Electoral College System Essay
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The Electoral College system is a part of the United States Constitution. It has been present since the creation of the nation. There has never been a United States presidential election not determined by the Electoral College system (Kuroda 127). In the first presidential election of 1789 George Washington was awarded 69 electoral votes to win his first term as the first president of the fledgling nation.
The idea of eliminating what is seen as an archaic and unwieldy form of election has been considered for years, but what most politicians have found is that it is never easy to amend the United States Constitution, particularly in favor of an unknown.
People believe they have a system, that while cumbersome and antiquated, still functions as the founding fathers intended it to do.
With some of the founding fathers of the opinion that the average citizen was not well enough informed to make a logical or wise decision as to who should succeed to the highest office in the land, it was thought to be imminently better for a Congress to elect the president.
When that idea was defeated, the proponents settled for having a group of unbound electors be sent to the capital each four years, and there decide for the people. Writing in the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton said: It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided.
This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any pre-established body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture. (par. 2) And still today, while the electors are faithful to the point that an unfaithful elector is an aberration, the fact remains that electors have options and can, if they wish, simply deny the will of the people (Archives. gov 1). Besides the fact that the nation has had presidential winners who did not win a majority of the popular vote, which in essence denies the will of the people, this system is maintained (Abbott and Levine 21).
There is a need for, at the very least, a major over-haul of the system, and possibly a totally new approach, allowing for the direct election of the president by the popular vote of the American people. The arguments in favor of the Electoral College are specious today, particularly in regard to the people being informed enough to make a decision, and for that reason, as well as numerous others, the Electoral College should be discarded in favor of a system which better expresses the will of We the People.
The present system has its advocates, and they make some good points in favor of not scraping the Electoral College. They rightly point out that such an act would not only be difficult, requiring a Constitutional amendment, necessitating a two-thirds majority of both house of Congress to agree, but also three-fourths of all the states would also have to acquiesce on the matter. They point out that in the past there have only been 27 amendments to this blueprint of government so well written by the nation’s founders.
They also point out that some amendments have proven to be national disasters, such as Amendment 18. This system, they argue, has served the nation for over near 220 years and it simply is not wise to exchange a system which works for an unknown, which could result in chaos or even massive civil disturbance. It offers, they argue, both parity and equity to the smaller states, which would have virtually no voice in a direct election system. Then comes the question of what system would be better. There are several ideas being floated occasionally as trial balloons.
The Congressional District method has been proposed. It comes with its own problems, however, and fails to address some of the more troubling aspects of the Electoral College system. This system proposes that each Congressional District be given one vote and allotting the two Senatorial votes as a bonus for the winner of the statewide popular vote. Maine and Nebraska currently use this method. First, this system does not correct one of the perceived flaws of the current system, which is the extraordinarily disproportionate weight given the vote of citizens of less populous states.
Under the present system Wyoming is given one electoral vote per 165,000 citizens, while Texas is given one electoral vote per 652,000 citizens. This makes the vote of a Wyoming citizen worth four times that of a Texas citizen. Secondly the Congressional District proposal does not take into account the self-serving gerrymandering which tends to carve up American votes as if in a feudal system, making incumbents virtually bullet-proof, so to speak, and guaranteeing a vote for the party in power when the district was drawn.
Frequently Joe Six-pack will grumble and insist that the election should be decided in a winner-take-all popular vote. This system, usually put forth as a “Direct Vote with Plurality Rule” has its good points and its bad. It harkens back to the days of the Greek city-states, when the citizens of Athens would all gather to directly vote for their candidate. Under this system the Electoral College would be eliminated, which would require the above-mentioned amendment to the United States Constitution, which could take years to effect.
Simplistically, this system would award the presidency to the candidate with the most popular votes, irrespective of whether he or she garners a majority. This system would not prevent the spoiler-effect from occurring when third-party candidates dilute the vote of one major party candidate, allowing the other to move ahead in the popular vote. And, in theory, a wide field of candidates could dilute the vote to such an extent that a winner could be declared although only winning a small plurality, should the field be large enough. With this concern, and the necessity to amend the Constitution, there are surely better alternatives.