help them rather than the people. To quite an extreme, they're pretty prejudicial folks.

    You assume that non-electors are any less prejudicial. And if you don't, then what difference does it make?

    A system of electors does not fix this. Slightly lower turnout of whites would have won Gore the EC

    And . . . ? :confused:

    By no voter fraud, I mean that it is much harder to buy an elector than to cause several thousand votes to be lost. And if a candidate seriously wants several thousand votes to be lost, I can guarantee you that it's easy as anything [face_plain]

    A system of electors simply has more integrity.
  5. Emperor_Dan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 1999
    star 4
    Dude, electors are SUPPOSED to be biased. They should cast their votes based on who they think is best, and that means having an opinion. Regardless, they still vote with the voice of the people a vast majority of the time.

    Yes, and the fact that they still vote with the people is showing how the system FAILS.

    Now, as for campaigning, it really isn't any different from what goes on now anyway. Getting rid of the EC solves other problems though.

    It seems to me personally, that the intent of the EC was to preserve the autonomy and independence of the individuals states.
    people do not elect presidents, STATES elect presidents!
    See my point? without an EC, we become nothing more than one big state, discarding any sense of Federalism and develop into the United State of America.


    Yes, that's the idea in the case of the Presidency. Isn't he the ONE leader for the WHOLE of the United States? We're not voting for Governors here... And that brings us to the point of those of you who have said things like "the President will campaign more often in larger states.." What's so a) bad about that? He wants to reach more people at the same time, so he goes to the more densly filled areas. It's not about states. Anyways, why should smaller states get a magnified vote? And b) different about that now? The Candidates already make sure they campaign in the larger states.
  6. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    "The obvious solution is the electoral college. Even though the electors often vote the way the majority of people in their state voted, they are guaranteed to have a better understanding of each candidate's policies, which means they can are situated to make better, more informed, decisions than the ordinary person. Idiots won't get elected just because they had more money to spend on marketing."


    The electors are puppets. It's ceremonial, for all intents and purposes. Anyone who tells you different is either a liar or just really misinformed.
  7. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    I wondered when you'd make an appearance, McCartney . . . [face_devil]

    Emperor_Dan: Yes, and the fact that they still vote with the people is showing how the system FAILS.

    So the system would WORK if they voted the opposite of what everybody liked? :confused: [face_devil]

    Obi-Wan McCartney: The electors are puppets. It's ceremonial, for all intents and purposes. Anyone who tells you different is either a liar or just really misinformed.

    Ceremonial as in it serves no purpose or ceremonial as in the electors are bought and paid for?
  8. Emperor_Dan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 1999
    star 4
    So the system would WORK if they voted the opposite of what everybody liked?

    No, your point is that electors have a brain and an opinion, right? Welll, they always vote how their constituents vote, right? So.. I don't see what good it's doing. The electors are really doing anything anyways - they're just making more trouble.
  9. ShadowDragon Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2002
    star 1
    You assume that non-electors are any less prejudicial. And if you don't, then what difference does it make?

    Of course they are. The parties choose the electors, so they try to find the most biased party loyalists they can find, who would never vote for anybody besides that party's candidate. And if the goal is to find unbiased, completely open people, who would choose those people? The public?
    By no voter fraud, I mean that it is much harder to buy an elector than to cause several thousand votes to be lost.

    "And..."? :) Seriously, though, why would a politician try to buy an elector when he could change a whole set of electors? This would be relevant if public didn't choose the electors (albeit indirectly).
    and...?

    What I was saying is that demographic turnout would make no more of a difference than it currently does. That was a direct refutation of your claim that the electoral college somehow remedies subversion of the system.

    Let's pose a hypothetical to counter your "snazzy ad" argument:
    Let's say that Daschle and Bush run in 2004. It's an extremely close campaign. Let's arbitrarily say that Daschle got 25000 additional votes (500 in each state) because his ads looked more sophisticated than Lott's ads. 500 votes in each state would probably be just as likely to change the EC outcome as 25000 on the national level.

    Just looking back to 2000, it may be possible (however unlikely) that Bush won because people thought his ads were cool or what-have-you. A few hundred of those votes in Florida would mean that was true. While I doubt that was true, the EC wouldn't have helped at all in that situation.
  10. StarFire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2001
    star 4
    Emperor_Dan: No, your point is that electors have a brain and an opinion, right? Welll, they always vote how their constituents vote, right? So.. I don't see what good it's doing. The electors are really doing anything anyways - they're just making more trouble.

    Less trouble, actually. It's much easier to accurately tabulate 538 votes than to attempt the same with several hundred thousands votes.

    ShadowDragon: The parties choose the electors, so they try to find the most biased party loyalists they can find, who would never vote for anybody besides that party's candidate.

    Never? I beg to differ :)

    And if the goal is to find unbiased, completely open people, who would choose those people? The public?

    I'm confused by this statement and something you say later . . .
    Anyhoo, the public does choose those people. Each political party compiles a slate of electors. The candidate who received the most popular votes in a particular state gets their slate of electors approved (for that state), and these electors then vote for President on December 18th.
    This accurately reflects the will of each State in the election.

    Awww, admit it . . . you guys are just sore that Gore lost the election :)
  11. ShadowDragon Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2002
    star 1
    Less trouble, actually. It's much easier to accurately tabulate 538 votes than to attempt the same with several hundred thousands votes.
    Except when those 538 votes are based on the several hundred thousand votes.
    Never? I beg to differ
    Well, they DO seem to be pretty successful. I didn't see any elector vote for anyone other than the candidate of the party that selected them in 2000.
    Anyhoo, the public does choose those people. Each political party compiles a slate of electors.
    OK, so maybe the public does choose a candidate to choose electors to choose a candidate. What I was getting at is that choosing an unbiased person is an inherently biased process.
    This accurately reflects the will of each State in the election.
    No it doesn't. And even if it did, why should the "wills of the states" count for more than the will of the people?
    Awww, admit it . . . you guys are just sore that Gore lost the election
    I can't speak for anyone else here, but... I do think Gore should have won. Under my system, there would have been a run-off election between Bush and Gore only. Judging from polls of Nader voters, Gore would have won that election. In 1992, Bush probably would have won. It's not a partisan issue for me.
  12. ShadowDragon Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2002
    star 1
    Allow me to add some much more general commentary... I think we should use IRV (instant runoff voting) for presidential elections, gubernatorial elections, mayoral elections, etc., where one winner is neccessary. I didn't realize what I described was basically IRV. For congressional elections, we should use proportional representation... Do you guys agree? Disagree? And if I may ask, what exactly is Alternative Vote? Could somebody please clarify that for me? Thanks!
  13. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I think it should be harder to vote rather than easier. If a person cannot find the time, then they don't need to vote. It's an expression of our freedom to be able to vote. You forget we DO directly elect Senators, Representatives, etc. to the National Gov't. We also directly elect countless local and state officeholders.

    IMO, the Presidency itself is largely ceremonial. Should we banish that office too?
  14. ShadowDragon Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2002
    star 1
    I think it should be harder to vote rather than easier. If a person cannot find the time, then they don't need to vote. It's an expression of our freedom to be able to vote.
    ...except that the very idea of democracy is that everyone deserves a vote, not the select few. Yes, even stupid people, KKK members, and the poor deserve a vote. We shouldn't impose some punishment on those who find it difficult to free up some time on election day. Everyone deserves a vote, not just civically aware types like you and me.
    You forget we DO directly elect Senators, Representatives, etc. to the National Gov't. We also directly elect countless local and state officeholders.
    Hmmm... I agree somewhat. Nat'l senators and reps? No, we divide them up into winner-take-all districts, as required by a 1967 statute. On the local level, cities and counties are just beginning to go to IRV. San Leandro, Oakland, Santa Clara county, and Vancouver in my home state of WA have all approved IRV. San Francisco is voting on the matter this very month. Many areas have non-IRV runoff elections. There's less support for proportional representation, but there are four bills in consideration. Statewide? There are some measures in consideration... All state legislatures are all winner-take-all districts as far as I know. The plurality system used to elect governors and such is a step up. I still prefer IRV though.
    IMO, the Presidency itself is largely ceremonial. Should we banish that office too?
    Ha! If they were ceremonial, then how have Clinton and Bush managed to do so many things? Why do the Dems and Reps spend oh so much money on presidential races? Presidents are hardly the figureheads you say they are. If the president had no power, then sure, I'd support getting rid of the presidency. The fact remains, however, that he does have that power.
  15. Darth_Ignant Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 24, 2001
    star 7
    The Electoral College: Necessary?

    That depends. I haven't done any kind of poll or research, but I would think right now:

    Republicans love the EC

    Democrats want to get rid of the EC

    I know there will be some discrepency, but mostly it is probably that way. 2 Years ago would have beena good time to ask this question. Now that the EC has caused a stir it's hard to be objective about it.

    I don;t vote, and don;t really care, but the EC does seem a little silly to me. I think the over 50% majority or get a top two run off is a better way to be.

    But what the hell do I know?
  16. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    Reference Cook County, Illinois in 1960. There's also a big vote fraud investigation going down in St. Louis - there's talk that a 199 referenum, as well as the 2000 gubernatorial and Senate races may have been affected by vote fraud.

    It might not be a bad idea to spend time and effort to see how many people on the rolls are dead, reside in vacant lots, or happen to be cats or dogs.
  17. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Sorry SD but we do directly elect our National Congresspeople. You point out districting, and that's what I meant. Those people in those districts DIRECTLY elect their Representatives.

    So, you want taxpayer money to be spent on making some lazy ass being able to sit in his lazy-boy and select a candidate when he's thinking he's changing channels on the remote? :p

    Every law-abiding person DOES have the right to vote SD. What country are you living in? However, it should not be as easy as going to the bathroom. Democracy takes work. It takes effort.

    SD, any private citizen can spend as much money as they want to be elected.

    Once in office, how much money did Clinton spend? He spent what was APPROPRIATED by Congress. The President himself has very little power domestically. He does have greater power Internationally. But, even then the Sec. of State does most of the major groundwork. Very little power rests solely in the Presidency. He has an administration that divides up other duties amongst themselves.

    BTW, if you want proportional representation take a look at Italy. They have a proportional system and it's out-of-control. They've switched governments more often than Hugh Hefner switches girlfriends. All seven. ;)
  18. ShadowDragon Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2002
    star 1
    It might not be a bad idea to spend time and effort to see how many people on the rolls are dead, reside in vacant lots, or happen to be cats or dogs.
    Oh, I absolutely agree.
    So, you want taxpayer money to be spent on making some lazy ass being able to sit in his lazy-boy and select a candidate when he's thinking he's changing channels on the remote?
    We shouldn't have the power to decide who should and shouldn't vote. If somebody wants to vote, he sure as well ought to be able to do so. By the same token, I'm against compulsory voting. If somebody doesn't want to vote, said person shouldn't have to vote. Making it difficult to vote amounts to giving the "right to vote" to only those with a strong enough will to vote and a free schedule. Weak-willed people should be able to vote too, ya know. I don't see "democracy takes work" as a valid excuse to make it as hard as possible to vote. Allow me to look at your argument.

    "Medical care takes work." Should we force would-be patients to make it to the hospital on their own? By your argument, if they can't expend that much effort, they don't need medical care. I honestly don't see how that's any different than your example with voting.
    SD, any private citizen can spend as much money as they want to be elected.
    Yup. What does that have to do with anything I said!? The only parallel I can see is with my speaking about the parties spending so much money on the presidency. If the presidency had no power, then why would the parties spend so much on getting their guys into it?
    He has an administration that divides up other duties amongst themselves.
    I think you're confusing delegation of power and lack of power. Even so, Bush just recently imposed tariffs on steel imports. That's not a minor decision by any stretch of the imagination.

    Hmmm.... Italy tends to be cited pretty often as an example against PR. Italy's a pretty poor example. Historically, Italy has been unstable under every system it has tried. I think the problems in Italy are from deep ideological and religious rifts, factionalism, and corruption, not their method of ballot counting. There are stable PR countries and instable PR countries. I wouldn't be so rash as to attribute it to PR.
  19. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Good points SD. Fair enough. I cry Uncle. ;)
  20. Emperor_Dan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 1999
    star 4
    Up - this is a good thread.
  21. Aurra_Sting Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 1
    This is indeed a good thread. I'm confused as to why all the electoral votes from one state go to one candidate. Why isn't it proportionaly? Then the states still get their say, and so do the citizens. I think the idea behind the Electoral College is a good one, but it really bothers me that if 51% of the people vote one way and 49% go the other way (and in a state like California that's a lot of people) every one of the votes goes to the 51% candidate.
  22. Maveric Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 17, 1999
    star 4
    That falls squarely at the feet of each state's legislature. The Constitution states that each state will decide for themselves how to choose electors and divide the vote. Only two states (Maine and Nebraska) do not use the winner take all system. Maine uses a district system. They have four votes, two House districts, and two Senators. In 2000, Bush got one district's vote, and Gore the other. Gore won the majority of votes in Maine, so the other two votes that represented the Senators went to him as well.

    I had hoped that after the 2000 debacle we would actually see electoral reform by 2004, but I think it is unlikely.
  23. Imrahil Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 22, 2000
    star 4
  24. SaberGiiett7 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2002
    star 6
    Its more a matter of the deterration of what process's America was founded on if we get rid of.
  25. GeistDesFritz Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 3
    Yes, I think the Electoral College is necessary. It was started by the US's founding fathers as a means of protecting the government and the people from their own fickleness.
    It also evens out the playing field between the different regions of the US. Without an electoral college, it would only be the mass population centers that would elect the president, ie, the West Coast, Texas, Chicago, and the East Coast. The rest of the country would simply not matter in any election. Being from Kansas, I would prefer it if my vote did continue to count when electing the electors who pick the president.
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