Electoral College; Yes or No?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by sbk1234, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. sidious618

    sidious618 Admiral Admiral

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    Considering that we're currently electing the President of Ohio and not the President of the United States I think it's time we found a different way to do things. Popular vote would be the best bet, I think.
     
  2. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Sure there is: one person, one vote.



    ... Because you'd have the vote counted in equal manner?

    I'm truly baffled as to why you think you deserve more votes than that of a New Yorker does. If someone were to murder a South Dakotan rather than a New Yorker, should they serve a bigger sentence? If you and a New Yorker were getting Congressional Medals of Honor for exactly the same effort, should your medal be larger or shinier?
     
  3. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Well, the electoral college system also reduces the temptation to exploit and aggravate regional tensions, suspicions, stereotypes, and bigotry. In each region, once a candidate is up by 10 points or so, winning a slight majority of the local population, he can stop pushing their buttons and move on because he's already won all their electoral votes.

    If instead we went to a popular vote, and the candidate was trailing by ten in South Dakota, instead of finding positions that would appeal slightly to both New Yorkers and middle America, he could just go back to New York and give speeches about the simple-minded racist bumpkins in flyover country and how they're soooo much less sophisticated than people in Manhattan, trying to push himself to 80% in New York to swamp the votes he's losing in the Midwest. Meanwhile his opponent would be campaigning on how New York is run by evil Jews, Muslims, and Mafiosos and how the New York Yankees needs to be disbanded and the players jailed, trying to get to 90% in the Dakotas, Montana, and Idaho to make up for losses in the lower east side, the Bronx, and Queens.

    Under the electoral system, the path to victory is to win a slight majority in the majority of states instead of pitting geographic regions against one another, and then coming up with ever more efficient ways to bus voters in core cities to the polls in a turnout contest between New York and the deep South.

    The electoral system does make certain votes less important, but that's also a feature because it limits how low a politician will go to get that vote. For those in non-swing states who complain that they're not getting enough attention, remember that the lack of attention is because people in your state are already comfortable enough with one of the candidates positions to give him the nod, so he doesn't need to drive you into a frenzy with a bunch of divisive rhetoric about how other states are freeloading, lazy, nefarious schemers, etc.
     
  4. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As you may or may not be aware, some states themselves used to apportion legislators based on where people lived, rather than the number of people to be represented; the Supreme Court overturned that practive in 1964's Reynolds v. Sims. Wiki:
    The eight justices who struck down state senate inequality based their decision on the principle of "one person, one vote". In his majority decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren said "Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests."




    I assume you were being farcical, but the Constitution mandates that Congress ensure states have a "republican form of government", so that scenario is an impossible one.

    In any case, gturner, in regards to your post #23, thanks to the US Senate, it's the small-population states who boss the large-population ones around, a circumstance that would barely if at all change if the Electoral College were abolished, so it's pretty outlandish for those opposed to a popular vote for president to bemoan the potential victimazation of small-population states.
     
  5. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Which is what we have now. Except that we vote as states and not as US citizens at large. And apparently some people don't like that...


    New Yorkers and South Dakotans have different priorities, and seek different qualities in their candidates. Ignoring state lines will ignore the differences between states. You can't just homogenize the country and call it "fair".
     
  6. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Que? States don't have equal votes, or even proportionally equal votes, because each state gets one elector for each Senator, or +2, which affects some states more than others, based on their population again. It isn't a "one person, one vote" system in any sense.

    Not to mention: state's aren't people.

    Completely wrong statement is completely wrong.
     
  7. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    ^ So you'd also argue that we should abolish the US Senate and have the UN vote by population, so India and China will make all the decisions for the rest of the world?
     
  8. Squiggy

    Squiggy FrozenToad Premium Member

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    And just how in the holy hell are South Dakota's issues being addressed in the electoral college now?

    Much time has either campaign spent in your state?
     
  9. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    OK, maybe I'm not organizing and expressing my thoughts well.

    Let's say the Electoral College is abolished, and the US Presidency is elected by popular vote. Where do the candidates go for votes? Wouldn't they end up in the largest population centers - LA, NYC, Chicago, etc. The voters in those cities are paid the most attention, and their issues are the ones that get addressed. South Dakota is fly-over country, not worth stopping in because any one suburb of those largest cities will be larger than any of the villages of South Dakota.

    Whereas now, while South Dakota has only three electoral votes, those are three votes that can be meaningful. I admit that even now South Dakota isn't paid much attention, and is strongly Republican anyway, so neither candidate has much incentive to campaign here. Still, without the Electoral College representing us, what kind of attention would we get?

    See, the problem is that the larger, more populous states resent the smaller states for having as much say as they do. Why? Are the issues and concerns of the South Dakota populace not worthy of attention? The smaller states are afraid of being ignored entirely, which they would be in a popular vote, instead of being only mostly ignored, as they are now.

    Swing states are the ones that have both population to make the electoral votes worth earning, and the demographics to make either party capable of winning there, so they get all the attention. South Dakota is neither, but we're still in a better position than we would be without the Electoral College.
     
  10. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    If we are in fact voting "by state," would it be better or worse to change the Electoral College to make each state only have a single vote?

    Are the issues of a more populated state more important than the issues of a less populated state?
     
  11. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    For a politician running for office, by definition the problems of a more populous state are more important.
     
  12. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    Right, but what if they weren't? If each state was only afforded a single electoral vote, the politicians would be forced to make an effort in places they may otherwise avoid.
     
  13. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    The smaller states wanted one vote per state, the larger states wanted to vote by population. So they compromised.

    One great result of this compromise is that it greatly reduces the national effects of varying voter participation rates in different states, due to differing election laws, traditions, habits, and of course fraud. Right now election laws in the 49 states where you don't reside are of little concern to you, compared to the concerns of voters in those states. There's no incentive for corrupt state officials to generate votes past the 50% they need to win their state.

    In contrast, if the four largest states (with a third of the US population) got in a voter fraud or turnout war, their shenanigans with the half of their population that currently doesn't turn out could produce a 16 point shift. Just beating the bushes to increase their turnout by 10% would produce more votes than are in the smallest 11 states combined. And of course this would also apply in reverse, with votes in sparse, hard-to-supervise rural areas falling like rain, mysteriously exceeding their official populations by wide margins, and investigations would be about as productive as sending a Texas preacher to Chicago or Philly to try and uncover the abuses, or sending a Boston Kennedy to Montana to try and get a survivalist rancher to spill the beans on why his cows all voted Republican.
     
  14. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Certainly, I'd abolish the Senate. The UN, I'm not sure; I'd have to look into it more deeply, but to say that the General Assembly "makes all the world's decisions" is, uh, not remotely close to true. :rolleyes:

    I'll throw the question back to you, though: was the aforementioned Supreme Court decision wrong? Should a backwoods New York state voter be counted more heavily than a Bronxer?



    Short answer: everywhere.

    Longer answer: we've got these things called a media and an Internet. You don't need to physically see and hear a candidate speak to form an reasoned opinion. (I've got one, and I've never seen a current major-party candidate in my home state.) If every American's vote was counted equally, neighbors would get involved with canvassing neighbors across the country, not just in the swing states. And this'd be reflected in polls, and candidates would be influenced by those polls. Since South Dakota is a safe red state, a popular vote would increase your individual votes' importance.



    Word to the wise: a candidate appearing in a large city like LA or NYC doesn't mean that he necessarily sees any more people than he would in South Dakota. City visits come with their own challenges, namely space, security, and crowding logistics. Look at the places candidates visit in actual contested states - most of those areas are suburbs.



    Uh, maybe two Senators, the same as California and Texas, and infinitely more than DC?! Live in one of those states/DC for a while, then cry me a river!

    As I said above, small-population states boss the large-population ones around perpetually, even though the latter group holds the vast majority of Americans, and produces the vast majority of the country's wealth.


    You are, but mainly because, as I said above, the layout of states gives Electoral College bias in favor of the right-wing politics South Dakota holds so dear. Vermont, on the other hand, as a safe far-left state, gets utterly and totally screwed over by the system.



    You're expressing yourself just fine. You think that you deserve more votes than other citizens do, merely because you live on one side of an imaginary line within the United States. You think unequal votes are fair.
     
  15. Squiggy

    Squiggy FrozenToad Premium Member

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    As I mentioned up thread....the top 100 cities in the country only account for 20% of the population.

    Yeah. You live in a place with a tiny population. There's no form of government that would place more import on Pierre over New York or Atlanta.
     
  16. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    Sure it is: it's called Pierrecracy.
     
  17. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Or, in the case of 18th-century Versailles, hereditary dictatorship. :p
     
  18. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Squiggy's video very nicely lays out why the EC is broken and how it makes votes unequal. I really recommend everyone watch it to get an idea of how the EC works, why it doesn't and the problems it has.

    You could probably very much argue that a popular vote would get MORE people to vote.

    I live in Kansas. Kansas is almost always going to go Republican barring some apocalyptic event. So what's my incentive to go out and vote for Obama? Because in the end it won't matter. Now, sure, it theoretically could matter because theoretically if more people vote for Obama than Romney Kansas' electoral votes will go to Obama, but right now it's too ingrained that Kansas will go red. It's too ingrained California will go Blue, it's too ingrained pretty much the entire Northeast will go Blue and so on. So what's the incentive for the candidates to campaign there and for opposing party to vote?

    If it was a straight popular vote more people may feel like "their vote matters" and go out and vote.

    Squiggy's video also outlines a scenario where a candidate can win the presidency while only getting minor percentage of the popular vote. It's a scenario not likely to ever happen but the fact that it's possible should show the flaw in the system.
     
  19. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Do you resent the fact that South Dakota had the same number of Senators as Texas? Why shouldn't we have equal representation? We're equally sovereign.

    It's not as if any of the stances taken here are original. The delegates at the Constitutional Convention had all the same arguments. Big states don't like little states; little states don't like big states. There's no way to make the system seem fair to everyone. We ended up with a compromise, and we're all still complaining about it. As I said in my first post here, I've gone back and forth on the issue. I've lived in both large and small states. I've seen the system from both sides.

    In South Dakota, a Democrat's vote doesn't count for much, since it's drowned in a sea of Republican red. But a Republican's vote here doesn't count for much, either, because one more Republican vote isn't meaningful. So, why bother voting at all? Even if the Electoral College was abolished tomorrow, my one little vote won't matter in the South Dakota results or the national results. Would a popular vote give me more incentive to vote?

    I think the EC could use some major reforms. For one thing, the EC votes keep getting redistributed in a way that seems to reflect the population anyway, so why keep it as a rubber stamp? Won't eventually all the votes go mostly to New York and California, with the rest of the states reduced to their legally required minimum of three?
     
  20. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Quite probably. The purpose of the Senate, despite what the Supreme Court said, is to represent states, not people directly (which is why they used to be appointed instead of directly elected), and at the state level, to represent areas of the state with different interests. The reason for the Supreme Court ruling was that some states had districts with over a hundred to one difference in populations, which was too extreme to support.


    And which of the elected politicians would feel beholden to you, and express concern for you? None of them. Not a single one. Parts of Europe have that problem, with no direct accountability between a voter and a politician, because the politicians are chosen by slates.
     

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