Arguments For and Against Electoral College System
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: Politics|
|✅ Wordcount: 1803 words||✅ Published: 26th Jul 2021|
Electoral College: Is It Right for America?
Most Americans who cast a ballot to elect the president and vice president of the United States believe they are voting directly for their candidate. The reality is that the Electoral College elects both the president and in turn the vice president under Article II, Section 1, of the US Constitution. The framers of the Constitution did not want the president and vice president to be elected by the “excitable mass” (Bardes 253).
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At the time of the presidential election there are two election processes in motion. First, there is the nation-wide popular vote. This vote consists of all vote’s casts by eligible votes in all fifty states including the District of Columbia. The candidate with the most votes wins the popular vote, but the person with most popular votes may not win the election. Secondly, there is an election held by the Electoral College (EC). The EC is not an educational institution as one might think but consists of 538 electors from each state and the District of Columbia. Each state’s numbers of electors equal the states members in the House of Representatives and the two Senators from each state. Also included in the Electoral College are three electors from the District of Columbia which are equal to the least populist state which is Alaska (Bardes -253). To win the presidential election a candidate must secure a majority of the 538 votes, in this case 270. A major debate in America today revolves around the EC and at the center is whether the Electoral College system is democratic and fair. Proponents of the Electoral College say it should be kept in place, the opposing view is to do away with it and another’s wanting to see it modified.
Tara Ross, a lawyer, writer and author of Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College,states: The Electoral College System Is a Brilliant Constitutional Device. (Ross- 117). She goes on to write America’s founding fathers believe pure democracies could allow inflamed majorities and mobs to rule, so they created constitutional devices to temper the momentary passions of the public and protect minority interests and small states. The electoral college is one of these devices, and it continues to serve a critical role in American democracy.(Ross – 3).
According to Mary Frances Greene who is with the US National Archives and a EC supporter writes: Proponents of the Electoral College claim that critics exaggerate the risks in our present system, pointing to the very few small numbers of occasions where their concerns have come to fruition (Greene – 181). Due to a tie in the Electoral College there has only been two times when the US House of Representatives has had to vote on who was going to be president and none since 1825. A contention of supporters of the EC claim that it reduces voter fraud. Another argument is that the EC system protects smaller states that may be under-represented and ignored by presidential candidates. These EC advocates also contend that the winners in presidential elections are quickly indemnified and avoid the long process of recounts.
Some Electoral College advocates believe that the EC is misunderstood and that many citizens do not have a full understanding of the system. In his article “A Republic, not a Democracy: A Defense of the Electoral College” John Hendrickson, research analyst with the Public Interest Institute at Iowa Wesleyan College writes : The Electoral College is one of the most misunderstood aspects of American government., and historically it has come under fire for being “un-democratic”. The first argument in favor of the Electoral College is that it works, but more importantly, it is a vital part of our constitutional structure. The Electoral College brings “stability and certainty” in presidential elections.(Hendrickson – 26, 28, 30) Hendrickson goes on to say: “The Electoral College, just as the United States Senate, provides protection and representation”(Hendrickson – 30).
Within the realm of persons opposed to the Electoral College there is Richard Lempert who is the Eric Stein Distinguished University Professor of Law and Sociology Emeritus at the University of Michigan. According to Lempert “If democracy means the majority rules, the Electoral College is an undemocratic institution” (.Lempert – 18). In the last five presidential elections the highest office in the land went to the loser of the popular vote, in 2000 George W. Bush and most recently Donald J. Trump lost the popular vote to Hilary Clinton. The lost was by over two million votes. Critics of the EC claim that over two million voters were disenfranchised from the voting process.
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The arena of anti–Electoral College advocates is not limited to academics it also reaches into legislators. The Honorable Barbara Boxer, United States Senator from California has taken a stand on the EC. According to this quote: “This is an outdated system (EC) that does not reflect democracy, and it violates the principle of one person, one vote”(Boxer – 19). In modern day elections candidates save their time, energy and money for the states that have the largest member of electors and spend most of their time in those states campaigning. This leaves the smaller state voters feeling as though their votes are not important and some say this may be the reason for lower voter turnout.
Although there is major disagreement between scholars, politicians, and ordinary citizens whether the Electoral College is good or bad for America, there is another group that believes in a common ground approach. In an article by Paul E. Godek, Senior Vice President of Economists Incorporated Godek explains the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (VPVIC). The NPVIC is a group of states and the District of Columbia. “The NPVIC is an agreement, among the states that join, to award all of their electoral votes to the presidential candidate with the highest share of the national popular vote. The agreement goes into effect if enough states join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to account for 270 electoral votes, the number needed to win the election” (Godek-6). According to Mathew J. Franck, professor and chairman of the Political Science Department at Radford University the NPVIC is not workable. The National Popular Vote plan is a bad idea because the electoral college, with the winner-take-all rule is perfectly democratic in a federal system and has the advantage of confining recount contests within the bounds of states. And even under a popular vote plan, candidates would continue to devote resources to areas where they have the most impact (Franck-content page, 180)
According to Nicholas R. Miller, Department of Political Science, University of Maryland Baltimore County writes: The framers of the Constitution expected- and certainly hoped that politics at the national level would be nonpartisan in nature. Accordingly, their presidential selection system was designed to choose a single broadly supported winner out of a potentially large field of candidates concerning whom voter preferences were likely to be widely dispersed.(Miller-1-2). Although this may have been the hope of the framers of the constitution the debate continues to this day, with wanting to maintain the Electoral College, many wanting to abolish it, and some wanting a compromise which would incorporate both the popular vote with the electoral college system.
- Anderson, John B. "The Electoral College Flunks the Test in an Age of Democracy." The Pros of the Electoral College, pp. 1-4. JSTOR, hh://www.jstor.org/stable/27880476. Accessed 11 Feb. 2020. Originally published in American Bar Association.
- ---. "The Electoral College Flunks the Test in an Age of Democracy." The Pros of the Electoral College, pp. 1-4. JSTOR, hh://www.jstor.org/stable/27880476. Accessed 11 Feb. 2020. Originally published in American Bar Association.
- Bardes, Barbara A. "We Elect the President by Popular Vote?" American Government and Politics Today, by Barbara A. Bardes et al., 2017-2018 ed., Boston, Cengage Learninh, 2018, p. 253.
- ---. "We Elect the President by Popular Vote?" American Government and Politics Today, by Barbara A. Bardes et al., 2017-2018 ed., Boston, Cengage Learninh, 2018, p. 253.
- Boxer, Barbara, and Richard Lempert. "Is the Electoral College System Still the Best Mechanism for Electing U.S. Presidents?" Congressional Digest, Jan. 2017, pp. 19,21,23,18,20,22+. Pro & Con Online, www.CongressionalDigest.com. Accessed 11 Feb. 2020.
- ---. "Is the Electoral College System Still the Best Mechanism for Electing U.S. Presidents?" Congressional Digest, Jan. 2017, pp. 19,21,23,18,20,22+. Pro & Con Online, www.CongressionalDigest.com. Accessed 11 Feb. 2020.
- Franck, Mathew J. "The National Popular Vote Plan Is a Bad Idea." 2008. Federal Elections, edited by Debra A. Miller, Detroit, Greenhaven Press, 2010, p. 3, 180. Current Controversies.
- ---. "The National Popular Vote Plan Is a Bad Idea." 2008. Federal Elections, edited by Debra A. Miller, Detroit, Greenhaven Press, 2010, p. 3, 180. Current Controversies.
- Godek, Paul E. "The Ever-Popular Electoral College." Regulations, vol. 42, no. 2, Spring-Summer 2019, pp. 5-6. ehost. Accessed 11 Feb. 2020.
- ---. "The Ever-Popular Electoral College." Regulations, vol. 42, no. 2, Spring-Summer 2019, pp. 5-6. ehost. Accessed 11 Feb. 2020.
- Greene, Mary Frances. "The Electoral College Is Effective." The Presidential Election Process: Opposing Viewpoint, edited by Tom Lansford, Detroit, Greenhaven, 2008, p. 181. Opposing Viewpoints Series.
- ---. "The Electoral College Is Effective." The Presidential Election Process: Opposing Viewpoint, edited by Tom Lansford, Detroit, Greenhaven, 2008, p. 181. Opposing Viewpoints Series.
- Hendrickson, John. "Public Interest (PII)." Pro & Con Online, Jan. 2017, www.CongressionalDigest. Accessed Jan. 2017.
- ---. "Public Interest (PII)." Pro & Con Online, Jan. 2017, www.CongressionalDigest. Accessed Jan. 2017.
- Ross, Tara. Federal Elections. Edited by Debra A. Miller, Detroit, Greenhaven Press, 2010. Current Contoversies.
- ---. Federal Elections. Edited by Debra A. Miller, Detroit, Greenhaven Press, 2010. Current Contoversies.
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