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TV time
01-21-2004, 01:14 AM
After George W. Bush became President despite getting fewer votes than Al Gore nationwide, I heard a number of calls for abolition or at least reform of the electoral college.

But that died down in less than three months. Why?

Do we want another President who loses the popular vote yet gets elected?

TV

robby
01-21-2004, 01:43 AM
Because the American public, collectively, has about a 15-minute attention span...

codzilla
01-21-2004, 03:01 AM
Because the American public, collectively, has about a 15-minute attention span...

That is surly part of it, not the whole picture though. I think the Electoral College is one of the real features that acts to distinguish American democracy from other democracy in the world. We do not like people criticizing our democracy—it’s American and the best in the world. As Americans we think people with proportional reprehensive systems in democracy are foolish.

Democrats in America just want to be a little different, it makes us feel better than everyone else. If I had it my way the constitution would be re-written with every generation, in fact I think its about time to blow the whole thing up and start over right now.

RTFirefly
01-21-2004, 05:52 AM
Short of nuclear war, nothing would scare me more than the US Constitution being periodically torn up and rewritten. The likelihood of the Bill of Rights surviving such rewrites in anything approaching decent shape is minimal, IMHO. But that's really for another thread.

Getting back to this one, the party that occupies the White House and controls both houses of Congress has become emotionally committed to the current EC structure as a result of 2000; it is now an article of faith for them, and will undoubtedly continue to be so for awhile. It's also a tactical advantage for them in a close election that they'd be reluctant to part with: the low-pop states that have more electors per voter under the present system are mostly GOP states.

So there's no near-term hope of going to either direct elections or a more sensible EC system, and the Dems know it and aren't going to waste their energy there.

Reader99
01-21-2004, 06:43 AM
The electoral college concept still serves its original purpose, in that its gives citizens of every state some say in who becomes President. Without it, just going by the popular vote, it would be at least theoretically possible for a candidate to campaign solely in a few population centers, like Southern California, New York, Texas and Florida, and win the White House without any support anywhere else.

One reform/improvement that would not require a Constitutional amendment would be to eliminate the "winner take all" aspect of the Presidential election process. Nothing in the Constitution says that a state must award all of its electoral votes to the one candidate with the majority or plurality of the votes cast, and in fact some states choose to divide the votes among the leading candidates in proportion to the popular vote. If this had been applied in Florida in 2000, there would have been no Constitutional crisis. Bush and Gore would each have gotten 12.5 electoral votes, or maybe they could have been split 12 and 12, with Nader getting 1. Under these circumstances Gore would have been elected President with a majority of the electoral votes. On the other hand, if all states applied the same rule in the same way, Bush might still have won the White House, because he would have picked up electoral votes in several states where he lost the popular vote very narrowly.

The point is that the states could change their procedures by state legislation. No federal amendment would be required. A change along these lines would bring the electoral college vote totals more closely in line with the popular vote and would make a Florida-style crisis much less likely, yet would preserve the basic intention of making every state valuable to the candidate.

RTFirefly
01-21-2004, 12:13 PM
The electoral college concept still serves its original purpose, in that its gives citizens of every state some say in who becomes President. Without it, just going by the popular vote, it would be at least theoretically possible for a candidate to campaign solely in a few population centers, like Southern California, New York, Texas and Florida, and win the White House without any support anywhere else. With it, that's even more so: 51% of the population in the 11 largest states gets you 271 electoral votes and the Presidency.

That won't happen as long as CA and TX see the world differently. But it's quite plausible that if John Edwards wins the Dem nomination, he could win the Presidency on the basis of a majority in just 13 states: CA, WA, FL, GA, NC, MA, NY, NJ, MD, PA, OH, MI, IL. (Since urban America is 'Blue America', it's really more likely for the Dems to be the beneficiary of such an event than for it to favor the GOP.)
One reform/improvement that would not require a Constitutional amendment would be to eliminate the "winner take all" aspect of the Presidential election process. Nothing in the Constitution says that a state must award all of its electoral votes to the one candidate with the majority or plurality of the votes cast, and in fact some states choose to divide the votes among the leading candidates in proportion to the popular vote. If this had been applied in Florida in 2000, there would have been no Constitutional crisis. Bush and Gore would each have gotten 12.5 electoral votes, or maybe they could have been split 12 and 12, with Nader getting 1. Under these circumstances Gore would have been elected President with a majority of the electoral votes. On the other hand, if all states applied the same rule in the same way, Bush might still have won the White House, because he would have picked up electoral votes in several states where he lost the popular vote very narrowly. There's a strong disincentive for an individual state to enact this change on its own, and here's why.

Say you have two states, both with 10 electoral votes, and both more or less in play in an election. One is winner-take-all, and the other's proportional. The winner-take-all state has 10 electoral votes at stake, while the proportional state has perhaps 2, which is what a swing from between 55 and 65% for Candidate A to 55-65% for Candidate B would gain the lucky candidate. The winner-take-all state will see a lot more of the candidates (and their ads) than the nonproportional state will.

Hell, the proportional state will see less of the candidates and their time than an in-play, winner-take-all state with 3 electoral votes, which is what the smallest states have.

There's also a strong disincentive for the majority party in a state to enact this reform: if your state has 10 electoral votes, and consistently votes for party X, then the state legislature is probably controlled by Party X. The Xers will want the entire 10 electoral votes to go to the X candidate, rather than 6 out of 10: why would they stab their own candidate in the back?

It's a great idea intellectually, but politically as unfeasible as amending the Constitution to change or get rid of the EC.

clayton_e
01-21-2004, 12:50 PM
The electoral college will never change, no matter how outdated it is because it benifits the majority of the states that, together, have a majority of the House of Representatives (the group that would need a 2/3 vote to alter the status of the electoral college).

At least thats how I read it from the Constitution.. correct me if I'm wrong.

ElvisL1ves
01-21-2004, 03:21 PM
Different parties have been in control at different times, but without any effort being made to change the EC. The smaller states have never had a reason to give up their disproportionate power, for one thing. For another, there's never been a consensus, or even solid majority opinion, about what to change it to.

BrainGlutton
01-21-2004, 04:27 PM
The electoral college will never change, no matter how outdated it is because it benifits the majority of the states that, together, have a majority of the House of Representatives (the group that would need a 2/3 vote to alter the status of the electoral college).

At least thats how I read it from the Constitution.. correct me if I'm wrong.

When Susan B. Anthony and other early feminists started agitating for women's suffrage, one could have said, on quite similar grounds, "Women will never get the vote in this country, because the decision to give it to them would have to be made by male politicians who were elected by, and are answerable to, an all-male electorate." Somehow -- after several decades of campaigning -- they got it anyway. Never dismiss a proposed reform just because it appears to be politically impossible.

BrainGlutton
01-21-2004, 04:34 PM
[QUOTE=Reader99]The electoral college concept still serves its original purpose, in that its gives citizens of every state some say in who becomes President. Without it, just going by the popular vote, it would be at least theoretically possible for a candidate to campaign solely in a few population centers, like Southern California, New York, Texas and Florida, and win the White House without any support anywhere else.[QUOTE]

And what, exactly, would be wrong with that?

BrainGlutton
01-21-2004, 04:35 PM
The electoral college concept still serves its original purpose, in that its gives citizens of every state some say in who becomes President. Without it, just going by the popular vote, it would be at least theoretically possible for a candidate to campaign solely in a few population centers, like Southern California, New York, Texas and Florida, and win the White House without any support anywhere else.

And what, exactly, would be wrong with that?

pervert
01-21-2004, 08:15 PM
And what, exactly, would be wrong with that?You and RTFirefly may be missing the way the EC forces parties and candidates for president to appeal to more national politics. The idea, as I understand it, is that politicians do not need to win more than 51% of the vote in these large states. That is, winning more does not do them any good. Therefore, they do not need to propose radical policies which appeal only to the large states. The are free to propose policies which are favorable to smaller states even if they are marginally objectionable to the larger ones.

I agree that a party or presidential candidate could theoretically win national ellections by campaining only in the top 13 states. But that is true of a popular elections as well. The top 13 states have more electoral votes because they have more population. The point I'm making is that politicians don't have to fight for complete control of these states, because they can gain a similar amount of power by advocating policies which benifit all the states and thus get them electoral votes in more places. That is, they can surrender a couple of the top 13 states if by doing so, they can pick up several of the others.

Rashak Mani
01-21-2004, 08:56 PM
The electoral college concept still serves its original purpose, in that its gives citizens of every state some say in who becomes President. Without it, just going by the popular vote, it would be at least theoretically possible for a candidate to campaign solely in a few population centers, like Southern California, New York, Texas and Florida, and win the White House without any support anywhere else.

I might be wrong... but the current system does exactly what you are saying it doesn't. Since only the swing states matter both candidates campaign, not only, but mostly in the swing states ! So even though they do have support elsewhere they barely give heavily balanced states any attention at all.

2sense
01-22-2004, 12:32 AM
Because the American public, collectively, has about a 15-minute attention span... I don't see that they do. Instead I would go along with RTF that this issue isn't front and center because of the perceived unlikelyhood of success given the current climate in Washington DC. Constitutional amendments to abolish the EC passed the House in both 1969 and 1979 only to die in the Senate. Given that our national politics have since moved to the right it seems unlikely today that reform would even get that far. I think the Electoral College is one of the real features that acts to distinguish American democracy from other democracy in the world. We do not like people criticizing our democracy-it’s American and the best in the world. I certainly have no problem criticizing our democracy or lack thereof. I complain all the time and every poll I have seen on the matter, going back to 1950, shows a majority of Americans in favor of abolishing the Electoral College. As Americans we think people with proportional reprehensive systems in democracy are foolish. I don't agree nor have I seen any evidence that all or most or even a lot of Americans agree either. Do you have a cite? It has been my experience that Americans generally don't know how foreign democracies work let alone have formed an opinion on those arraingments. If I had it my way the constitution would be re-written with every generation, in fact I think its about time to blow the whole thing up and start over right now. That makes you, me, and Thomas Jefferson. A hundred million more and we are on our way!


The electoral college concept still serves its original purpose, in that its gives citizens of every state some say in who becomes President. It gives some citizens in every state some say. Without it, just going by the popular vote, all citizens, in every state or elsewhere, would have the same vote.

The EC biases the presidential elections in basically three ways. Between the states the votes are unequal because individuals are voting with varying numbers of people for varying piles of electoral votes. Within each state political power is uneven because only those voting in the majority have any say in who wins due to the fact that all of a state's electoral votes fall to a single candidate. The wishes of those in the minority have no effect on the vote that counts in the electoral college. Outside the states there is no vote at all. Not even the sham of casting a ballot that won't count. Those citizens without residency in a state ( or the federal district ) are disenfranchised completely.


The electoral college will never change, no matter how outdated it is because it benifits the majority of the states that, together, have a majority of the House of Representatives (the group that would need a 2/3 vote to alter the status of the electoral college). I think the actions of the House in '69 and '79 belie this conclusion. Nor is it necessary to amend the Constitution to do away with the Electoral College. As I have explained a few times already in this forum all that is needed is just a regular congressional statute directing the Federal Election Commission to produce an accurate tally of the presidential votes of all qualified American citizens everywhere and the District of Columbia to assign its electors based upon all the votes. The states would be encouraged to do the same and if the 11 "biggest" states go along that's all she wrote. As RTF points out they control a majority of the electoral votes. If they, or any other combination of states with an electoral majority, agree beforehand to assign those votes to the most popular candidate nationwide then effectively we will have a popular vote. Whoever gets the most individual votes will win no matter where they might be cast.


I agree that a party or presidential candidate could theoretically win national ellections by campaining only in the top 13 states. But that is true of a popular elections as well. Both situations are possible but not equally likely. You are overlooking the degree of difficulty in achieving huge margins of victory. In a direct election in order to control an absolute majority only within the most populous states a candidate would need to win, what? 90%, 95% of the vote in each state. Has any presidential candidate ever done that well within a single state? With the EC all a candidate needs is a plurality in those states. More of the votes than anyone else is a lot easier to achieve than practically all the votes. Someone always gets more of the votes.

pervert
01-22-2004, 01:11 AM
Within each state political power is uneven because only those voting in the majority have any say in who wins due to the fact that all of a state's electoral votes fall to a single candidate.I have never understood this argument of yours. You are saying that the only votes which count are the ones in the majority. How would this be different if the election were national?

You are overlooking the degree of difficulty in achieving huge margins of victory.No, this difficulty is precisely my point. The difficulty involved would require parties or national candidates to propose radical policies which would benifit only those 13 (or a couple more) states. Such radical policies would almost have to be to the detriment of the other States. Under our current system parties do not dare such policies. If they misjudge and only get a plurality in the large states, the other party will still have the power to stymie such radical policies. Remove the checks and balances on such geographical majorities and you remove the incentive to make policies which appeal to more broadly based geographic (and to some extent demographic) regions.

I'm not going to link to the Discover article, (google for Alan Natapoff if you are interested), but I would like to reserect the World Series analogy.

There is a good analogy between the World Series and the Electoral College. Specifically that a presidential candidate does not win a single large election. He has to win several smaller ones. It does not matter that he wins by grotesque margins in one or 2 of these small elections if he looses by similar amounts in all the others. What this means is that a presidential candidate has to appeal to larger areas of the country than he might in a straight popular vote. It does mean that it is possible for a president to win without winning the popular vote. Just like the 1960s Yankees could score 55 runs to Pittsburgh's 27 in the world series, and still not win the championship because they lost 4 games to 3.

2sense
01-22-2004, 03:33 AM
I have never understood this argument of yours. You are saying that the only votes which count are the ones in the majority. How would this be different if the election were national? The EC produces a 2 stage vote. In the first stage delegates are elected who then go on to vote in the 2nd. Since the minority in a state doesn't elect any delegates they don't have any say in who wins the deciding vote. Perhaps it will be easier to understand by imagining that a direct national vote had 2 stages. In the imaginary first stage the voters each elect themselves as delegates and then in the 2nd actually cast their ballots. See the difference? The power of the voters in the final tally is exactly proportional and thus everyone is represented equally. Every vote counts.

No, this difficulty is precisely my point. The difficulty involved would require parties or national candidates to propose radical policies which would benifit only those 13 (or a couple more) states.
I lost you. It seems to me that you agree that under a direct vote it is much much much more difficult for a candidate to achieve enough support in populous states to safely ignore voters elsewhere yet paradoxically you claim this makes it more likely to happen. What gives?

Also note that the EC doesn't promote broadly geographic or demographic policy. The EC divides the nation up into districts and thus its influence is similarly atomized. The prototypical EC inspired policy are the infamous steel tariffs. Bush proposed them in 2000 to gain support in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Nevermind that they were a violation of our international agreements. When the WTO agreed they were illegal and authorized retalitory tariffs by our competators knew how to get Bush's attention. They went after industries in other battleground states like Michigan where the President couldn't afford to ignore them. There is no political consideration for the good of the whole because we don't vote as a whole nation. The national interest is put aside in favor of the local interest of the state a candidate needs to win.

There is a good analogy between the World Series and the Electoral College. I'm not sure what you think is so good about that analogy though your simplified version at least has the benefit of being an accurate representation which Natapoff's original did not. I can just as easily describe a direct election as a football game where it doesn't matter if you outscore your opponent in the first, 2nd, and third quarters; you only win if you have the most points at the end of the game. So what? All that shows is that it's not tough to find a sports analogy to fit your position. ( Or for shills like Natapoff that you can shoehorn your policy preference into an analogy even though it doesn't. ) Your analogy certainly doesn't show that a candidate has to appeal to "larger areas of the country". On the contrary, you yourself have just agreed that the EC makes it easier for candidates to gain enough support in certain states to safely ignore others.

And of course it is obvious to anyone who has followed a presidential election that most of the states do, in fact, get ignored. Both sides predict that a mere 15 states are potentially in play: Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, and Florida. That's where the general election will take place.
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pervert
01-22-2004, 04:20 AM
Since the minority in a state doesn't elect any delegates they don't have any say in who wins the deciding vote. [...] In the imaginary first stage the voters each elect themselves as delegates and then in the 2nd actually cast their ballots. OK, but the minority still has no say in who is the president. They did not vote for him, so they were not represented by him. You are claiming that the electors from a state are only representing the majority. Why then do you say a president elected by a majority still represents the whole nation?
It seems to me that you agree that under a direct vote it is much much much more difficult for a candidate to achieve enough support in populous states to safely ignore voters elsewhere yet paradoxically you claim this makes it more likely to happen. What gives?No, you are confusing likely and difficult. The point is that the added difficulty is not rewarded in our current system. In a national election it could be.

And of course it is obvious to anyone who has followed a presidential election that most of the states do, in fact, get ignored.No, it is not. Presidential candidates maintain policies which garner support in states which are "not in play" as you say. They most certainly do not ignore them.

Both sides predict that a mere 15 states are potentially in play: Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, and Florida. That's where the general election will take place.Yes. But that is because the policies advocated by the 2 parties have already decided (to some degree) the elections in the other states. What exactly would change in a national election? Well, I contend that both parties would become even more regional. IF the democrats think they had won California by a hadfull of percentage points, why should they try to win the rest of the state? In a national election there is every reason to do so. In the current system, they do not have to.

I'm not sure what you think is so good about that analogy The point of the analogy is that there is a principle involved with contests wherein simple addition of score may not be suficient to demonstrate the "best" or winning team. The idea is that a good presidential candidate should have to spread his support around the country. And that this spread can be measured by having many small elections instead of one big one.

Think of it this way. If a national elections were held in 2 stages where the first stage elected the winning voters to an electoral college. Everyone's vote would count, butthe final decision would only be made by the people who voted for the winner of the first stage. :)

aahala
01-22-2004, 07:31 AM
Part of the reason there has not been much active support in changing or eliminating the electoral college, is that it is only used once every four years, almost no one thinks much about it inbetween and we rarely have election results where it's use appear "unseemly" or unfair. So few voters remember a prior bad effect.

Also, the side that benefits from winning with the fewer votes is then in power and has little interest in a change that confirms they won thru an inferior system.

It's main function to Joe Six-Pack, is that it allows him to know the winner before bedtime(usually).

erislover
01-22-2004, 11:48 AM
Abolish it in favor of strict majority voting? Or will we adopt some other voting system?

2sense
01-23-2004, 05:50 PM
OK, but the minority still has no say in who is the president. They did not vote for him, so they were not represented by him. You are claiming that the electors from a state are only representing the majority. Why then do you say a president elected by a majority still represents the whole nation? Because the president was elected by the whole nation. The objection isn't that the minority lost. The objection is that the minority didn't get to vote. On the ballot that mattered, the final one, they had no say because all of the political power of their state, including theirs, was given to a candidate they opposed. There are some issues I am skirting here to avoid my tendency to digress into incoherency but I should note that I reject the notion of an elector as a representative in the sense laid out by Hamilton (http://memory.loc.gov/const/fed/fed_68.html). The job of an elector is to be faithful to the candidates they are pledged to vote for and not rely on their own judgement. No, you are confusing likely and difficult. The point is that the added difficulty is not rewarded in our current system. In a national election it could be. C'mon now, did you honestly suppose I couldn't tell the difference between "likely" and "difficult"? Really?

I have to admit that I'm not sure at all what you are trying to say. My position here is that the EC makes it easier for a candidate to be elected while completely ignoring the wishes of certain voters. That's why I objected to your unqualified statement that both a popular vote and the electoral college vote could be won by campaigning in only the 13 most populous states. Presidential candidates maintain policies which garner support in states which are "not in play" as you say. They most certainly do not ignore them. Both political parties have a national base and no, it can't be ignored. A candidate can't come out in favor of death by torture to appease Texans, for instance. The base of the party wouldn't go along. But regional issues are a different story. Bush couldn't ignore the tariff threat to the auto industry because Michigan is in play but there wasn't the same pressure on him to become involved in the California energy crisis at the begining of his term because he wasn't going to win Cali in 2004 anyway. Well, I contend that both parties would become even more regional. IF the democrats think they had won California by a hadfull of percentage points, why should they try to win the rest of the state? In a national election there is every reason to do so. In the current system, they do not have to. The EC creates differences between voters. Some are more desirable based upon where they live than others. In a national election every vote is equal so politicians aren't encouraged to pander to the wants of a select group and ignore the desires of others. Why would you think this would make politics more regional? Presidential candidates would be encouraged to reach out to everyone since now every vote would help them no matter where it was cast. Think of it this way. If a national elections were held in 2 stages where the first stage elected the winning voters to an electoral college. Everyone's vote would count, butthe final decision would only be made by the people who voted for the winner of the first stage This doesn't describe a national election but rather the system we have now. Notice that not everyone has a vote in the 2nd stage, the one that counts. In a direct election no one is disenfranchised.
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Abolish it in favor of strict majority voting? Or will we adopt some other voting system? Is this directed at me? If so my plan only allows us to move to a majority vote. The difficulty is that each state controls the selection of their own electors so the Congress can't just pass a law requiring some form of IRV. A regular runoff election is possible though. The law can state that if no candidate has a majority then the winner shall be the one of the 2 most popular candidates in the general election that receives the most votes in the runoff in those states and territories which choose to hold one.

pervert
01-23-2004, 06:26 PM
The objection isn't that the minority lost. Right. But this is patently false. Imagine again, if we held a national election. Then we held a second stage. In this second stage only those who voted for the winner of the first stage could vote. Further, they could only vote for the winner of the first stage. Notice how this is a superflous vote? Notice how simply adding a second stage does not disenfranchise the losers of the first stage?

I'll agree that iron clad requirements for electors to vote for the candidates they are assigned to do not exist. But the current political reality is that electors who vote otherwise are very rare to the point of being non existant. As I said before, we can argue about the fringes of the system. But the basic properties of the Electoral College do not constitute disenfranchisement.

C'mon now, did you honestly suppose I couldn't tell the difference between "likely" and "difficult"? Really? No, certainly not. I misspoke. I meant that I had conflated the two words. I was not trying to assign a probability to a particular outcome. I was merely trying to discuss the following:

I have to admit that I'm not sure at all what you are trying to say. My position here is that the EC makes it easier for a candidate to be elected while completely ignoring the wishes of certain voters. My point is the exact oposite. Given that the EC requires winning 50% plus in the most poulous 13 states while a direct election would require much more than 50%. My point is that the EC gives no advantage to a candidate which gains much more than 50%. So, candidates do not radically change thier platforms to gain 80% or 90% in the most popular states. They devise policies which play to the nation as a whole. And those policies which are very regionalized, they downplay or modify in some way so as not to offend the other regions. It has a nationalizing effect.


That's why I objected to your unqualified statement that both a popular vote and the electoral college vote could be won by campaigning in only the 13 most populous states.Right. I agree with you that the way in which winning the 13 most populous states works would be different.

The EC creates differences between voters.No, I believe it simply acknowledges certain differences which exist.

In a national election every vote is equal so politicians aren't encouraged to pander to the wants of a select group and ignore the desires of others.This seems intuitively obvious. I used to think so too. But it requires ignoring regional differences which exist seperate from the election process.

Presidential candidates would be encouraged to reach out to everyone since now every vote would help them no matter where it was cast.Quite. But policies would still be regional. You can't get the same votes in Idaho for a new desalinization plant as you can in California or New York. Policies which appeal only to one of the more populous states become much more attractive because every vote you get over 50% counts as much as the votes you might lose in other states.

Notice that not everyone has a vote in the 2nd stage, the one that counts. In a direct election no one is disenfranchised.Right. But since the second election is entirely determined by the first, no one is disenfranchised by the second stage either.

HomerIU
01-25-2004, 12:11 AM
I would like to specifically respond to the World Series vs. Electoral college analogy. SHortly after the 2000 vote, I read that whole argument about how the EC is the best system and in a nutshell, after a long consdieration of what was being said and hearing about the World Series analogy, I didn't buy it.

There are two reasons why I didn't buy it. One, EC and World Series analogy is invalid. The World Series analogy would appply if we had 50 equally populated staes, but we do not. We have 50 very unequally populated states. In the World Series, each game counts equally towards the necessary four to win it all. This is not true in the EC. The two would be the same if they did the series this way : We'll play one game that is 26 innings long, one game that is four innnings long and five others with lengths somewhere in between. Each game is weighted according to how long it is. The four inning game is worth four points and the 26 inning game is worth 26 points, etc. There is no splitting up the points in a game, so winner takes all the points. Whoever wins the majority of the points is the World Series champion. Obviously this is a ridiculous way to do it. Same for the EC, in my opinion.

Of course there is another way you could make it more like the Series : One district equals one EC vote, rest of the state doesn't matter. In other words, its not winner take all in each state. You would have to have ALL states agree on this, though, or else you may end up with California keeping the old system and just amplifying the power of their major populations districts over every other state that adopts the new system, making it even more unfair.

The second reason I did not buy the argument was this (if its the same guy we are talking about ) : The premise of the argument was that the best system was one in which one vote could "turn" (change the results) of the whole election. I don't agree with that. The best election is one in which each vote counts equally. That is not true in the current system. It would be much closer to being true if they went to a one vote per district system.

Trinopus
01-25-2004, 12:32 AM
Seems to me one big problem is in human nature... We actually do pay attention (yuck!) to political advertising. Those millions that they spend on attack ads really do work!

That means (alas!) that our system is geographically dominated by "media markets." You can reach a hell of a lot more people, per dollar, in Los Angeles and Chicago than you can in Cheyenne and Metairie.

The EC artificially compensates for that -- which, in my opinion, is a good thing.

Question: when the framers came up with it, were they, too, thinking about the power of the press and the function of communication? Were they trying to give a little extra influence to the frontiersman at the expense of the masses in large cities?

Anyway, even though it would probably benefit my (liberal) agenda if the EC were abolished, I don't favor doing so at this time. It may seem wrong that some bloke in Wyoming has a vote that counts three times as much as mine...but it makes up for his disadvantages in living so far from the centers of power and influence.

Trinopus

Nightime
01-25-2004, 12:58 AM
What are the arguments against having all the states divide their electoral votes proportionally to the popular vote in that state?


That seems like the perfect solution to me - people in smaller states would still have votes that counted many times more than people in bigger states, but at the same time politicians could not simply ignore any state that wasn't evenly divided.

pervert
01-25-2004, 01:04 AM
In the World Series, each game counts equally towards the necessary four to win it all. This is not true in the EC. The two would be the same if they did the series this way : We'll play one game that is 26 innings long, one game that is four innnings long and five others with lengths somewhere in between. Each game is weighted according to how long it is. The four inning game is worth four points and the 26 inning game is worth 26 points, etc. There is no splitting up the points in a game, so winner takes all the points. Whoever wins the majority of the points is the World Series champion. Obviously this is a ridiculous way to do it.Why? You could also simply add up the total points scored from all of the pre championship games and have done with the championship series altogether. The principle remains the same.

I'm not sure that the comparison was intended to go that far. It was not suggested that the World Series of Baseball is a perfect model of the EC. It was only suggested that a multy game contest is not necessarily unfair, and can in some instances lead to the choosing of better champions than simply adding up the points. Also, the states are not divided into different populations for EC purposes. The are divided into different size populations because they are. The EC weights state power in the EC as a comprimise between State rights and Population control of the Presidency.

[QUTOE]The premise of the argument was that the best system was one in which one vote could "turn" (change the results) of the whole election. I don't agree with that. The best election is one in which each vote counts equally. [/QUOTE]It is the same guy Alan Nattopoff. The idea of "turning" an election is a way to measure the power of particular voting systems. If national voting elections are best, as you say, then they should be so even using this system. It has been argued extensively in the past that this is exactly so. Natapoff simply sugested that a simple analysis of elections is misleading. He suggested that when electorates have biases then a districted election provides more power for everyone.

pervert
01-25-2004, 01:10 AM
That means (alas!) that our system is geographically dominated by "media markets." You can reach a hell of a lot more people, per dollar, in Los Angeles and Chicago than you can in Cheyenne and Metairie. Interesting perspective. I hadn't thought of it this way.

Question: when the framers came up with it, were they, too, thinking about the power of the press and the function of communication? Were they trying to give a little extra influence to the frontiersman at the expense of the masses in large cities?I don't think they were thinking about communications in anything like the way we were. Originally, of course, the EC was not meant to be influenced at all by popular elections. It was meant to be a state by state convention to which individuals would be apointed by State controlled processes. The individual conventions would send their choices for president to Congress. The idea originally was that each convention would consider anyone they wanted. They did not envision national campaigns for president. In fact it was considered rude to seek the office for several administrations. This is a pdf with a brief history of the EC. (http://www.fec.gov/pdf/eleccoll.pdf)

pervert
01-25-2004, 01:22 AM
What are the arguments against having all the states divide their electoral votes proportionally to the popular vote in that state?As I suggested before, it provides an incentive to gain more popularity in those areas where you can gain more votes. That is, if you develop policies which heavily favor California voters you might be tempted to offer them under the current system. But you might also want to alleviate the policy's distastefullness towards the other states. The reason for this is that you need to win lots of state elections. It does not matter if you win them by 51% or 90%. So you will be less inclined to try for a 90% win. You will instead, be more inclined to offer policies which apeal to more states than you will to offer policies which appeal to the large states exclusively.

This seems to be a hard concept to express. I have not done so to my satisfaction yet. Let me try it this way. Imagine a direct election. Or even an election in which each congressional district gets 1 vote, and each state gives 2 votes to whoever wins the majority of its congressional districts.

My argument is that under such a system a candidate is much more likely to propose policies favorable to the 13 most populous states regardless of how those policies play to the rest of the country. Imagine, if you will, if presidential elections were about how much pork a candidate would support for particular districts. One party, for instance, proposes that all highways (or other pork projects) built over the next 4 years would be built in those 13 states.

Contrast this to the current political campaigns which talk about doing this or that for the nation as a whole. Now, certainly the policies which are talked about now are engineered to appeal to demographics which the candidate wants to win. But they are also proposed in languages, and to some extent enacted in ways, which allow them to apply to the nation as a whole. This is exactly what we want from our president. If we reduce the EC to congressional districts or elliminate it altogether, we reduce this nationalizing effect that it has on our presidential candidates.

HomerIU
01-25-2004, 01:41 AM
Pervert,

I just don't buy the argument that the EC system does any more good than a popular or "split" EC system at causing a candidate to have a more even campaign over the whole country. If anything, just the opposite is true. The current system encourages the candidates to campaign essentially in the large population centers of the largest states. This is where you get the most "bang for your buck," so to speak. If you control New York City, there is a good chance you win New York as a whole and you can ignore what the rest of the state thinks. Same way with Chicago controlling Illinois, or even say, in my state, Indianpolis controlling Indiana. Indianapolis and the suburbs is highly Republican. In fact, I thought Hamilton county just north of Indiana has somehow been labeled the "most Republican" county in the nation. However, I can guarrantee you that Northwest Indiana, especially up around Chicago, is much less Republican than the rest of the state. For the most part, doesn't matter. Candidates concentrate on the big cities and take the whole state.

In essence, if you take your argument about why a popular vote is bad from a nationwide standpoint (too few states with too much control) and instead apply it to the statewide races, you have the exact reason why I don't like the current EC system : the large populations centers control too much of the outcome.

And back to the World Series and the EC : I see, its an analogy, but not a PERFECT one.....uhhh, OK. That doesn't really answer my criticism of it. I say its a poor analogy at best and doesn't really apply to supporting his argument. I could probably come up with any number of poor analogies to support my argument. If I do so, will it make my viewpoint more valid?

josephcwtnet
01-25-2004, 03:59 AM
I have a solution to the problem in our system.
The problem is NOT necessarily the electoral college.

The problem is that in an election 61% of the population may vote for one way of thinking (be it conservative or liberal), but the cadidate with the remaining 39% will win, because the 61% split their votes,30%31%, between two candidates.

This represents the scenarios of Clinton( Bill only got in because so many conservatives ideallistically voted for Perot) and George W.'s(dem's vote was divided because of Nader) elections.

We need a run-off system. Where everyone can vote idealistically, for who they really want via the general election, then in the run-off they can vote for who they want to win practically speaking.

Does anyone else think that this is the way to go?

Joe

pervert
01-25-2004, 06:37 AM
The current system encourages the candidates to campaign essentially in the large population centers of the largest states. Possibly. But you cannot gain more influence over the candidate by winning more of New York than 51%. So, while you may favor policies which only apply to New York, you will not do so to the extreme exclusion of lesser populous states. Similarly, while you might favor policies which benifit New York City, you will not do so to the extreme exclusion of more rural counties. Since you have to form policies which apeal to more states, you may also have to form policies which apeal to more of a state. Go and look up one of the maps which shows the counties which voted for Bush and Gore. I think this describes the 2000 election perfectly. The vast majority of counties voted for bush. Gore recieved a comensurate number of votes, however, because his apeal was centered in the larger urban areas.

To a certain extent there is nothing wrong with this. If everyone in the country lived in a city, and only 3 or 4 of us lived in the rural counties, you would not want us choosing the president. You certainly would not want us to choose him over everyone else's objection. So, you can't simply use land areas as the determination for voting power. But you have to find a comprimise somewhere in there.

I say its a poor analogy at best and doesn't really apply to supporting his argument.No, it is a very good analogy, just not for the particular characteristics you want to criticize it for. That is, it is a good demonstration that absolute score may not be the best way to measure a champion. Breaking up the score amongst several different games, however, is. It is not meant to be an exact model. That's the difference between an analogy and a model.

pervert
01-25-2004, 06:39 AM
We need a run-off system.Actually I would favor some sort of multiple vote type of system rather than a run off. Something where you have more than 1 vote point and assign them to the various candidates. Alternatively you could simply order the candidates as to your preference. There are several of these schemes out there. Run off elections can be a pretty good burden. We know that the political campaign season is long now. Try making it a few months longer.

Weird_AL_Einstein
01-25-2004, 08:14 AM
Nor is it necessary to amend the Constitution to do away with the Electoral College. As I have explained a few times already in this forum all that is needed is just a regular congressional statute directing the Federal Election Commission to produce an accurate tally of the presidential votes of all qualified American citizens everywhere and the District of Columbia to assign its electors based upon all the votes. The states would be encouraged to do the same and if the 11 "biggest" states go along that's all she wrote.

She'll have to write a bit more than that. Suppose there is a very close election . The losing candidate wants a recount. Does the FEC have the constitutional authority to force every state to do a recount? Even those not participating in this scheme, that had a clear winner? And I dont think you can just dismiss this scenario as "unlikely". Nevermind what just happened in the 2000 elections, a voting system ought to be robust enough to deal with unlikely situations.

Also, I wonder how easy it would really be to "encourage" states to go along with this. I am sure a majority of the citizens of, say, Massachussetts favor doing away with the EC in theory. But, in practice, if faced with the prospect that all their electors would go to George W. if he eked out a bare majority nationwide, in spite of the overwhelming majority of Mass. voters voting for the Democratic nominee (as seems likely), I wonder if they would go through with it. Especially given that the outcome of such a scenario under the old system might have the Democrat winning the White House, in a reverse replay of the 2000 elections.

HomerIU
01-25-2004, 01:32 PM
In a way, we have a runoff system now. The parties choose their nominees based on the primaries and then the winners of the party nomination go against each other. I am not sure what kind of "run off" we need besides that in a (generally) two party system. Most of the non-Democrat/Republican candidates don't garner much of the vote nationwide. Until a viable, consistent third party comes along, I just don't see what the point of a run off system, beyond what we have now, would be. Sure, back in '92 and '96 the Reform party garnered some votes and Clinton won via a plurality rather than majority, but in most elections in the last 50 years its largely a two party race. I would love to see a strong third party come along and force some different scenarios, but until that happens any run off system seems kind of pointless.

Pervert, I guess we just have to agree to disagree about the World Series analogy because I still don't see it as a very good analogy. Also, I do recall seeing a map of the voting by county for the 2000 election and know what you are talking about. What I always have wondered and have never found the answer to was who would have been the winner in 2000 had the EC system been set up so that its one vote per district instead of the current system. After looking at that map I was under the impression Bush would have won easily, but perhaps looks were deceiving. Many of the counties he won out West were likely small and weren't a whole disctrict by themselves. I don't know for sure. I have looked and never been able to find a map based on who won each EC district in the 2000 election.

Nightime
01-25-2004, 02:46 PM
On the other hand, pervert, is it not so that under the current system a president can completely ignore any state in which he knows he has no chance?

If electoral votes were divided proportionally (as is already done in some states) then this would be less likely.

The current system also has the effect of nullifying any vote not for the winner of a state, which causes some people to vote for someone just because they expect them to win.

And have you considered that state borders are somewhat arbitrary? Especially in big states like California, in which Northern and Southern California should probably be different states altogether, a lot of votes are wrongly nullified.

Why should *anyone*, under the current system, campaign for the rural areas of Northern California (where I live, incidentally)?

Or is it that just because we fall in the arbitrary borders of California, that our votes shouldn't count?

Stratocaster
01-25-2004, 03:26 PM
With it, that's even more so: 51% of the population in the 11 largest states gets you 271 electoral votes and the Presidency.Nope, with it, it's definitely less so, methinks.

The 11 most populous states get 51% of the EC votes. The also have about 57% of the U.S. population.

Doesn't any scenario where the largest states have a less-than-proportionate share of the EC votes better for the less populous states? IOW, the ratio of EC votes to population is better in the smaller states. It has to be algebraically, right?

So, while there may be arguments against the EC, I don't think this is one. The EC doesn't enhance the power of larger states or make it likelier for pols to ignore smaller states. That's reason enough for it, I think. Regional concerns for the smallest states would be buried in a simple plurality.

It's funny. Prior to the election the prevailing wisdom was that Bush might win the popular vote and lose the EC, and there was grumbling on the Pubbie side about how unfair this would be and how they would campaign against it. I voted for Bush, but was on record before the election (with my brothers, just check with them, I swear! ;)) that if Gore won the EC and lost the popular vote, then too bad for us, he's the prez fair and square and according to a system that I happen to agree with.

I still feel that way. The EC can perhaps be improved, but a simple plurality ain't the answer, IMO. It's counter to this whole "Union of States" concept we have going, that I think is still a great checks-and-balances approach. IMO, making a vote in Beaconsfield, Iowa exactly the same as a vote in NYC--in the sense that a plurality makes votes "equal"--effectively makes the Iowa vote worth, oh, just about nothing. That's ain't an improvement in my book.

Oh, and are those opposed to the EC equally opposed to the disproportionate representation in the Senate? FTR, I am not, for the same reason I support the EC. Giving Montana 1 Senator and California 39 might give every citizen the same proportionate representation, but I think it's obvious what it does to Montana in terms of representation in the Senate. They're screwed. Forget it. Their regional interests, to the extent they conflict with California's, are then a matter of zero (just about) consequence. There has to be a balance of regional interests with a simple national plurality, and I think the EC is one.

pervert
01-25-2004, 03:28 PM
I agree that the state borders are somewhat arbitrary if you consider them as districts of the United States. However, if you consider them as semi autonomous areas united in a single country, they are a good comprimise between the gerymandering of the congressional districts and outright nationhood.

On the other hand, pervert, is it not so that under the current system a president can completely ignore any state in which he knows he has no chance? It may seem counter intuitive, but I don't think so. Remember, that winning a State by 60% is no better than winning it by 51%. Therefore, even states where they have no chance are closer to being in play than under a national election. Say, for instance, that a particular state is heavily democratic 60% or even 70%. The Republicans cannot ignore the state even if they do not spend huge sums campaigning there. That is, they cannot propose policies which are radically detrimental to that State. Or, rather they can, but they are unlikely to change the situation that way. Now, imagine that the same state is 90% or 99% democratic, and has been for the last 10 elections. I would agree that not much can be done by the Republicans to win that state. However, why do we not see states that heavily biased one way or the other? Remember, when we talk about "no chance" for one party or the other, we mean the 60% or 65% bias. I contend that one reason for this is because as the approval of a particular candidate or party climbs up that high, that party or candidate is disincsentived to continue offering that state polocies which favor it to the exclusion of others. That is, it is most unlikely that a particular state will rise radically beyond a contest because the party in favor has no incentive to make a 60% approval into a 90% approval.

The current system also has the effect of nullifying any vote not for the winner of a state 2sense has tried to make this argument several times. But you have to ignore that the election took place to believe it. That is, the voter who casts his vote for the losing candidate is not represented in the Electoral College directly, but neither is he represented in Congress by a candidate he did not vote for. His representation was his vote, and it was counted in the state election. It seems silly to suggest that because he lost he had no representation.

ThThis is a link to maps of past presidential election results. The 2000 map includes the congressional district option. (http://www.uselectionatlas.org/USPRESIDENT/)

Pervert, I guess we just have to agree to disagree about the World Series analogy because I still don't see it as a very good analogy. Fair enough. I'm not particularly a sports buff, so that analogy never had the impact with me that the mathematics of Natapoff's thesis did.

barf
01-25-2004, 05:09 PM
If I had it my way the constitution would be re-written with every generation, in fact I think its about time to blow the whole thing up and start over right now.

That would be great. :rolleyes: What makes you think any new constitutions would be upheld by future courts any more than the current courts uphold the current constitution? The current "activist" courts create a new constitution everyday, it seems. On second thought, you have gotten your way without knowing it. ;)

Nightime
01-25-2004, 07:20 PM
Remember, that winning a State by 60% is no better than winning it by 51%. Therefore, even states where they have no chance are closer to being in play than under a national election. Say, for instance, that a particular state is heavily democratic 60% or even 70%. The Republicans cannot ignore the state even if they do not spend huge sums campaigning there. That is, they cannot propose policies which are radically detrimental to that State. Or, rather they can, but they are unlikely to change the situation that way.


This makes no sense.

Let me break down what you are saying in this paragraph:

1. States where a candidate has no chance are closer to being in play than under a national election (ignoring that I never proposed a popular vote national election, but rather proposed that states divide their electoral votes proportionally, as is already done in some states).

This is false, because under a national election, EVERY state in in play, even if it is absolutely guaranteed that the majority of people in that state will vote for one candidate. The rest of the votes are still up for grabs, and thus candidates cannot simply ignore the state, as is now possible.


2. The Republicans cannot ignore a state even if it is heavily Democratic... I mean they can't propose detrimental policies... I mean they can, but they won't change anything by doing that.


In other words, you have abandoned your original position that a candidate cannot ignore a state in which he has no chance for a majority, and are now saying that ignoring it won't change anything.

Which, of course, is the point! Ignoring it won't change anything - but it SHOULD change something. Candidates should not be able to ignore a state simply because they know they can't get a majority there.



You also did not respond to the fact that the current system nullifies the votes of many people, simply because they happen to fall within the arbitrary borders of a certain state.

Can you give me one reason why, under the current system, any candidate should *ever* try to win the votes of, say, Northern Californians in rural areas, given that their votes will be easily overwhelmed by the big cities?

JasonFin
01-25-2004, 09:38 PM
Anyway, even though it would probably benefit my (liberal) agenda if the EC were abolished, I don't favor doing so at this time. It may seem wrong that some bloke in Wyoming has a vote that counts three times as much as mine...but it makes up for his disadvantages in living so far from the centers of power and influence.

TrinopusIt may not bother you that someone else has a vote which counts three times as much as yours, merely for living in a different region, but I can say as a Californian that it bothers me a hell of a lot.

All these arguments for the electoral collage are based on the idea that sometimes it's a good idea to enact a policy or put in place a government supported by a minority and opposed by a majority of voters. This presupposes that the minority is wiser merely by virtue of its geographical distribution. In practice, because of how state boundaries are set up this tends to benefit people who live in rural areas more than people who live in urban areas (but not people who live in rural parts of California or New York!).

Under this system, people in some parts of the country are so fortunate as to have politicians pander to their every whim. For instance, Bush unilaterally enacted a tariff on steel to help industry in Michigan, ignoring the likelihood that such a trade barrier would have a significantly negative effect on the economy of the nation as a whole. States like California or Massachusetts or, for that matter, Texas or Mississippi don't get that kind of service because they aren't in play.

pervert
01-25-2004, 09:39 PM
I know I'm not explaining this very well. Let me try again.
EVERY state in in play, even if it is absolutely guaranteed that the majority Yes, Perhaps. If only a majority of the people are likely to vote for a particular candidate, then that state is surely still in play. Of course that is the current situation also. My point is that once a party or candidate has attained this majority support under the EC, he has no incentive to try and make it a 2/3rds majority, or a 7/8ths. The point being that once a candidate has achieved a majority, he will begin spending political capital in other areas. This is true of all candidates, and I contend that this means that most states will hover around the "in play" level from election to election.

If I may offer this as evidence. I do not think there has ever been a state in which both parties have not at one time or another held sway. There has never been a state which has been entirely republican or entirely democrat since statehood. I suggest that this is evidence that at one time or another all states have been "in play".

In other words, you have abandoned your original position that a candidate cannot ignore a state in which he has no chance for a majority, and are now saying that ignoring it won't change anything.No, not at all. I am saying that "no chance" means different things in American politics than it does in strict English. When pundits say that a candidate has "no chance" in a particular state, district, or election, what they usually mean is that the other candidate is heavily favored. Heavily favored, in this context means anythig over 55%.

As a result, we have the situation where states which are arguably "in play" nonetheless have one or the other of the candidates heavily favored to win. This means 2 things. first of all because of the EC, the favored candidate has little incentive to increase his lead. Secondly, the underdog is not as far behind as he might be under a different system (either popular election or proportional assignment of electors which is very close to the same thing).

You also did not respond to the fact that the current system nullifies the votes of many people, simply because they happen to fall within the arbitrary borders of a certain state.Yes, I did. The idea that any votes which are counted and applied to the total for an election don't count because they did not vote for the winner is simply silly. By that theory every vote for a candidate which loses does not count.

Can you give me one reason why, under the current system, any candidate should *ever* try to win the votes of, say, Northern Californians in rural areas, given that their votes will be easily overwhelmed by the big cities?Because the votes in teh big urban areas are not as far skewed as you suppose. In 2000, Bush lost California by 41 to 53 percent.According to this map. (you may have to select California) (http://www.uselectionatlas.org/USPRESIDENT/) Mostly of the congressional districts won by Gore were in the coastal or urban areas. In some of those areas, Gore won more than 70% of the vote. A massive shutout by American political standards. And yet, the state as a whole was not so far apart. If you also not that only 40% of the voters turned out, it is pretty easy to make a case that California was in fact "in play". And that it was so because of Bush's apeal to the more rural counties.

pervert
01-25-2004, 09:50 PM
All these arguments for the electoral collage are based on the idea that sometimes it's a good idea to enact a policy or put in place a government supported by a minority and opposed by a majority of voters. No, No. This is not the argument at all. The argument is merely that it is OK for a particular candidate to have less votes than another candidate sometimes. Remember we are only talking about this happening when an election is very very very very very close. In 2000, with a population eligible to vote of about 200 million (in which only half turned out), the election was decided by very close to 500 thousand votes or about .51%. This is almost too close to call. I would suggest, that it is actually too close to call.

States like California or Massachusetts or, for that matter, Texas or Mississippi don't get that kind of service because they aren't in play.But this is a temporaty situation. Last time it was other times it was not. Over many elections, all of these states are most definately in play.

erislover
01-27-2004, 11:54 AM
It may not bother you that someone else has a vote which counts three times as much as yours, merely for living in a different region, but I can say as a Californian that it bothers me a hell of a lot.I think this is just a poor interpretation of the voting system rather than some kind of inherent flaw in the Electoral College system. In the EC, your vote only has meaning in your own state. Your vote isn't worth more or less than a Rhode Islander's because there is no legitimate method of comparison that doesn't already assume a method of voting that isn't the EC. You are starting with the assumption that your vote matters in a national sense of "one person one vote". The EC makes no such assumption. It only cares about states, and apportions state votes based on their representation, which is a floored function of their population.

Your vote compared to the only people you can compare your vote to (those who also live in your state) is worth just as much. The next level of comparison available is at the state level, and as you might note, California is worth more than Rhode Island.
This presupposes that the minority is wiser merely by virtue of its geographical distribution.Sometimes it is. Not all issues that the federal government deals with are national issues. But while I think this is true, I don't think it supports the EC.

erislover
01-27-2004, 02:03 PM
I also want to add that this "problem" will affect any and all practical representational governments, which will be aligned by region and not strictly population (which would require far too much census work for little gain). For example, the number of representatives in congress is a function of population, but since we can't have fractional congressmen (and we can't have zero representation for exceptionally small areas) it is a step function which means some population centers will always have more/less people than other for the same number of representatives.

It is improper, IMO, to view any of these from the "one person one vote" perspective taken all the way through to the highest level of government. Again, with respect to what votes can be compared, it is "one person one vote."

The only way out is direct democracy. Good luck getting that one through.

2sense
01-28-2004, 10:29 PM
My apologies for not replying promptly. The board being periodically offline plus problems with my temporary dial up ISP I'm afraid I haven't been able to find the right time to post. I'll do my best to keep up and hope our new DSL modem gets here soon. Since more people have posted since my last visit I guess I won't get through all of this tonight.

Right. But this is patently false. Imagine again, if we held a national election. Then we held a second stage. In this second stage only those who voted for the winner of the first stage could vote. Further, they could only vote for the winner of the first stage. Notice how this is a superflous vote? Notice how simply adding a second stage does not disenfranchise the losers of the first stage? The objection is not that there is more than one stage in the voting. The objection is that the minority didn't get to vote in the final stage. I'm not sure why you are having trouble grasping this concept. Lets try putting it in black and white. If everyone got together to vote on how to manage the election and decided to only count the votes of white people then I hope you can see that black folks and other minorities, while casting ballots on the first question, had no say at all in who was actually elected. Given that the EC requires winning 50% plus in the most poulous 13 states while a direct election would require much more than 50%. My point is that the EC gives no advantage to a candidate which gains much more than 50%. So, candidates do not radically change thier platforms to gain 80% or 90% in the most popular states. They devise policies which play to the nation as a whole. Again you are ignoring the political realities we live with. As we have already gone over each party already has a national base based on national issues. What regional issues could possibly drive a candidate's numbers up to an unheard of 80% or 90%? Highway funds or desalination plants? Don't be silly. Long before that level of support was reached a candidate would run into basic differences with the base of the opposing party. And there is simply no chance of a candidate delivering on a promise to spend highway money on only a few states: the plan would be DOA in the Senate.

Also, how about a real world example of an EC-influenced national policy decision? I have offered the steel tariffs as an example of how the EC atomizes policy. No, I believe it simply acknowledges certain differences which exist. Here is where we part company. I believe in everyone created equal.
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That means (alas!) that our system is geographically dominated by "media markets." You can reach a hell of a lot more people, per dollar, in Los Angeles and Chicago than you can in Cheyenne and Metairie.

The EC artificially compensates for that -- which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Can you cite your claim that an advertising dollar goes farther in large urban areas than elsewhere? Because I gotta tell ya, that's the opposite of how things generally work. Dollars tend to go farther in the country than in the city. Certainly you reach many fewer people with say Channel 7 out of Traverse City than with Chicago's WGN but it also costs a lot less.

And lets not lose sight of the fact that we are all alone in the voting booth. Individuals cast ballots, not villages or townships or towns or suburbs or cities. People. Some communities are bigger than others but all individuals are all equal politically. Right? Question: when the framers came up with it, were they, too, thinking about the power of the press and the function of communication? Were they trying to give a little extra influence to the frontiersman at the expense of the masses in large cities? Let me give my usual caveat concerning the original intent behind the Electoral College. Those who have sifted through the evidence of the discussion of electing the president in the constitutional convention do not agree upon any unified intent behind it. There were many reasons to support it, perhaps as many as there were Framers. The PDF that pervert links to does a fair job of laying out the outlines of the debate but really, it was much more complex and messy than that. It may seem wrong that some bloke in Wyoming has a vote that counts three times as much as mine...but it makes up for his disadvantages in living so far from the centers of power and influence. Do you really think some chap in Wyoming is any farther from power and influence than the DC janitors who clean the capital buildings after the pols and lobbyists go home for the night? Most of us are far from power and influence. That doesn't give me any reason to be happy with the Wyomingites having five or ten votes to my one.
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What are the arguments against having all the states divide their electoral votes proportionally to the popular vote in that state? To repeat: The EC biases the presidential elections in basically three ways. Between the states the votes are unequal because individuals are voting with varying numbers of people for varying piles of electoral votes. Within each state political power is uneven because only those voting in the majority have any say in who wins due to the fact that all of a state's electoral votes fall to a single candidate. The wishes of those in the minority have no effect on the vote that counts in the electoral college. Outside the states there is no vote at all. Not even the sham of casting a ballot that won't count. Those citizens without residency in a state ( or the federal district ) are disenfranchised completely.

Dividing the votes proportionally would only address one of the three main inequities. Voters in some states would still be underrepresented and those who live outside states would still remain completely unrepresented.
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She'll have to write a bit more than that. Suppose there is a very close election . The losing candidate wants a recount. Does the FEC have the constitutional authority to force every state to do a recount? Even those not participating in this scheme, that had a clear winner?[/i] You are right that I was oversimplifying things. The reality isn't very tidy. Each state controls the selection of its own electors so the FEC can't force states to have a recount. The best I can come up with in the situation you describe would be the runoff election I described to erislover. The FEC, unable to name a single winner, instead declares a tie and encourages the states and territories to hold a runoff election between those 2 candidates on the designated day. The winner of that vote would be named the winner by the FEC. And lets not forget that while federal executive departments can't interfere in state elections the federal judiciary certainly can. Also, I wonder how easy it would really be to "encourage" states to go along with this. I am sure a majority of the citizens of, say, Massachussetts favor doing away with the EC in theory. But, in practice, if faced with the prospect that all their electors would go to George W. if he eked out a bare majority nationwide, in spite of the overwhelming majority of Mass. voters voting for the Democratic nominee (as seems likely), I wonder if they would go through with it. If you wait to decide how to run the election until after the votes are cast then of course any option will be opposed by one side or the other on the basis that it would give their opponents the victory. Obviously the solution is to decide how to assign the electors before the votes are cast and thus avoid the whole silly proposition.
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pervert
01-28-2004, 11:54 PM
I'm not sure why you are having trouble grasping this concept. Lets try putting it in black and white. If everyone got together to vote on how to manage the election and decided to only count the votes of white people then I hope you can see that black folks and other minorities, while casting ballots on the first question, had no say at all in who was actually elected. Of course. But I am haveing similar trouble understanding your obtuseness on this point. This example is nothing like what happens in the EC. The voters in a state vote. All the votes are counted. Whichever candidate wins (again, after all the votes are counted), gets a certain number of points towards winning the presidency. I cannot see how in any way the losers of this vote were not counted. The addition of a second layer of election mechansim does nothing to change the fact that the losers and the winner's votes were indeed counted.

Again you are ignoring the political realities we live with. As we have already gone over each party already has a national base based on national issues.Not at all. I am acknowledging one of the political systems which has given us the political realities we live with.

What regional issues could possibly drive a candidate's numbers up to an unheard of 80% or 90%? How about funding all of the state's budgets of the 15 most populous states from the federal treasury?

Don't be silly. Long before that level of support was reached a candidate would run into basic differences with the base of the opposing party. And there is simply no chance of a candidate delivering on a promise to spend highway money on only a few states: the plan would be DOA in the Senate.Which is, of course, one of the purposes of the Senate. I'm glad to see you realize it has a good purpose. You did not seem to think so last time we talked about this. All I'm saying, is that the EC performs a similar (not identical, mind you, but similar) purpose in the matter of choosing the president.

Also, how about a real world example of an EC-influenced national policy decision?The issue is that the EC prevents extremes of ideology from becoming policy. There is no such thing as a southern party, or a Mid Western party because we have no need of such regional bodies. the federal constitution works quite well at balancing the virtues of a deomcracy with the needs of a great and diverse nation.

Here is where we part company. I believe in everyone created equal.I don't thin I said anything contrary to this. I believe I said there were policy preferencial differences amongst the various people of the states which the EC acknowledges, and seeks to ammeliorate.

HomerIU
01-30-2004, 10:15 PM
All of this talk about a particular state being "in play" is just that....talk. Sure, if you go back far enough you will see instances where states occasionally switch, but the vast majority of the time a large proportion of the states, in the presidential election, vote either Democrat or Republican in a large majoority of the elections. In fact, I plan on looking this up in the Almanac and seeing what the stats are for the last 50 years. States DO NOT routinely switch from one party to the other from election to election. Further, despite what is being claimed here, a 55% or 60% majority is not a SMALL majority.

pervert
01-30-2004, 11:16 PM
Sure, if you go back far enough you will see instances where states occasionally switch, but the vast majority of the time a large proportion of the states, in the presidential election, vote either Democrat or Republican in a large majoority of the elections.Well, According to thiscite (http://www.uselectionatlas.org/USPRESIDENT/) California voted:

1900: Theodore Roosevelt, Republican
1904: Theodore Roosevelt, Republican
1908: William Taft, Republican
1912: Theodore Roosevelt, Progressive
1916: Woodrow Wilson, Democrat
1920: Calvin Coolidge, Republican
1924: Calvin Coolidge, Republican
1928: Herbert Hoover, Republican
1932: Franklin Roosevelt, Democrat
1936: Franklin Roosevelt, Democrat
1940: Franklin Roosevelt, Democrat
1944: Franklin Roosevelt, Democrat
1948: Harry Truman, Democrat
1952: Dwight Eisenhower, Republican
1956: Dwight Eisenhower, Republican
1960: Richard Nixon, Republican
1964: Lyndon Johnson, Democrat
1968: Richard Nixon, Republican
1972: Richard Nixon, Republican
1976: Gerald Ford, Republican
1980: Ronald Reagan, Republican
1984: Ronald Reagan, Republican
1988: George Bush, Republican
1992: William Clinton, Democrat
1996: William Clinton, Democrat
2000: Albert Gore Jr., Democrat

I make that 15 Republican, 10 Democrat, and 1 Progressive. Even if you grant that the Progressive vote was for Teddy, and so could be considered Republican, it is hardly "occasionally". I only looked at California, and I only went back to 1900. Didn't want to be accused of going back too far :).

I chose 1900 because its B I G and R O U N D.

If you read Dilbert, you might get that.

Bryan Ekers
01-31-2004, 03:35 AM
Doesn't this all just come down to how you feel about the continued existence of states? If you want to view the USA as a monolithic block, then the states become irrelevant and you may as well institute a popular vote. But as long as state structures exist, and the constitution says the state governments can choose their electors any way they want, and the only way to change this is to ge the consent of 34 states, then you're pretty much stuck in a, dare-I-say-it, solid state.

2sense
02-01-2004, 01:08 AM
But I am haveing similar trouble understanding your obtuseness on this point. This example is nothing like what happens in the EC. The voters in a state vote. All the votes are counted. Whichever candidate wins (again, after all the votes are counted), gets a certain number of points towards winning the presidency. I cannot see how in any way the losers of this vote were not counted. The addition of a second layer of election mechansim does nothing to change the fact that the losers and the winner's votes were indeed counted.
I am at a loss as to how to make this point more simple. Yes, everyone had a ballot in the first stage when deciding who would do the voting in the 2nd. But in the 2nd stage, the one that actually decides how to assign the political power of the entire state, only the electors get to vote and they vote along with the majority. In the vote that counts the minority has no voice.

How about funding all of the state's budgets of the 15 most populous states from the federal treasury?
This is your response to my inquiry for an issue that could bring 80% or 90% support in certain areas. I must say, the politician foolish enough to propose such a plan would be lucky not to get laughed out of town let alone attain a supermajority. You can't just appeal to naked interest; you also have to give people a reason to believe a policy is fair. I mean, conservative and libertarian types don't just state outright that poor people should starve so everyone else can enjoy lower taxes. Instead they construct a worldview in which the problems of the poor could easily be solved by themselves and that government aid gets in the way of such rugged individualism. Such pretentions are useful because they allow the selfish hoarders to go on pretending their actions resemble those of decent human beings. Lacking any such sustaining ideology your proposal would fall flat on its face. If you can provide such justification I would take your offering more seriously. As it stands, it is simply ridiculous.

And, as I have said, the suggestion fails because such a policy wouldn't pass the Senate. This does not indicate any support for the institution of an upper branch of the national legislature. It is merely an observation of how things work.

The issue is that the EC prevents extremes of ideology from becoming policy. There is no such thing as a southern party, or a Mid Western party because we have no need of such regional bodies.
Actually the issue is regional dominance of presidential elections. My contention is that the EC facilitates it. You have contested that assertion and the first sentence of this quote isn't the issue itself but merely a counterassertion you are pursuing rather than getting to the point. The point, let us remember, is that the EC is more susceptible to regional influence because a candidate merely needs a plurality in the 13 "large" states in question to control the outcome of the election instead of almost every vote in them under a direct popular vote. Put in context then we can see that your objection is empty. A candidate willing to propose radically regional policies to the 13 states in order to gain the White House isn't impeded by the electoral college at all. On the contrary, such a person only needs to get more votes in each state than any other candidate in that election rather than more votes than any[]/i] presidential candidate has ever received in that state.

That we don't have a Southern Party or a Midwestern Party doesn't demonstrate that the EC promotes national policies over regional policies. A look at the election of 1860 or the history of the Federalist Party shows that US presidential elections can become regional affairs. I have already offered one current example of a regional policy brought about by the nature of the EC: steel tariffs. How about addressing that?

[i]I don't thin I said anything contrary to this. I believe I said there were policy preferencial differences amongst the various people of the states which the EC acknowledges, and seeks to ammeliorate.
This isn't how I interpreted your earlier statement but if this were what you said I would have replied that I see no reason to impose your particular view of preferential policies upon the electorate instead of leaving each voter free to decide for themselves which policies they prefer.
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Doesn't this all just come down to how you feel about the continued existence of states? If you want to view the USA as a monolithic block, then the states become irrelevant and you may as well institute a popular vote. But as long as state structures exist, and the constitution says the state governments can choose their electors any way they want, and the only way to change this is to ge the consent of 34 states, then you're pretty much stuck in a, dare-I-say-it, solid state.

No. It is perfectly consistant to view the Union as a collection of states and still wish to see each citizen have an equal vote in deciding who will be our leader. You have excluded the middle and possibly a vast one at that. I suspect most Americans fall in that category. And, as I have previously attempted to explain, no constitutional amendment is needed to move the country to a de facto popular vote.
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pervert
02-01-2004, 02:17 AM
I am at a loss as to how to make this point more simple. You don't have to make the point more simple, you have to understand where your mistake is. You are claiming that the second election is more important than the first, and that the losers of the general election are not represented. What you are forgetting, is that this "second election" is totally determined by the outcome of the general election. Nothing happens in the second election which is not determined by the first (ignoring statistical anomolies for hyperbole effects). And in this first all votes are counted. Therefore, all votes are counted for the purposes of determining the outcome of the second election.

This is your response to my inquiry for an issue that could bring 80% or 90% support in certain areas.No. This is my response to your request for an example of a policy which would be in the interests of a limited region. I'm trying to get you to see that regional issues are kept less radical because of a side effect of the EC.

The point, let us remember, is that the EC is more susceptible to regional influence This is the point you are trying to make, yes. I disagree.

A candidate willing to propose radically regional policies to the 13 states in order to gain the White House isn't impeded by the electoral college at all.Not really. Radical policies are more likely to gain vehment opposition in other states. Therefore, you would have to be able to guranantee that such policies would win all of the states you were targeting. If you missed even one of them, you would lose very big. It is much wiser to apeal to national issues in general and regional issues only when they are compatible (or you can convolute them into compatibility) with such national policies.

That is successful candidates apeal as much as possible to as many states as possible.

[QUTOE]I have already offered one current example of a regional policy brought about by the nature of the EC: steel tariffs. How about addressing that?[/QUOTE]Fine. The steel tarrif is a regional issue. Are you saying that it is less of a regional issue in a popular election? Are you saying that garnering more support in that region by, say, proposing higher tarrifs would not gain more power in a popular election than the EC?


This isn't how I interpreted your earlier statement but if this were what you said I would have replied that I see no reason to impose your particular view of preferential policies upon the electorate instead of leaving each voter free to decide for themselves which policies they prefer.And once agian, you have completely lost me. What I said again and again, is that regional issues exist. They are not created by national politicians. They are not foisted on the region where they exist. They are part of the fact that Americans do not all live in homogeneous, cookie cutter like communities. Certain issues garner more support in some areas than they do in other areas. It is not about anyone imposing a certain view of preferential policies on others. In fact it has nothing to do with that.

2sense
02-01-2004, 01:32 PM
You don't have to make the point more simple, you have to understand where your mistake is. You are claiming that the second election is more important than the first, and that the losers of the general election are not represented. What you are forgetting, is that this "second election" is totally determined by the outcome of the general election. Nothing happens in the second election which is not determined by the first (ignoring statistical anomolies for hyperbole effects). And in this first all votes are counted. Therefore, all votes are counted for the purposes of determining the outcome of the second election.

Perhaps it might be time for you to consider the possibility that it could be you that is mistaken. Your quote there is accurate but it misses the point. Rather it obscures the point. Yes, ( 2sense repeated patiently ) everyone has a ballot in the first stage. So yes, nothing happens in the 2nd stage that wasn't determined by the first. The problem is the method of determination. The method takes a plurality or majority opinion and treats it as universal consent. All of the electoral power of a state is given to a single candidate even though many or even most voters voted for other candidates. Those voters have had their voice stiffled. They have had their share of the state's electoral power taken from them and assigned to a candidate they oppose. They have been disenfranchised.

Originally posted by 2sense
This is your response to my inquiry for an issue that could bring 80% or 90% support in certain areas.

Originally posted by pervert
No. This is my response to your request for an example of a policy which would be in the interests of a limited region. I'm trying to get you to see that regional issues are kept less radical because of a side effect of the EC.


Excuse me. I must have been confused by the fact that you quoted my question of "What regional issues could possibly drive a candidate's numbers up to an unheard of 80% or 90%?" and followed it with the direct reply, "How about funding all of the state's budgets of the 15 most populous states from the federal treasury?" Sorry. My mistake. So, how about actually providing an example of a regional issue that could possibly drive a candidate's numbers up to 80% or higher? You know, so your position isn't completely laughable?

This is the point you are trying to make, yes. I disagree.

I know you disagree. You said so and then went into this song and dance about the EC preventing extremes of ideology. I am bringing attention to the original point of contention for context. I don't want the fact that you are pursuing your counterclaim to the exclusion of the main point to get lost in the confusion. Get on with the disagreeing already.

Not really. Radical policies are more likely to gain vehment opposition in other states. Therefore, you would have to be able to guranantee that such policies would win all of the states you were targeting. If you missed even one of them, you would lose very big. It is much wiser to apeal to national issues in general and regional issues only when they are compatible (or you can convolute them into compatibility) with such national policies.

What has this gobbledegook to do with the basic observation that it's easier to get a plurality in 13 states than a supermajority in them? When you quote someone's words and reply to them you are supposed to actually reply to them, you know?


Fine. The steel tarrif is a regional issue. Are you saying that it is less of a regional issue in a popular election? Are you saying that garnering more support in that region by, say, proposing higher tarrifs would not gain more power in a popular election than the EC?

No one has disputed that this is a regional issue. The steel tariffs were brought up by both myself and JasonFin as an example of how the mechanics of the EC allows candidates to offer policies that favor certain states that the candidate needs to win even though they might have harmful effects for other states which the candidate has no chance of winning. Will you stop dodging the point now?
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pervert
02-01-2004, 04:57 PM
The method takes a plurality or majority opinion and treats it as universal consent.This is your mis interpretation of the situation. It is not the case, however. The majority (not universal, just majority) vote determines who that particular state gives its approval to for President. No one (except you, perhaps) thinks that the state has universally accepted him. Your problem is that the losers in a particular state cannot band together with the losers in another state to add thier votes together. But this does not mean that the losers in either state were disenfranchised. Merely that their votes were cast within their respective states.

Regarding the regionalization issue: Look. You posited that the EC caused a reginal issue like the steel tariff to become more of an issue than it would have under a popular election system. I asked several questions which are relevant to this point. Do you really think that the issue would be less regional under a different system?

My only point regarding this is that under such a hypothetical system, regional issues could become more emphatically stressed in presidential elections. Given that more votes equals more power in a thouroughly linear fasion under your proposed system, Candidates would have more incentive to get more votes rather than get majority votes in more states. The concepts are similar, but not identical as I'm sure you will agree. Obviously candidates will apeal to any national issues with broad support. However, differences will appear concerning regional issues also. Under both systems.

You are saying the winning majorities in states is easier than winning unanimty. Obviously this is true. My point is that candidates are not driven to these harder methods to win unanimity because they don't gain any extra power by it. I'm not trying to say that the EC is some panacea which solves all regional disputes. Just that one of its characteristics is that it tends to broaden the apeal of national candidates.

I know you don't get it. But you don't get that the losers in a democratic election are not therby disenfranchised either, so what the heck. You have the last word. I'm bored of this.

2sense
02-02-2004, 07:43 PM
I am over this thread as well. Not out of boredom but from frustration. If you were willing to examine your preconceptions and discard those found wanting then it would be different. I could point out yet again that you are missing the point or perhaps give you a sarcastic lesson on the meaning of the phrase, "treats it as" but I don't see the point. It's no fun arguing at length with those who refuse to engage my position in good faith. But since you have generously offered me the last word I will take it:

Bullocks!
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Bryan Ekers
02-07-2004, 01:25 PM
It's no fun arguing at length with those who refuse to engage my position in good faith.

Well, in the next EC thread, we can start all over again.

erislover
02-07-2004, 02:14 PM
The problem is the method of determination. The method takes a plurality or majority opinion and treats it as universal consent.Only you are doing that, frankly. Who claims that everyone likes the President, and takes as evidence the fact that he was elected? Even in strict majority voting this claim can't be made.
All of the electoral power of a state is given to a single candidate even though many or even most voters voted for other candidates. Those voters have had their voice stiffled. They have had their share of the state's electoral power taken from them and assigned to a candidate they oppose. They have been disenfranchised. Then all single-seat elections by any voting method other than absolute unanimous consent represent disenfranchisement. That's ridiculous, and nowhere close to what anyone means by "disenfranchised".
What has this gobbledegook to do with the basic observation that it's easier to get a plurality in 13 states than a supermajority in them?Honestly, the observation is not that "basic" or even unquestionably correct. There are at least two major candidates in any Presidential race. It can't be easy for both of them in a single seat election. Furthermore, your point of contention seems to hinge on states' giving all their EC votes to the candidate who won the majority in that state. Surely you realize that this is not required by the EC, and that if all states assigned their EC votes in proportion to the votes by the citizens, your claim starts to fall apart (assuming it was standing in the first place).
No one has disputed that this is a regional issue. The steel tariffs were brought up by both myself and JasonFin as an example of how the mechanics of the EC allows candidates to offer policies that favor certain states that the candidate needs to win even though they might have harmful effects for other states which the candidate has no chance of winning. Will you stop dodging the point now?Which is only true when the winner of a state takes all the state's EC votes, something that is decided on a state-by-state basis.

DSYoungEsq
02-12-2004, 12:06 PM
The argument by 2sense that the EC should be abolished because it disenfranchises voters is stupid. All you have to do to show how stupid it is is to say, "Let's abolish the EC. Instead, let us tally the election on the following basis: each candidate will win a number of points equivalent to the number of congressional legislators (Senators and Representatives) a state has for obtaining a plurality of votes in a state." The complained-of mechanism would be gone, the result would be the same, and the main argument against the EC would still exist: a candidate can win the Presidency without a plurality of votes cast by individuals on that day.

Now, if the electors actually voted according to their own desires, without regard to the popular vote, that would be a potential disenfranchisement of the people, to the extent that they think they are voting for a presidential candidate and not an elector (or slate of electors). Thus, if you held two votes on November 2, one a vote for electors, the second a straw poll of preference for who wins the Presidency, and Candidate A wins a plurality of the votes in California, but the electors split between Candidates B and C (having secretly decided A is out to lunch because he promised everyone a chicken in every pot), then it is true the presidential preference vote would be meaningless. But the parties long ago made certain that such a system wouldn't exist; in truth, the vote you make on November 2 will be a vote for how the state's electoral votes should be cast, and no one is under any illusion that they would be cast any other way so long as it matters how they are cast. To complain about the EC on the basis that it has disenfranchised anyone is ridiculous (literally so; it results in many of us ridiculing the notion ;) ).

Of course, the truth is that the people aren't disenfranchised because they never were enfranchised in the first place. No one has the right to vote for President. It is only by the grace of your individual state that you are allowed to choose the electors to the Electoral College. Statewide votes didn't become commonplace until the 1820's. If California wanted to, it could appoint its electors by lottery. Probably get a better result, too.

There is no inherent difference betwen a person in California voting for a losing slate of electors, and a person in California voting for a losing candidate in a national election. In either case, the person's vote was tallied, but the plurality chose differently. I am certain that those who voted for George W. Bush's electoral slate in California are perfectly happy with the result of the overall election day, regardless of the fact their slate of electors wasn't selected to represent the Golden State. But you can point this out to 2sense until you are blue in the face, and it won't change the opinion of that poster, who has ignored this logic for years, now, in this forum.

As for the underlying issue, whether or not the selection of the President should retain some vestige of federalism, I have opined on this in the past (I'm not sure the 2000 and 2001 threads are still available). I personally don't like the tendency of this country to de-federalize and become a homogenous nation in which states are mere historical left-overs. I hope that the pendulum will swing back, and we will again invest our states with the power to be different, so that where you choose to live depends on something other than climate. For good or bad, the EC is a part of our federalist roots; I prefer to see it stay that way.

John Mace
02-12-2004, 12:27 PM
Well, in the next EC thread, we can start all over again.

LoL. I try (not always successfully) to stay out of these EC debates for that exact reason. It's the old definition of insanity-- doing the exact same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.

2sense
02-19-2004, 02:49 AM
Only you are doing that, frankly. Who claims that everyone likes the President, and takes as evidence the fact that he was elected?

I'm not certain what you believe you are replying to but my statement you have quoted is just yet another reframing of the observation that while all of a state's electoral votes go to one candidate many, perhaps even most, of the individual voters in the state chose someone else. It's a wonder it needs saying at all let alone restating over and over when no one in this thread has disputed the fact that not everyone has the same vote under the EC. But we are stubborn about abandoning cherished illusions.


Then all single-seat elections by any voting method other than absolute unanimous consent represent disenfranchisement.

Hardly, if we had a single seat election I wouldn't be complaining because everyone would have an equal vote. That's not what happens now though I'm not certain where you have fallen off my logic train. You vote for presidential candidate A but amongst the people in your state candidate B is more popular so all of your state's electoral votes go to him. Your state is a collections of individuals of which you are one which entitles you to a share of its political power. You didn't vote for B but even your share of the state's electoral power went to him. This is what I mean by voices being stiffled.


Honestly, the observation is not that "basic" or even unquestionably correct.

Again you attack an imaginary foe. I said "easier". It is unquestionably correct that it is easier for a candidate to get 42% of the vote in 13 states then to reach 90% or higher. You have jumped into this late and seem to have missed your footing. My quote here is in response to the myth that a popular vote lends itself to regional politics. I have shown to the contrary that this is more of a liablity under the EC.


Surely you realize that this is not required by the EC, and that if all states assigned their EC votes in proportion to the votes by the citizens, your claim starts to fall apart (assuming it was standing in the first place).

The bias of the EC, as I have already explained twice, is threefold. If all states assigned their electoral votes proportionally it would go a long way to relieving the first problem though individual votes would still be bundled together so it wouldn't be exactly equal. Still, if that were the only difficulty even I would probably have to reluctantly agree that it was close enough. But there is more to it. Electoral votes are not assigned to the states strictly proportionally meaning that voters in different states don't necessarily have the same or close to the same electoral power. And, of course, those Americans that don't have residence in a state would still be left out in the cold altogether.

It seems to me that while states could move to a proportional system there is no reason to take half measures when they can, collectively or unilaterally, assign their electors based upon winner of the most votes overall and not just those in each particular state.
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The argument by 2sense that the EC should be abolished because it disenfranchises voters is stupid. All you have to do to show how stupid it is is to say...

All the rest of that paragraph shows about my position is your ignorance of it. It has nothing to do with the EC bias I have described at length. I'm not sure how you came up with this strawman to ridicule but I haven't complained about the mechanism of the electors. My arguments presume them to be the mere faithful functionaries they should be and nearly always are.


Of course, the truth is that the people aren't disenfranchised because they never were enfranchised in the first place. No one has the right to vote for President.

Congratulations on winning this cheap semantic point. Care to join the actual debate over whether citizens should have a right to vote for President?


There is no inherent difference betwen a person in California voting for a losing slate of electors, and a person in California voting for a losing candidate in a national election.

Wrong. The difference is that in the first case the person was denied the freedom to give their electoral power to the candidate of their choice on their own without bundling their vote with others in their state to elect electors. In the 2nd case the person has that freedom and also the assurance that they have the same vote as everyone else. They would have the right to vote for the President. I'd call that an inherent difference.


I am certain that those who voted for George W. Bush's electoral slate in California are perfectly happy with the result of the overall election day, regardless of the fact their slate of electors wasn't selected to represent the Golden State. But you can point this out to 2sense until you are blue in the face, and it won't change the opinion of that poster, who has ignored this logic for years, now, in this forum.

Why would I need to ignore such "logic"? This amounts to sheer speculation and applies to nothing in contention. Of course those who won were happy to win. That doesn't mean they are happy with the mechanism deciding the winner.

As for the underlying issue, whether or not the selection of the President should retain some vestige of federalism, I have opined on this in the past (I'm not sure the 2000 and 2001 threads are still available).

I don't recall this. What I remember was you explaning that the EC was a part of our federal republic and not only refusing to justify it but actually getting your panties up in a bunch when I had the temerity to raise the question. I don't know what they teach in law school but in my neck of the woods the mere existence of a status quo doesn't justify it.

I personally don't like the tendency of this country to de-federalize and become a homogenous nation in which states are mere historical left-overs.

To each their own. Me, I don't much care for it when posters substitute rhetoric for logic.

For good or bad, the EC is a part of our federalist roots; I prefer to see it stay that way.

I love this line. "My EC, right or wrong!" Pardon us if some actually care to explore the rightness and wrongness of the electoral college. If you've no interest in addressing anti-EC arguments that exist outside your imagination then please feel free to stop pretending to debate the issue. If you cease spreading ignorance I won't have trouble myself correcting you.
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