Who’s voting for the president? Not you. We live in a society where your vote doesn’t directly count during a presidential election. This is due to an antiquated system called the electoral college. The electoral college (EC) was founded in 1787. The founding fathers set up the system so that the president is chosen indirectly. This was done so that “popular passion,” wouldn’t factor in as much. Basically they didn’t want presidential campaigns to become purely advertisement campaigns. (third party times) But there are a few serious flaws in the electoral college that need to be dealt with. For example, the well known Democratic motto “one man, one vote,” (which means every vote counts) doesn’t apply to presidential elections because of the EC. The electoral college makes it possible for a candidate who wins the popular vote of the people to lose the presidency. (electoral college) This has happened exactly 3 times in the past. Once in 1876, and once in 1888, and most recently during the 2000 elections. President Bush lost the popular vote to candidate Al Gore by over 500,000 votes. Bush still won the presidency because Florida (a key state in elections) had a last minute change in the electoral votes. This threw the entire state into a republican vote. “On two other occasions (1800 and 1824), the House of Representatives 2 picked the president when nobody won an electoral-college majority.
Thomas Jefferson once described this circumstance as ‘the most dangerous blot on our Constitution.’ ” (electoral college) Lawrence P. Longley and Neal R. Pierce, two experts on the electoral college and Harvard teachers, agree wholeheartedly with Jefferson’s statement. They know full well the weaknesses of the EC. They did some calculations to illustrate this point further. Californians have over two times as much voting power as do people in Montana because of the population differences. Even worse than that is, if even a few votes change in some key states it can change the whole outcome of an election. e.g. the 2000 Florida elections.
There have been 22 razor close elections in our history one of which was ” the 1960 race between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon–if 8,971 votes in Illinois and Missouri had switched from Kennedy to Nixon that year, the result would have been an electoral college deadlock.” (electoral college) Longley and Peirce argue that “it’s only a matter of time before it breaks down completely. The President of the United States is elected indirectly by the electoral college — an archaic and quirky system that threatens every four years to overturn popular will.” (electoral college) To top it all off, the people we choose to vote for the president aren’t even required to keep their pledges. “In 24 states and the district of Columbia, electors are 3 not bound by any state law or regulation that they vote for the states popular vote winner.” (civic values) For example in 1988 an elector pledged to Michael Dukakis changed his pledge to Lloyd Bentsen.
Also it happened in 1976 when an elector pledged to Gerald Ford voted for Ronald Reagan instead. These are just a few of the instances involving “faithless electors” a term used for electors who change their pledge. The question is what do we do about these problems? The answer is simple, we change the EC. (civic values) There are three basic plans for changing the way the EC works. The first is called the proportional method. This particular option hasn’t been researched as much as the others. Basically if a candidate receives 58 percent of the popular vote then they also receive 58 percent of the electoral vote. This reflects popular will and lets the electors keep their jobs. The problem with this method is that it would require support from every state. (election reform) The second is the plan to abolish the electoral college completely. This is a very simple plan which is becoming increasingly popular. If you were to eliminate the EC it would better reflect the popular vote, get rid of the possibility of “faithless electors,” and it might increase voter turnout. (election reform) In order to get rid of the EC entirely you would need two thirds of the house of Representatives and the Senate and 38 states to agree that it needs to be changed. 4 and though abolishing the EC is fast becoming a popular idea (especially since the 2000 elections) there is still not enough support for the idea. The harsh reality is that there probably will never be enough support.
This is because the very people who’s jobs depend on the existence of the electoral college are the ones making a substantial amount of the decision whether or not to keep it. (civic values) Luckily there’s a solution. Instead of getting rid of the electoral college just alter it a little bit. The third plan is called the District Method. This could be a good option, because instead of having the entire state swing towards one political party for the electoral vote, now a state could be divided into smaller parts . This would better represent the popular vote and therefore the people. Another reason that the District Method may work is that you don’t need a constitutional amendment. Even if only a few states adopted this method it would be effective. Also it’s a good compromise . The electoral college is still in play, so supporters of it wouldn’t protest. In addition the people would have more of a say in who their president is .
And that’s what really matters. (election reform) Now you can see that the popular vote, which our country was founded on as a democracy , can be thwarted to fit the whims of the electoral college. Our basic rights of choosing the people who govern us do not apply in the case of presidential elections which are the most important elections. This cannot stand. When our forefathers wrote the constitution, the United States was much 5 smaller and the people were better represented because they were in smaller groups. That isn’t the case today. Things have changed and we as a society must change with the times. If not, any self appointed dictator could pay or persuade him or herself into power with potentially detrimental results. Make your vote count. Petition to change the electoral college. 6
Work Cited Page
“Electoral College.” Web News: Product reviews. 11/9/2003. Harvard Electoral College Experts. Dec. 2000 http://www.webdesk.com/electoral-college/ Third Party Times. The Electoral College System. 1992, League of Womens Voters of California Education fund. http://www.ksg.harvard.edu./case/3pt/electoral.html Electionreform.org. 2001. Election Reform. http://www.electionreform.org.ERMain/priorities/ec/reform.htm Civic-Values State Lawmakers Mull Electoral College. Nov.2000. http://civic.net/civic-values.archive/200011/msg00181.html