electoral college benefits and other nations

One benefit of the Electoral College that I’ve heard that makes some sense is that it “contains” any concerns about fraud in an election. In other words, if the electin is close (hmmm), any fraud that is going to be committed, made up, alleged, etc. will have to be in states where it is close. If there was simply a national tallying up of votes, people could look around for enough votes to make a difference, or organize the fraud, all over the place. Does this benefit make sense (even if not enough to outweight other problems)? If so, what do other countries do?

Don’t understand the reasoning. In The Netherlands, votes are tallied within each neighbourhood (think several thousands of people), then all neighbourhoods are aggragated (possible first city-wide). I think they used to double-check, but as voting machines are getting in vogue, that is no longer done.

To commit fraud, you’d have to rig sufficient districts to make a difference. Each seat in parliament is a specific number of votes. So the impact is: x votes = 1 seat. With sufficient seats you get a majority in parliament.

With an electoral college, you would (as I understand it) need sufficient votes to swing the state. So the threshould would be higher, but once you crossed it, the impact would be stronger (as it would entail much more votes). With enough of such electoral college votes you would gain the presidency.

In both cases you would need a large amount of votes to get the end result (to wit, a substantial difference in the end). If, however, the contenders are close, it works differently. If there is a general tally, and both have 49.x %, indeed a few votes anywhere might make the difference. With an electoral college you would indeed have a certain isolation, as only the swing states would need to be monitored carefully. Still, if there are many swing states, each would be open to fraud. Indeed, as the last election shows, a single district may make the difference.

The problem with the system as I see it from my foreign perspective is that the electoral college is no more than an intermediate step. In most European countries IIRC the political head of state (the one in power, which is not always titled president) is chosen from the majority party in parliament (congress in the U.S.). Hence if the parties are close, the majority party will win (i.e. form the government), but will usually still pay respect to the other party as the political influence there is almost equal. That also precludes a situation (as may happen in the U.S.) of a president with a hostile congress.

In The Netherlands the last elections turned into a close finish of the two main parties, christian democrats and social democrats. The former won by one seat, and have formed the goverment, while the other (after negotiations) was relegated to the opposition. So in respect of power in the government, the end result is similar as it would be in the U.S. No allegations of cheating, however.

Well, that may be a benefit, but the real reason it was designed that way was as a compromise, just like many other parts of the Constitution. Lots of people wanted a parliamentary-type system, with the executive chosen by the legislature, and lots wanted direct election of the executive by the states. Some radical freethinkers even wanted direct election by the people! Compromise, and you get the Electoral College.

I’m afraid the answer to the OP is debatable and this is the wrong forum for that. If a moderator would be kind enough to ship this over to Great Debates though I will be happy to explain why I believe the benefit from the “containing function” of the Electoral College not only doesn’t outweigh the other problems of the EC but doesn’t even outweigh the problems caused by the “containing function” itself. But while I can’t give a factual answer since even I, as committed anti-EC crusader as you are ever likely to meet, believes there is a benefit it is a pretty safe bet that the benefit exists.

This may or may not have opinions instead of answers. I guess I’m wondering if any other nation has a similar system to this electoral college and why ours was thought up? I understand that in a parliamentary system, things would be quiet different.

Without trying to editorialize, the system was thought up because it was an available compromise to population size vs. states’ rights. It prevents populous states from dictating its desires to not-so-populous states.

If you consider that all politics is local (sic), there’s justification for this making sense. People from a distinct area seem to have opinions that are different from another distinct area. Say, Californians think differently than Maine-ians. California has a lot of votes due to its population, whereas Maine has a disproportianate amount of votes. This gives Maine a little more clout despite its small population.

I hope this isn’t too much of an expression of an opinion: A general, direct election would mean that the mood-of-the-day of a large, uneducated (politically) population would tend to dictate the course of the country. Look at the extreme liberalism of most of Europe. Even an American liberal is viewed as a right-winger over there.

I’m afraid , drhess, that politics and history are mostly opinion. Certainly all three of Balthisar’s paragraphs are debatable and I would point out the flaws in her post if I were allowed. As for your question about other countries, even that is opinion rather than fact. Certainly there are other countries that use, or used, something called an “electoral college”. France had one before 2000, Finland before 1987, Pakistan still has one, the Vatican selects their leader by the College of Cardinals, and South Africa may still use an electoral college, I’m not sure if they have changed since the end of Aparthied. But whether those systems are similar to ours is debatable. In fact, I argue that America’s system can’t be fairly called an electoral college in the first place.

Since we can’t explore these questions fully I suggest we hold our water until the mods decide what they want to do with this thread.

We didn’t have such a thing. What are you refering to?
The only thing remotely similar I can think of is that the senators aren’t elected directly but by local elected officials. Each “commune” (these are the former parishes, roughly, so they range in size from a one hundred souls tiny village to Paris) has a number of votes dependant on its size but not at all proportionnal to it. Say, in the case of the tiny village, the mayor will cast a vote, in the case of a little town, perhaps a handful or a dozen members of the town council will vote. The members of the elected councils at the “department” (county) and region levels also vote. As a result, the rural areas are vastly overrepresented amongst the electors of the senate. But the senate has much less power than the lower chamber in France.

It wouldn’t make much sense to have an electoral college in France, anyway, since it’s not a federal country (and at the contrary a very centralized one).

No offence taken, but for future reference the correct pronoun would be “his.” :eek:

Hmmm. I was mistaken. A few years ago or so I came across a website that talked about how France had eliminated their electoral college. Or thought I did, I can’t find it now. Sorry for any confusion.

I’ll try to remember. If you care about which pronoun people use then I suggest you list your gender in your public profile. If I’m unsure I check to see if the poster has identified themself. If they don’t I’ve decided to use the female as my default pronoun. I figured you were prolly a guy because you are an engineer but who knows?

Can we get a ruling from a mod on the appropriateness of this thread in GQ?

What in the world is your problem? People are providing factual information. This isn’t a post about what people think of the EC, it’s about how it works and similarities anywhere else. History and politics may not be subjects for definitive answers, but they are related to potential answers in the GQ boards all the time.

This is the third time you’ve made a post like this. Move on.

I thought you wanted answers to your questions. My mistake.

Carry on.

I don’t remember the exact number (I have it somewhere in an essay I wrote) but the number of nations where the executive is 1) directly elected, 2) in a national vote, 3) in a "one election, one winner take all "situation is very very low. Something like 4-6 nations total.