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This was originally posted and created by James Egnor-Keil.
It was accidentally deleted due to a forum update error during the creation of Stage One of the Roundtables.
The Electoral College is fundamentally undemocratic.
The United States Electoral College has served to make the United States the only democracy in the world in which someone can assume the highest position of public office without receiving the most votes. This system has undermined the democratic power of the People in presidential elections (e.g., Bush v. Gore, 2000) by allowing a candidate to take the presidency without receiving a simple majority of the national Popular Vote.
The present Electoral College system has enabled (or could possibly enable) the following to occur:
-The national Popular Vote to become irrelevant, thus defying the most fundamental principle of democracy: One Person, One Vote.
-Presidential candidates to focus exclusively on large swing states, ignoring nearly four-fifths of voters.
-A presidential candidate to win the election by winning only eleven states and ignoring the rest of the country. If a candidate were to take California (55), Texas (38), New York (29), Florida (29), Illinois (20), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Michigan (16), Georgia (16), North Carolina (15), and New Jersey (14), that ticket would receive 270 electoral votes, enough to claim victory.
-Lower voter turnout and participation in comparison to other democratic nations, as voter turnout is largely insignificant in states that house entrenched political party domination.
-Obscurity of disenfranchisement within states, as a state's electoral vote remains the same regardless of voter turnout. If a state were to suppress voters through various means of disenfranchising specific minority groups, the electoral vote count would remain the same, but the candidate to which those votes are allocated could ultimately be manipulated.
-A structural disadvantage for third parties via the First-Past-the-Post model.
The 1787 Constitutional Convention approved the Committee of Eleven's recommendation that the office of President be elected by a group of people apportioned among the States in the same numbers as their representatives to the U.S. Congress.
All eligible voters in the United States, and by extension all American citizens, are impacted by the presidential election, as the result plays a role in the direction of future national policy.
Primary: The Office of the Federal Register (link: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/)
Secondary: Discover Magazine (link: http://discovermagazine.com/2004/sep/math-against-tyranny#.UR69oqVQFK8)
Designer: James Egnor-Keil (james [dot] ryan [dot] ekgmail [dot] com)
I agree that the Electoral College should be reformed. The question is how to reform it. I think that there will plenty of proposals of "how" to add to this proposal.
I know Duffy and I had been engaging in some debate; sad to see it disappear. I'm open to re-presenting a bit of that conversation if he is.
However, for now I would like to present the idea I've been researching and mulling over. This passage is included in a book I'm in the process of writing, so it will have some bookish elements.
Many advocates for electoral reform call for complete abolition of the Electoral College, a solution that carries with it great risk. The fact that the number of 'electors' allocated to each state is the same as the number of senators and representatives the state holds in Congress is no accident: when state representation to the federal government was first determined, the Founding Fathers struck a fine balance between the interests of states with higher populations and those with lower populations. States with more inhabitants would hold greater representation in the House of Representatives, while smaller states would find equality in the Senate. Forming the Electoral College in reflection of each state's standing political power was an excellent means of ensuring that the office of President is as closely representative of national interest as possible. To completely do away with the Electoral College will ultimately do more harm than good.
Instead, the nationwide implementation of a Proportional Electoral College system, in which electors would be allocated to a candidate in proportion to the percentage of votes cast for that candidate, would be a far more realistic and beneficial. Simply put, consider the following: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania presently carries twenty electoral votes. Under the current plurality-based system, the candidate that receives the most votes in the state receives all twenty of those electors. Under a Proportional Electoral College system, if the winning candidate received 60% of the vote and the candidate in second place received 40% , those candidates would receive twelve and eight electors, respectively.
The same would occur across the country, with the electoral vote more accurately representing the popular vote while maintaining the integrity of the Electoral College. Not all states boast all Democratic or all Republican Congressmen, so why should all a state's electoral votes go completely Democratic or completely Republican? With a Proportional Electoral College system, each state would retain its political power, but that political power would be more representative of that state's population.
Under this system, the United States can expect an increase in voter turnout and more accurate representation of all parties in a state, as voters will no longer see their votes as being “wasted” in a “safe” state for a party they don't support. Furthermore, candidates seeking the presidency will be encouraged to campaign in all states rather than just the 'battleground' states, enforcing the point that every state is valuable. The candidate that receives the majority of votes will still receive the majority of electors, but the efforts of the minority candidate and his or her supporters will not be completely nullified by a loss.
The debate is still there. They actually just copied your proposal and moved it here. And again, I think I understand what your goal is, but I think you overestimate the number of people disenfranchised, and underestimate the number of people that are just apathetic.
I will grant that your proposal may increase somewhat actual turnout, but it makes the problem with targeting campaigning worse. Where are you going to expend your resources? Under your system, in the states with the highest per capita population. As well, you understand, a state can do what you suggest already, this is an issue the Framers left up to the states. And I think your proposal is another way to dilute the one advantage the Electoral College holds.
I am still evaluating the whole thing, there are points I appreciate, but I hate the idea of making the system any more complicated than it has to be. And that is the problem I have with most proposals for electoral reform, they are way too complicated. And when that happens, I keep wondering what angle is being played for what purpose. There is already to much manipulation going on.
Agree that EC reforms need more analysis. So far the only electoral reform we agree on (generally - not unanimously) is adopting Approval Voting ( i.e., One candiate one vote) for all electoral contests with one winner. It also adheres to Duffy's KISS principle.
I strongly disagree that the Electoral College is undemocratic or obsolete. I believe the concept was a stroke of genius is as needed today as it was at the beginning for the same reasons.
What I do disagree with is how it has become winner-take-all. That change has altered the fundamental principle significantly.
As originally designed, electors were essentially awarded proportionately since people voted for the electors themselves and not the actual candidates.
I fee a realistic system for today would award electors based on which candidate carried a given Congressional district, with the overall State winner receiving the two electors that represent a State's Senate seats. That is, whatever candidate won a given CD would get one elector for that CD, and whoever won the entire state (based on popular vote) would receive two extra electors.
This would restore the proportional flavor, while maintaining, and even enhancing the regional influence. That was one of the main reasons for the EC in the first place, to prevent large population centers from running roughshod over rural areas.
Again, I fully support the concept of having the Electoral College and am firmly opposed to any plan that would replace it with a popular vote.
There is a very simple "fix" required - the Presidential popular vote is tabulated by Congressional district, and the representative for that district is the "elector" for that district and is mandated to vote for the district's Presidential "winner." The two senators for the state are also "electors" and mandated to vote for the state's presidential popular vote winner.
For the first round of voting, it is exactly as above.
If a second round is needed, then the state senators are free to cast their vote as they see fit, but the district representatives are still bound by the popular vote.
If a third round is needed, then the district representatives are also free to cast their vote as they see fit.
if more than three rounds are needed, then they continue until a winner is finally declared.
If it is necessary to have a second or subsequent round of voting, it must be open to the broadcast media to present to the public in its entirety, so that all can see their "electors" in action.
What's so hard about that? In this manner the"electors" are always known and are supposedly folk for whom the public has already shown some confidence, rather than unknowns doing the unadvertised in some hidden fashion. The concept of Electoral College is still maintained.