What's the point of the Electoral College

billehunt: It may not have made any difference. The point I was trying to make is that the body of voters can make bad decisions, and an electoral college can serve as a check on those bad decisions.

I.e., let us say that Al Bush comes out this summer and says he intends to ask Congress to repeal the Bill of Rights. The majority of sheep in this country applaud and vote for Al Bush as president, but the members of the electoral college vote their consciences and select George Gore to preserve the first 10 amendments. This is probably a piss-poor example, but I think the electoral college can serve as a check on mob rule.

I also see no evidence that having an electroal college has hurt this country. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

2sense: Protecting you from mob rule is not protecting you from yourself. Look up the definition of a mob sometime.

Peyote Coyote,

Love the handle by the way.

I don’t have a dictionary handy.

But I believe the expression “mob rule” is derived from large groups of angry people.
These groups, fed up with some problem, then lash out violently at perceived enemies.
I would guess that the common referance is the French Revolution.

You are saying that this is not the way to run a country.(I am guessing)

This is much different than saying that the majority of Americans are unable to safely decide who will represent them in government.

Let the people decide themselves.
If you are saying that they can’t,
Then you are taking an elitist position.

Of course, you should feel free to position yourself anywhere you please.

Your thoughts?

Victory can be discerned but not manufactured.

-Sun Tzu

Peyote: That might have been the original intention of the Electoral College, but no longer. I doubt that the electors would dare to change their votes, and if they did, I doubt that today the president they elected would have much credibility. No, I think the electors would pick “Al Bush” and let the will of the people assert itself. As well they should.

People today rightly see the Presidential election as a general direct election, not an indirect election.

I don’t think the EC is a huge threat to democracy; as I said before, it seems a curious anachronism. I think, however, that if we have another loser win in the EC, there will be a big call for its repeal.

If Cecil Adams did not exist, we would be obliged to create Him.

My thoughts, 2sense and Single Dad, amount to: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Single Dad is probably quite right about the electroal college defying the will of the voters. However, it would still require a constitutional amendment to get rid of the damn thing, and I think the expense is hardly worth it.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Improve it.
That’s just human nature, Peyote. If it weren’t, we’d still be walking everywhere we go. I see what you mean, though.
But I don’t think dumping the EC would end the world as we know it, and wouldn’t you be curious to see how the voting habits of people might change if they knew they were voting directly for the President?
Ok, so maybe I’m just bored with with all those signs and the "Maine Casts it’s votes for…

It is theoretically possible that an Electoral College could buck the will of the mob and defect to a pro-liberty candidate. Lots of stuff is theoretically possible. That’s why we have plenty of checks and balances. The Electoral College isn’t one of them.

Let’s say the people don’t believe this anti-liberty candidate, but that the mob who supports him are somehow able to find 538 loyalists to fill anti-liberty slates. Even more than 538 - what if Electors pledged to pro-liberty candidates defected? Like, say, if some of them hated Catholics, and one of the pro-liberty candidates were a Catholic … couldn’t they defect? (Not a hypothetical, a historical example.)

I guess I just don’t see why the individual voter is more susceptible to mob psychology than a machine politician chosen exclusively for loyalty. Defections are very rare; if I can detect a trend in them, it has nothing to do with liberty. It a regional trend (big surprise for an inherently sectionalizing institution?) from non-Southerners to Southerners. Not every defection has been this way, but a lot have: 1956, from Stevenson to Jones; 1960, from Kennedy to Byrd; 1988, from Dukakis to Bentsen.

Boris: Are you talking about the primary system or the general election? The EC is only in place for the general election. The primary system is even weirder than the EC, but that’s just a matter of internal party regulations and/or state law.

Peyote: As a good engineer, if you see a potential point of failure, you try to fix it before it fails. If the EC were to elect a president who lost the popular vote, I would call that, under our current philosophy, a failure.

If Cecil Adams did not exist, we would be obliged to create Him.

I’d like to point another thing: the term democracy was brought into this thread friends of the Electoral College, not its opponents. In an ideal representative democracy, all elected officials are purely delegates of public opinion, injecting none of their own opinion; any departure from their voting orders would be considered a “defection”, rather than a “vote of conscience”. Sounds kind of familiar in this context, doesn’t it?

What I meant was that each state has it’s own population and way of life–like a little country. The electoral college makes sure that the states keep their power.

About that president bit–He does if he wants their electoral votes.

I would vote, but I’m not old enough :slight_smile:

Can someone explain that defection thing? I thought that the ALL the votes(no exceptions) of the electoral college goto which candidate depending on the popular vote of the state. This system makes sure that each state get’s representation poportionate to their population.

I’m only talking about general elections here. Yes, the partisan primary and convention rules are super-weird. I’m not sure which party of my interminable rant you’re asking about; I’m guessing it’s the Dukakis -> Bentsen defection in 1988. Yeah, that was an Elector, not a convention delegate. She was from West Virginia, pledged to the Dukakis-Bentsen. Chose Bentsen for President and Dukakis for Vice President.

If that had “hung the College”, i.e. deprived the leader of a majority (say if Dukakis had done much better in November, and a few more Dukakis Electors had defected), then the House would have chosen, with states voting en bloc, among Dukakis, Bentsen, and Bush. The Senate would have chosen, by ballot, from among Bentsen and Quayle. (12th Amendment)

How would a Democratic House delegation choose between Dukakis and Bentsen? They could figure “The People” wanted Dukakis since he got the nomination, but what if their state’s electors had mainly been defectors? Whose to say “The People” didn’t like Bentsen better? It’s not like they ever ran against each other. If the Senate (elected in 1982, 1984, and 1986) gave the Vice Presidency to Bentsen, and they’d be likely to choose before the House, would this prejudice the Representatives pro or con? I mean, if Bentsen got both offices, he’d just resign the VPcy and appoint somebody else. Is this a big constitutional deal or not?. What if Quayle won the VPcy but the House favored Dukakis or Bentsen?

These questions are all terribly moot. The only precedent is 1824. Does this process safeguard against mob rule? Do you, or do you not, like these provisions of the 12th Amendment?

I just glanced through the Constitution and noticed that it doesn’t mention “the people” voting for the president, or voting for the electors.

Could a state decide to take away their residents ability to vote for presidential electors? Could a state stipulate that their electors are chosen by the governor directly if they wanted to?

Also, in addition to the benefits above, the Electoral College increases the power of the average voter. A single vote is more likely to swing an election with the Electoral College than with a direct election.

Electors are chosen by popular vote by tradition rather than by Constitutional requirement. South Carolina’s Electors were chosen by its legislature until the Civil War; most other states moved to popular election of Electors in the Jacksonian era or before.

By the way, the election system need not be the same. State law defines it. 48 or 49 states use statewide, winner-take-all, plurality rule; Maine (and Nebraska?) use a system which mirrors Congressional elections: each candidate wins an elector for each Congressional District they win, plus two for the Statewide victor. Thus, each Maine voter votes for a slate of three of the state’s four electors.

Boris B:

Of course. Still, it’s a fun debate. :slight_smile: It’s not like any of us have that much pressing business we’re delaying! :wink:

I really don’t see how. The original proposal does have some protection, but we haven’t used that system in 100 years.

I don’t really. I think it’s complicated and has the potential (as you noted in various scenarios) to create weirdness interfering with the moral authority and perceived legitimacy of the President.

A direct election is simpler, easier, less ambiguous, and is what most Americans believe they are doing in the first place.

Last time you voted for President, who were the electors you voted for? Bet you don’t remember, I sure don’t. I’m placing my vote in the hands of someone who’s name I don’t even know, much less their character or trustworthiness.

If Cecil Adams did not exist, we would be obliged to create Him.

Ok, you guys. I’ll talk to Ole Bill and see if maybe we can try out this direct popular vote thing for a few elections and see how it works. Why not?

Thanks, mangeorge, I knew you would come through for us. :wink:

Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.

Boris B,

en bloc

I am deeply humbled by your gentle correction.:0

Of course, I allready double posted.
And forgot when the Corrupt Bargain was.

Speaking of the CB. How can this be described as weirdness? I’m thinking it would look pretty familiar to Americans.

I picture it going down with all the nondrama of the impeachment hearings.

Do we want our elections decided on party line votes?

Victory can be discerned… - Sun Tzu
But appearently not by me.

Hey, 2sense, did I correct you? You don’t have to say “en bloc” if you don’t want to. I just like to use French cause I didn’t study it in high school, and I figure dropping it into BBS essays would be a good way to catch up, non?

Seriously, though, I can’t remember where I picked that expression up. Oh now I remember. [red face] I think it’s the way you describe an ammunition loading clip, when you don’t strip it like a Lee-Enfield charger, but stick it into the magazine like a Garand clip. So maybe it’s a malapropism when applied to Representatives…?

Never use a foreign phrase or expression when there is an adequate English quid pro quo

The Electoral College will not be amended out of the Constitution for a simple reason: it doesn’t NOT work.

Yeah, in today’s society it might not make sense, and pretty clearly it doesn’t avoid the ‘evils’ the founding fathers were trying to ward off with it (but then again they couldn’t stop political parties, either). But, with VERY few exceptions, and none in the last almost 175 years now, the result from the Electoral College mimicked precisely the result from the general election.

With few exceptions, we amend the Constitution to remedy things not working well, or creating perceived injustice (e.g.: granting the franchise to women and 18 year olds). The 12th Amendment fixed the problems shown to exist in the original methodology for picking a vice-president (exemplified by the selection of TJ to that post in 1796). The election of 1826 resulted in the creation of party conventions to select nominated candidates; we haven’t had any true troubles since with the College (Tilden lost because the Republicans stole the election by manipulating the result to suit their ‘needs’). If it ain’t really broke, don’t bother to try and fix it. :slight_smile:

Boris B:

Mais certainmont!

I’m dying over here.

(pretend I know how to make the laughing graemlin HERE. You know, the yellow one that really looks like it’s laughing.)


Just putting my 2sense in.

Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered.

-Thomas Paine (fugitive slave catcher)

Do we want our “ties” to be decided on party line votes?(see PPs)

If I may be permitted a sports analogy.
This is like having a NFL game, after an overtime period, decided by a vote of the crowd.
Sure, it wouldn’t happen often. But the result is predictable.

So, how does the ellecteral college qualify as “not broke”?

Just putting my 2sense in.

Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered.
-Thomas Paine (fugitive slave catcher)