Skip to comments.Abolish the Electoral College
Posted on 08/28/2004 11:34:36 PM PDT by Former Military Chick
When Republican delegates nominate their presidential candidate this week, they will be doing it in a city where residents who support George Bush have, for all practical purposes, already been disenfranchised. Barring a tsunami of a sweep, heavily Democratic New York will send its electoral votes to John Kerry and both parties have already written New York off as a surefire blue state. The Electoral College makes Republicans in New York, and Democrats in Utah, superfluous. It also makes members of the majority party in those states feel less than crucial. It's hard to tell New York City children that every vote is equally important - it's winner take all here, and whether Senator Kerry beats the president by one New York vote or one million, he will still walk away with all 31 of the state's electoral votes.
The Electoral College got a brief spate of attention in 2000, when George Bush became president even though he lost the popular vote to Al Gore by more than 500,000 votes. Many people realized then for the first time that we have a system in which the president is chosen not by the voters themselves, but by 538 electors. It's a ridiculous setup, which thwarts the will of the majority, distorts presidential campaigning and has the potential to produce a true constitutional crisis. There should be a bipartisan movement for direct election of the president.
The main problem with the Electoral College is that it builds into every election the possibility, which has been a reality three times since the Civil War, that the president will be a candidate who lost the popular vote. This shocks people in other nations who have been taught to look upon the United States as the world's oldest democracy. The Electoral College also heavily favors small states. The fact that every one gets three automatic electors - one for each senator and a House member - means states that by population might be entitled to only one or two electoral votes wind up with three, four or five.
The majority does not rule and every vote is not equal - those are reasons enough for scrapping the system. But there are other consequences as well. This election has been making clear how the Electoral College distorts presidential campaigns. A few swing states take on oversized importance, leading the candidates to focus their attention, money and promises on a small slice of the electorate. We are hearing far more this year about the issue of storing hazardous waste at Yucca Mountain, an important one for Nevada's 2.2 million residents, than about securing ports against terrorism, a vital concern for 19.2 million New Yorkers. The political concerns of Cuban-Americans, who are concentrated in the swing state of Florida, are of enormous interest to the candidates. The interests of people from Puerto Rico scarcely come up at all, since they are mainly settled in areas already conceded as Kerry territory. The emphasis on swing states removes the incentive for a large part of the population to follow the campaign, or even to vote.
Those are the problems we have already experienced. The arcane rules governing the Electoral College have the potential to create havoc if things go wrong. Electors are not required to vote for the candidates they are pledged to, and if the vote is close in the Electoral College, a losing candidate might well be able to persuade a small number of electors to switch sides. Because there are an even number of electors - one for every senator and House member of the states, and three for the District of Columbia - the Electoral College vote can end in a tie. There are several plausible situations in which a 269-269 tie could occur this year. In the case of a tie, the election goes to the House of Representatives, where each state delegation gets one vote - one for Wyoming's 500,000 residents and one for California's 35.5 million.
The Electoral College's supporters argue that it plays an important role in balancing relations among the states, and protecting the interests of small states. A few years ago, this page was moved by these concerns to support the Electoral College. But we were wrong. The small states are already significantly overrepresented in the Senate, which more than looks out for their interests. And there is no interest higher than making every vote count.
Making Votes Count: Editorials in this series remain online at nytimes.com/makingvotescount.
Wow the NY times is 2 for 2. But, wasn't this what Hill was pushing after the last election.
If so the Times will use her to push their agenda. Clinto/Times the agenda is the same.
Oh great, now the dems can go crazy with vote fraud.
The leaders of most other nations are not elected by majorites, but by pluralities (rather like all Democrat Presidents since 1944, except Johnson and Carter). In the parliamentary regimes, the voters don't even get to choose their leaders - the parties do, and then the voters get merely the choice of party or local party representative if they are lucky (as in Canada and Britain).
This nation does not elect any federal officials in a nationwide ballot... why should the President be different?
Do it for the children. LoL!
Apparently the Slimes does not understand the reasin that our founders set up the elecotral college. Small states are NOT over represented if anything they are under represented. If you want to go to a straight popular vite then last time around you would have ended up with Gore. The whole point of the electoral college is to make candidates work for votes from states and areas they would otherwise pass up. Look at the Bush Gore map of 2000....Gore came dangerously close to winning by focusing on the large population centers thus leaving out MOST of the rest of the country. The electoral college is massively better than ANY other possible voting suggestion that I have ever read....Read some history, under stand the nature of a republic, keep the electoral college
Electoral College is great, There should be a limit on the number of electors from a state before a state needs to split into two. California is insane, that monster needs to be split into three states.
Without the EC, candidates would just focus on NY, CA, TX, FL and a handful of coastal mega states. Soon, the fedgov representing these mega states would carve up the "hinterland" into a series of virtual colonies.
Of course, the NYT would love this outcome.
The founding fathers were brilliant.
"This shocks other nations!" -- NYT
We just gotta change the US Constitution!
The way that state votes, it might do well to find another way. Different parts of CA vote with the conservatives. They are just outmanned do to the rest of the state. imho
I bet that one would only have to go back a few months ago to find a Times editorial decrying any attempt to change the Constitution. Just run a search on the "Defense of Marriage Amendment."
Edited for intellectual honesty. If they're going to advocate radical alterations in the U.S. Constitution, they should -- at the barest minimum -- be honest as to precisely why they're so desperate to do so.
The Slimes need a history lesson.
Straight from the NY Slimes: Support for Tyranny of the Minority..
scrapping the system? NO WAY!
I thought hillary was going to get right on this about 4 years ago.The NYT would be much better off seriously investigating the charges against Kerry rather than batting the air with proposals to change the constitution. As it stands if the NYT likes something I'm against it.
Absolutely. If the popular vote was all that counted, candidates would campaign in the Northeast and the West Coast, with the occasional layover in Chicago. Screw the rest of the nation. It's a terrible idea.
This is the very reason that we should instead go back to the original system where the Senate chose both the President and the VP.
Our Founding Fathers were smarter than we realized.