Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 68, describes the Electoral Collge like this:
The original vision of the EC was a body of learned people who were to use their own judgement to select a President. The Electoral College of today is not like that at all. It is a body of people who are diehard political hacks selected by their political party so the outcome of their vote is practically foreordained. Making their own judgements is explicitly discouraged.
I think we should return to the original vision of the Electoral College. If we’re going to allow a system that will ignore the popular will of the people, why not do it in style?
The EC does not ignore the will of the people. To the contrary, the union would never have been formed without it, and I doubt that many states would have joined later if it weren’t in place. There is a prodedure in place to amend the constitution if the people so desire.
It ignores the will of the people. The will of the people doesn’t matter. These days the only thing that matters is “swing voters” from “crucial battleground states” like Ohio and Florida. A Utah Democrat voting for President counts for nothing and probably never will count for anything in the foreseeable future. Likewise, a Washington DC Republican vote is a complete waste.
A practical solution: Have as many states as possible pass laws awarding all of their electoral votes to the nationwide popular vote winner. But, to avoid the “first mover” problem, have each such law provide that it won’t take effect unless and until states accounting for at least 270 electoral votes adopt the same law.
(By the “first mover problem”, I mean that any state would be insane to adopt this system on its own. It would be unilaterally renouncing its electoral votes. But once states with 270 votes have adopted this system, it would kick into effect and voila–we would have a de facto nationwide popular vote election regardless of the action of any remaining state.)
This solution wouldn’t require Congressional action, so 34 Senators from small states can’t block it. And it wouldn’t require ratification by 38 legislatures, so 13 small states which benefit from the existing system can’t block it. As few as 12 states (if they are the largest 12) could bring it into effect. Some of those states have initiative processes if the legislature proves refractory.
In fact, I offer this to the good citizens of Colorado as a recommendation for their next electoral vote initiative; it would be far superior to the flawed proposal that they recently (and rightly) rejected. As soon as one state passes the law with the appropriate delayed-action trigger, momentum will begin to build.
Touché. It’s just the thought that the whole election was basically decided by about 3% of voters in Ohio who were undecided the day before the election. What persuaded them? Was it that silly “wolves” ad Bush put out? Who knows? I have a feeling that that narrow group of people that politicians have to pander to aren’t the shiniest pennies in the barrel, if you catch my drift.
Would that be a bad thing? I don’t really like the fact that a citizen from Wyoming has a vote that counts more than mine does, but I can see why the system works the way it works. If the system were only based on popular votes, candidates could safely ignore small states in both their campaign stops and their campaign promises. Right now, people are complaining because swing states get all the attention; however, in a popular system NYC, LA, and other big cities would get all the press. Wyoming would never have the voter numbers to “matter.” So I don’t see a problem with tipping the scales and giving their votes a little more power, to make up for the power they lose by living in an underpopulated area.
Getting rid of the winner take all system and keeping the EC would be fine with me. It would force candidates to campaign in areas they normally consider unwinnable (Dems in Texas, Pubs in NYC), because they’d be bound to win at least a few votes in all but the most diehard red and blue states and areas. It would also handicap the race enough so that voters from small states would not have an insurmountable disadvantage.
Hamilton also felt that only white, male, land owners should be allowed to vote for the electors.
Sorry, that doesn’t make a bit of sense to me.
I don’t see the EC as being bad. Instead of just winning one election a candidate has to win the majority of 50 ‘little’ elections. As far as the problem of certain states always going red or blue, well that’s just the way it goes. And they don’t always. Reagan won every state but Minnesota, Nixon all but Mass. Having the election come down to a ‘battleground’ state isn’t a fault of the EC, its simply a consequence of a very close election. And the candidates have to do a lot of work to ensure a close election. Even when it comes down to that 3% its the half of the other 97% that got them there.
And believe me, as far as having your vote count, voting GOP in NY sucks. My solution would be to break away from f*cking NYC into West New York.
Amen. Which is why I despise and am openly hostile to any ridiculous ‘Get out the vote’ crap. Voting is a perfectly self-regulating system. I would never ever want to prevent someone from voting, but if you’re too lazy/apathetic/uninformed/stupid to bother wanting to vote then the last thing I or anyone else should do is encourage you to. It defies common sense.
The small states don’t seem to matter much under our current system anyway. With our electoral college system, there’s *zero/i] incentive for a candidate to visit Wyoming. It’s a lock for the Republicans. With direct elections there’s at least a chance a candidate will vist that state. If every vote counts then turning out more votes is good for you even if it’s not the majority of the state.
Polls going back at least to 1950 show a majority of Americans in favor of abolition of the EC yet it remains. To me ignoring a persistant majority seems to be ignoring the will of the people.
This seems to be assume that the Constitution represented the will of the people in 1788. That’s a stretch. The “Federalists” didn’t depend on popular ratification after due consideration. They were focused on success and not democratic nicities. From what I understand the election returns, such as they are, show the votes for candidates identifiably in favor or opposed to ratification were approximately equal. If more time had been allowed for the issue to be weighed it would have been better understood in the backcountry, usually the stronghold of “Antifederalism”, and the vote might have turned out different. Or perhaps without the early heavy-handed tactics of the “Federalists” to fan opposition ratification would have went smoother.
Nor is it a fact that the EC was some cornerstone to the success of the plan dreamt up in the convention in 1787. Until nearly the end it appeared that the president would be chosen directly by Congress and limited to a single term. Back in those days term limits or “rotation” were deemed a democratic device and were likely unpopular in the convention on that basis. Plus everyone knew who the first national executive would be if the Constitution was ratified and Washington didn’t want to be limited to a single term. Still, various schemes for electors were proposed by the nationalists right from the start but were resisted for some time. There seems little reason to believe ratification would have been more difficult if the other option for selecting the president was retained.
Nor do I see any reason to assume that a lack of a system of electors would have discouraged new states from joining the Union. Tejas was an independent state but the rest were carved out of lands already claimed by the United States. The choice was territorial status or accept the Constitution as is. They were under federal jurisdiction and could have some representation or none.
In any case, even if the ratification did represent the will of the people in 1788 and the EC an indispensible component of that ratification and it was a factor in bringing new states into the Union in the past it still wouldn’t contradict the assertion that the EC ignores the will of the people alive today.
And finally, as I have argued numerous times and **Freddy the Pig ** has already pointed out here, it isn’t necessary to amend the Constitution to institute a de facto direct popular vote.
Not with that attitude? Who’s your state assemblyman and your state senator? Let them know you want a change. Write 'em a letter.
This “majority wants the dump the EC” is useless, though, because it’s only a major issue once every four years and the rest of the time, interest wanes and falls asleep with its little furry legs twitching dreamily in the air. If you want to get people interested, tell 'em it’ll make it easier to elect President Schwartzenegger.