Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Should we Abolish the Electoral College?

Presidents of the United States are not elected by popular vote, but rather by the states of the Union. Each state selects individuals designated as "electors," who then vote on the next President. These electors constitute the "Electoral College."

All fifty states now allow the people to elect the electors. What this means is that individual citizen voters are not casting their ballots directly for the candidate of their choice. Instead, they are voting to select electors committed to their candidate.

If you're confused about what the Electoral College is, let the folks at SchoolHouse Rock explain it to you...

The Electoral College was originally designed to empower the states and to guard against "mob rule." Many critics today are asking if it has outlived its time.

Historian H.W. Brands says that it has. Brands calls the Electoral College "anachronistic" and argues that it's time for it to go.

Political commentator and scholar Larry Sabato takes a more moderate tack. He says we should MEND the Electoral College and not end it.

What do YOU think?


Anonymous said...

A promising approach for reforming the Electoral College system, to make every vote equal, is the National Popular Vote bill being considered state-by-state. It would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and D.C.).

Under the Constitution, the states have exclusive and plenary (complete) power to allocate their electoral votes, and may change their state laws concerning the awarding of their electoral votes at any time. Under the bill, all of the states’ electoral votes in the interstate compact would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and D.C. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).

In less than two years, the National Popular Vote bill has been signed into law in the small and large states of Maryland, New Jersey, and Illinois—states possessing one-sixth of the electoral votes necessary to bring it into effect (46 of 270). The bill has passed one-sixth of the legislative chambers in the U.S.—one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, Vermont, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland.

The National Popular Vote bill would move presidential election attention and the value of individual voters beyond the few “swing states” by honoring a national popular vote for the president, to make every vote equal, in whatever state (be it historically blue, red or purple).

For more information, see www.NationalPopularVote.com

James Stripes said...

If we abolish the electoral college, a candidate for President will win without once crossing the Mississippi River to points west. The electoral college assures geographical diversity of interest, and at least some attention to Iowa, North Dakota, and Nevada. With election by popular vote, small rural states would lose the minimal influence they currently possess.

Madison, Jefferson, Adams, and crew may not have understood television, but they possessed far more wisdom than many folks today that would wreck a system that has given the world a remarkably stable political system that both bends to the will of the majority and protects the interests of the minority.