General Electoral Collage Thread

In your OP it seemed like you were discussing who gained or lost as a practical matter, which is how the issue of the EC is usually debated. Now it appears that you really object to it from a philosophical standpoint.

You could really take it a step further and demand government by referendum. After all, when my Senator votes for a bill that he favored in his campaign, and to which I specifically objected, my voice is not being heard at all. Instead, the voices of the majority who favored this bill are the sole ones being heard. Point being that my voice was heard at the point of electing the guy, and no further. So too with the Electoral College, everyone gets to have their voice heard at the point of electing the electors, and no further.

Begging your pardon, DSYoungEsq. I brought up my democratic postition in response to other posters. If you dispute my arguments because you don’t share my assumptions and then refuse to address those assumptions, what is there to debate? The goal of one side of the argument is to change the system. If you are unwilling to consider change then why bother clicking the reply button?


We can certainly agree that there is such a thing as fraud under our current system. I could argue that containing the fraud concentrates the danger. Tampering in a few key areas could change the outcome of the election. Kicking people who traditionally support your political opponents off the voter rolls would be more difficult and noticeable on a national scale than in a singe state.

Though I am unable to find any Western nation that does so, I believe that a national vote to elect a leader can be managed. I don’t suppose that anyone is aware of an example? The French eliminated their electoral college but only just last year. Are we more timid than the French? :wink:

No. It is the EC which causes people to feel that their vote doesn’t count. The Nader-Trader movement would never get underweigh under a popular vote. There wouldn’t be any worthless votes to trade for. This is the logical error that DS pointed out. There is no right to win.

Doctor Jackson:

While obviously not above the gratuitous comment, I am content to confine the debate to the EC. That’s because my agenda in this thread is to have a discussion on the Electoral Collage. I’ll try to control my knee-jerk reactions to OT comments that I find insulting ( such as “mob rule” or the implication that I should be so satisfied with my right to free speech that I should shut up ). But when posters support the Electoral Collage with their own assumptions then I am going to attack them. This certainly is more than a little to do with the EC. I am particularly interested in debating “tyranny of the majority” in this context.

My view is no secret. You may notice that others here are familiar with it. I am not hiding anything.
I suggest that since you know so little about my position it is foolish to thoughtlessly dismiss it.


Your slippery slope argument is fallacious. The ground is firm; I just happen to be standing a bit downhill from you. We both are standing where we feel that democracy works best. If you have a specific problem with eliminating the EC then we can discuss it but please don’t imply that stepping down will necessarily send us tumbling into the abyss. Or at least support that assertion.

This point is an explanation rather than an argument. I understand that this is the way things currently stand. You are correct in that I have philosophical problems with how peoples’ voices are heard.
( BTW- Thanks, SPOOFE for giving me the benefit of the doubt by assuming that I disagreed with rather than misunderstood the situation. That was a nice change of pace. )

[sub][Dersive “mob rule” sig omitted][/sub]

2sense said:

I’m a Pennsylvanian who voted for Bush, but I fail to see how this differs from anybody who votes for a losing candidate at any level.

Personally, I’d keep the Electoral vote but do away with the Electors–make the vote automatic. I’d also divide things the way Maine does–award one Electoral vote per Congressional district, and two votes for taking the state overall. I’d also add 51 Electoral votes for winning a plurality of the national vote–one for each state plus DC. Thus each individual vote would be three votes in one–one for the district vote, one for the state votes, and one for the national votes.

I assume that this method would have elected Gore, which wouldn’t please me, but I think it would be a good system nonetheless.

Hi Myster,

You didn’t really vote for Bush. People don’t elect the President, states do.
Penna voted for Gore.

The difference between a straight vote and a 2level vote is that in the first you just vote. In the 2nd, votes are bundled after the first level. Minorities are eliminated and their support, plus that of those who didn’t indicate a preference, are added to the choice of the seperate majorities. Then the vote is taken at the 2nd level.

Basically the difference is that in a simple election all votes count.
In a districted election, some do not.

The only advantage that I see in your districted proposal over the EC is that it is more likely to coincide with the popular vote.
What makes you prefer it to a straight vote?

Just my 2sense

I didn’t make a slippery slope argument. Merely pointed out that your position is not one side of a black and white issue, but rather a different point on the slope. Which you seem to agree with, so we can leave it at that.


In that case I apologise for mischaracterizing your post.
I took your reference to government by referendum as a cautionary note.

Yes, I am not taking an absolutist position. I am willing to accept undemocratic features in government. I just do not see the benefit in trading equality for the EC. Unfortunately for this thread, no one other than SPOOFE seems to be willing to undertake the justification of the college.

Perhaps I misjudged the interest in this topic.

Just my 2sense

Er… Not to demean The Spoofter’s contribution, of course.
Just that this doesn’t seem the hot topic I thought ( or hoped, frankly ).

2sense’s likeness created by Quizle.
Quizle created by Highlander and Melin.

You knew I couldn’t agree with you, 2sense. If I did, your head might explode, and I don’t want that on my conscience.

As you point out, it’s a two-level election. Pennsylvania voted for Gore because the voters of Pennsylvania gave him a plurality of their votes. I voted for a candidate for president who didn’t win the state’s electors; I also voted for candidates for US Senator, US Representative (a write-in), PA Representative, Attorney General, and Auditor General who didn’t win. I don’t see any difference between the one and the others.

Simply that it makes it less likely that smaller areas will be completely ignored. I’m froma smaller area–we get ignored enough as it is.

Most people only notice the Electoral College during presidential elections, and that only from the elector counts on the networks. It only becomes a big deal when the Electoral vote and the popular vote don’t coincide–and while that happened this past election, the last time before that was in 1888 when a guy with a long beard beat a guy with the first name of a Muppet. A quirk which occurs once every 112 years just ain’t gonna rile the masses up.

**SirEcks **:

I’m having a hard time making this point more clear.
Lets think about it this way: Lets pretend that the 2level vote is really just a straight vote and see what measures would be needed to recreate the possibilities of the EC.
Everyone votes. Then the votes would be collected in each state capitol. The votes are counted and those from people who chose the most popular candidate are shipped off to Washington. The rest of the votes would be thrown into the trash.
That’s what I mean when I say that your vote was thrown in the trash.

That is an oversimplification. In order to fully create the analogy to the EC the electoral staff would then have to fill a ballot out picking the most popular candidate for every other person in the state and send them on with the rest of the votes. In Washington as they finished counting the “choice” of each voter they would add a uniform number of votes to each state tally. Votes cast by no voter. Only then could the votes be counted and a winner determined.

I don’t think that votes should be thrown away. I don’t thinks that other votes should be manufactured. Candidates should only get votes from people who voted for them.

I don’t think that areas should matter. As The Good Squire pointed out, there is no right to win. If more people oppose an option, it shouldn’t be taken.

I also don’t accept that the EC protects small areas. The choice or nonchoice of a majority of those who live there is usurped. The extra electoral power given to states with small populations can’t make up for this, because it is added to the tally of the very candidate the local majority failed to support. Should that majority feel empowered because the voice of their neighbors ( who they disagree with ) has extra weight?

No! No! [sub]no…[/sub]

The only positive I found in the election was that I would no longer have to hear about how long it has been since this all mattered. Now I have to hear this?
I hate you! :smiley:

Thankfully, for my sanity anyway, another applicable point came up in the election threads. While we normally say that Gore won the popular vote, we can’t use that to assume that Gore would have won if we had held a popular vote. People voted under the current electoral system and this may have affected their choice. People in Texas, for instance, may not have bothered to vote because the outcome wasn’t in doubt. People may have voted for someone other than the person they did. We don’t know. By the same token, we can’t simply assume that all the Presidents in over a century would have won a popular vote.
Because we have never had a popular vote.

No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. - James Madison

I made an error in that 2nd sentence, plus it could use a clarification.
By the local majority here I am refering to those who voted for someone other than the leading candidate plus those who didn’t vote. Since many didn’t register a choice I can’t really state that those people disagreed with the chosen candidate. We have no way of knowing how they felt.

I have to admit to a sense of guilty pleasure about stealing these Republicans arguments.

Just my 2sense

OK, I said I’d a few ideas for this thread, so here goes:

The Electoral College, as currently instituted, is an anacronism. I think we can all aggree on that. That having been said, it’s not totally without use, but needs updating.

I propose:

  1. Ditch the “Unit Rule”. This is the ‘winner-take-all’ rule that most (48, AIR) states use. It suits both of the majority parties, as it essentially keeps all other political parties off the presidential map. Basically, it means that we stay a two party system, no matter how many candidates are in the running.
  2. Replace the Unit Rule with a modification: Each states electors are decided as follows: Each Representative District designates an Elector bound to the vote of that District; The Senatorial Electors are bound to the largest vote-getter vote of the entire state. That means that small states will still effectively be a three Elector block, while large states will be much more diverse. States such as California or Pennsylvania might wind up granting electors bound to three or more candidates. It means that small states are no longer side-shows, skipped by most candidates, while someone like Nader might actually make a decent showing. It oughta put ‘paid’ to NaderTrading, as well.
    3)Hi, Opal! :slight_smile:

OK, Folks. Have at it! Tell me how I’m wrong, or how to make my idea better.

First, I’ll have to go on record as a supporter of the EC system. Luckily, many others have gone before me and waxed eloquently on the subject. (And, I have trouble waxing my own car.)

I can offer the following input derived from two excellent articles on the subject.

William C. Kimberling, Deputy Director of the Federal Election Commission, discusses in his article “The Electoral College” both side of the debate, and gives much relevant history. One very important point given in favor of the EC is that the system requires the winning candidate to have both a sufficient number of votes (note it doesn’t require the MOST) AND adequate distribution of those votes to maintain the cohesiveness in the country. In other words if a particular state had far an away more people than the others it could nearly always elect a ‘favorite son’ to the highest office in the land. The founding fathers feared this to a degree.

The article can be found here:

Another very excellent article is Will Hively’s “Math Against Tyranny” as published in the November 1996 Discover Magazine. Hively also covers the ‘distribution’ issue along with a detailed study of the mathematics of voting. He likens electing a president to baseball’s World Series. In 1960 (also a very close election year) the Yankees scored more than twice the runs as the Pirates (55-27), but the Pirates won the series 4 games to 3. So you have to get some runs (votes), but more importantly you have to win games (states). I great quote from the article:

“Experts, scholars, deep thinkers could make errors on electoral reform,” Natapoff decided, “but nine-year-olds could explain to a Martian why the Yankees lost in 1960, and why it was right. And both have the same underlying abstract principle.”

The article is:

My couple o’ pennies.


Problems with your proposal.

A. It doesn’t eliminate all the problems associated with the “winner take all” rule because it is “winner take a lot”. That is, the districts are smaller but the winner of them still gets its vote. A Democrat would have as much interest in pandering to a southern district which hadn’t voted for their party since the South stopped being solid as Gore had in convincing Texans to vote for him.

B. In those “safe” districts there would be the permanantly disenfranchised supporters of the other party. As long as there are worthless local votes to be exchanged for enough overall votes to qualify for federal campaign funds, nadertradering won’t be eliminated.

C. It doesn’t help third parties all that much. In each district there would only be one winner. In each state there would only be 2 general votes up for grabs. They would go to the Democrat and the Republican. Each district vote would go to one or the other. Where does a third party fit in?

In short, this won’t fix the problems of the current system.
The only benefit I see in it is that it would make it slightly less likely for a popular candidate to lose an election. Not as unlikely as MysterEcks’ proposal, however. BTW- You were correct in your post, there are 2 states which have proportional voting, Maine and Nebraska.

Just my 2sense

Hi **hermn8r **, Welcome aBoard.

I have grappled with Math Against Tyranny before.

Not quite.
The World Series crown goes to the team that wins the most games. The baseball gods don’t decide that games three and four should be more important and a team that wins them, even if they only win one other game, should be the declared the winner.

I’m no mathmetician but Natapoff’s assertions make no sense to me.
We are less vulnerable to tyranny based on the power of our elections, not the power of the votes in that election. The EC is no more powerful than a popular vote. They are the same because they both would do the same thing, pick the President. In order for the EC to be more powerful it would need to effect the political situation more than a simple election would. It does not.

Also, as I have pointed out ad nauseam, votes aren’t equal under the EC. Voting is a zero sum game. The only point is to choose a leader. Any additional electoral weight added to a certain vote must be subtracted from other votes. Plus, giving extra weight to games three and four certainly does mean that the runs in those other games aren’t equal.

Kimberling’s work is new to me. A full refution will take some time but just reading his explanation of the history of the EC I quickly came to the conclusion that he isn’t particularly reliable. He states that direct election wasn’t rejected because the Tyrants doubted the intelligence of the public. Instead he suggests that they felt that they would lack the knowledge needed to apply that intelligence. This is a distinction without much of a difference. "No, they didn’t think people were stupid. They thought they were ignorant. The following statements made at the constitutional convention indicate a feeling that people were both, as well as irresponsible:

Those are hardly votes of confidance in the reliability of regular Americans.

Kimberling also fails to mention the fear that those of lesser means would use democracy to remove the privileges and property of the elite. Furthermore, no understanding of the dificulties with the popular vote at the time is complete without considering the problem of suffrage within the populations of the states. The EC is based on congressional representation. Therefor the southern states had the “vote” of its slaves ( which counted as 3/5 of a person ). Those slaves wouldn’t be voting and their electoral power would be lost in a popular vote. In a populist system a state could choose to expand its suffrage and gain more votes. Those votes would be cast by less wealthy citizens. These weren’t comforting possibilities for the elite.

To address the argument that you bring forth, I disagree that the EC is necessary to get an adequate distribution of votes to maintain cohesiveness in America. To me this makes sense only from an EC standpoint. Under the current system we refer to regional appeal with statements such as “this state supports a candidate and that one doesn’t”. In fact, even in Texas, which everyone conceded to Bush, Gore still got 38% of the votes. So some of Texas supported Gore. Adequate distribution may have been more important back in the day. Today, the differences in the major parties ( to the extent that they exist ) aren’t geographic but mostly concern economic and social policy.

Hi! I’m a Weenie
What’s your sign?

OK, fair enough, but then again, the winner should take a lot. It certainly would’ve put a different spin on the last election. Modifications would force candidates to spend more time on the ‘swing’ districts, making it a lot tougher to sew-up an entire state with one or two visits. That alone would break-up their momentum.

There will always be disenfrachised voters. In every election, save for the hypothetical unanimous election, someone isn’t going to get their choice. You may be right, however, IRT NaderTrading.

By breaking the EC Votes into smaller blocks, the minority parties now have a chance to focus their efforts very specifically. While this wouldn’t have given Nader 26 EC Votes, it likely could’ve given him 5 or 10, which would’ve likely altered the final accounting. Or, to go a bit further back, the Keebler Elf, Perot, would likely have been able to gather upwards of 100 EC Votes, which would’ve made the national scene really interesting.

By enabling small parties to grab swing districts, two things are accomplished: They get a chance to be something other than ‘fringe’, even if they’re only promoted to ‘also-ran’; The majority parties have to pay closer attention to what the minority parties say, to avoid losing important swing districts, making them more responsive to ALL Americans, not just their core constituancies.

I’m not saying my proposal will be a magic bullet, but, I think that given time, we might evolve into a truly multiparty country.

Hi **Tranquilis **,

Since there is basically only one thing to be won, the Presidency, it has to be winner take all. But I have yet to see any reason why a “winner” should take anything until s/he has won. I don’t see the value in creating swing districts. How does empowering others help me?

While we are at it, what value would you place on campaign visits to a district? So the candidate comes and talks to the locals. What are the locals buying with their powerful votes?

Getting back to the first question, to whatever extent that the extra political clout helps some areas, how does that benefit the people in other districts?

I’m not sure why you think that breaking the momentum of a candidate is beneficial.
The more popular support for our leader the better, I should think.

I am trying to be precise but somehow “permanantly disenfranchised” slipped out. That phrase is a bit strong as we are discussing a single election here, not the entire political process. More simply I was referring to those who knew in advance that their prefered candidate wouldn’t win their district.


As I previously pointed out to DSYoungEsq, there is a difference between “losing a vote” in the sense that your candidate was outvoted and “losing a vote” in the sense that your vote is taken from you and cast for someone else.

On the cheeky elf, using the votes as they were cast in 1992- he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near a hundred electoral votes under your proposal. He recieved more than a quarter of the votes in only six states: MAINE (30.4%) UTAH (27.3%) , WYOMING (25.6%) , KANSAS (27.0%) , NEVADA (26.2%) , and MONTANA (26.1%). He finished first in none and therefor wouldn’t get any of the “senatoral” votes. We know that he didn’t win either election district in Maine. Wyoming and Montana are only one district so no Perot votes there. In Utah, Bush won 43.4% of the vote. I’d say that Kansas and Nevada would have been Perot’s best hope to gain an electoral vote under your system. I can’t be sure without more info ( I am using this data ) but I’m guessing that he wouldn’t have gotten a single vote. Certainly no more than a handful.

Even given that Perot would have campaigned more strongly in certain swing areas, it seems unlikely to me that he would get 100 votes. The other guys would be doing the same. But even if he did get a bunch, that wouldn’t have helped him much because that just would throw it into the House. Since he had no conressional backing he would not have been a factor beyond that point. The Congress is really the place to build a new national party.

There are other EC schemes that could be better for third parties. Assigning electors based on the percentage of votes in the state, for instance. ( Though it beats me what would be the fairest way to do so. ) In my last post I misunderstood your proposal to mean that the first and 2nd place finisher would both recieve a “senatoral” vote. Under that scheme, Perot would have gained a couple votes.

A philosophical problem with third parties is that if one gets big enough that would mean that the Presidency would usually end up being decided in the House of Representatives. This removes the question even further from the people.

No political dreamer was ever wild enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the States, and of compounding the American people into one common mass. - John Marshall ( McCulloch v. Maryland )