However, in recent times this System has come under scrutiny and there are now many arguments that suggest the Electoral College (CE) should be scrapped and replaced by a national popular vote. One of the biggest problems with the Electoral College is that under the system you don’t need a majority of the national popular vote to win the election; in fact there have been cases, such as the 2000 election where the winner of the election did not even win the popular vote. In the 2000 election, George W. Bush faced off against AY Gore- the incumbent Vice-President.
Throughout the election aiming the polls were coming up close- and the result was that indeed. Gore got 48. 4% of the popular vote (50,999,897), whereas Bush lost on the popular vote as he only received 47. 9% (50,456,002). However, Bush won in the Electoral College and therefore won the election. Bush received 271 CE votes compared to Gore’s 267. This result had even more controversy surrounding it as it all came down to the swing state Florida, there were a number of votes which had a ‘hanging Chad’ and were deemed by the Supreme Court to be ruled out as counted votes.
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This ruling meant that Bush on Florida, and the election. Since then there has been much call for change to the electoral system as Bush was able to become president without actually winning the national popular vote. This means that there were more people in the country that wanted Gore to be president than Bush and therefore Bush’s whole first term lacked legitimacy. We can also see this in a number of other elections where a president has not had even a simple majority but still took the presidency.
In 1992 Bill Clinton only received 43% of the popular vote, and with voter turnout at only 55%, this meant that he won he presidency with not even 25% of the countries approval, which makes it very illegitimate. The US constitution is what the whole federal government is built upon, and the concept of the Electoral College is something that is a huge part of that. The idea of the Electoral College is that it allows the system to be democratic, while at the same time it Stops mob rule and giving all the power to the majority.
It is a key part of the US constitution and it is something that makes it unique! The Electoral College is discussed several times in the constitution- Article 2, Section 1 and the 1 12th amendment. Through this, we can see that it is a huge part of the entire system and the presidential process, and therefore there is a big argument in favor of keeping it. There is a sense that by removing the Electoral College vote then you would be drastically altering the constitution, something that the US is very UN-keen on doing.
Under the winner takes all method applied in 48 of the 50 seats, it becomes easier to win the Electoral College votes for that state. This is because you only need to beat the person in second place and this can mean that you only end up winning by a very small margin. You could in a state like California- a state with a population more than 30 million by a few hundred votes; you would win all of the Electoral College votes. An example of this would be in the 2012 where Obama won the state of Florida by getting 49. 9% of the vote, however this was only 0. 88% more than Rooney got.
Rooney received over 49% of the popular vote, equally over 4 million votes, and lost by less than 1%, however, due to the winner takes all system in place, Obama received all 29 Electoral College votes. This means that you don’t need a majority in the popular vote to actually win in the Electoral College. The distortion of the popular vote to the Electoral College vote causes many issues as it gives an unfair exaggeration of power to the winner. Another example of this would be Ronald Reagan in 1 984, while he did receive a popular vote majority in 84, by getting almost 59%, this majority was greatly exaggerated.
Reagan won 49 of the 50 states and 525 CE votes; this is over 97% of CE votes, creating a distortion of nearly 40%. Through these exaggerated majorities we see the winner of the election getting an artificially created, strong mandate to rule. This once again helps form the argument hat it should be replaced as it IS highlighting an unfair system which showcases massive majorities which aren’t even there. In the US they have a federal system which puts a lot Of emphasis on separation of powers.
Due to the separation of powers that is in the IIS system, the executive branch does not cross over with the legislative. This means that the president and congress are elected individually. Because of this, Senators and members of the House will feel that they have their own mandate as they are individually elected. No matter how strong a presidents mandate is, it does not affect the selective in terms of what they can do and therefore Congressmen won’t feel under any obligation to agree with the president if they don’t agree with what he is saying.
Whereas in the British system the legislative and the executive overlap, due to the prime minister being in parliament, and therefore the house of commons feel a duty to side with him, this won’t happen in the US as Congressman have more individual power and a stronger mandate, meaning the president’s mandate, really isn’t that strong. Another positive of the exaggerated majorities created under the CE is that it will always produce clear and final result, as well as always producing a strong single party government.
Under the Electoral College system, there must always be a winner, meaning that you will always get a decisive result, with a strong single party government. This means that a president can be more decisive as he can focus on what he wants to do and not have to worry about someone else sharing his power. One glaring problem that the Electoral College has is ‘faithless electors’. A faithless elector is a member of the United States Electoral College who, for whatever reason, does not vote for the presidential r vice presidential candidate for whom he or she had pledged to vote.
They may vote for another candidate or not vote at all. The electors are under no constitutional obligation to vote for the candidate who wins the popular vote in a state, they have the freedom to choose to vote for whoever they want. While in 29 states you are legally not allowed to do this, in the 21 others, is your right to choose, and this could have serious repercussions on an election. There has been a long list of faithless electors dating back to 1796. Most recent was in 2000 when Washington, D. C.
Elector Barbara Let- Simmons, pledged for Democrats AY Gore and Joe Lieberman, cast no electoral votes as a protest of Washington D. C. ‘s lack of representation in Congress. These faithless electors have the power to drastically alter the outcome of an election, for example if in 2000 Bush had had two faithless electors, then the electoral college vote would have been tied, and he would have lost the election. A faithless elector is extremely undemocratic as electors arena actually elected by the people and therefore shouldn’t be to go against the opinion of the popular vote.
Having faithless electors is a big part of the reason many think the CE is undemocratic and should be replaced by a fairer system, being the national popular vote. While faithless electors are very undemocratic and have the potential to have far too much power for an unelected body; do they really have that much influence? No, no they do not. A faithless elector has never directly affected the result of an election; they have never changed the outcome and probably never will. A faithless elector is the exception rather than the rule.
It happens once every 3 or 4 elections ND these electors really do not alter the outcome. Also, there are now becoming stricter rules against faithless electors in 29 states. They can now be penalized for voting against whom they pledged for and this will in turn limit faithless electors even more and make them even more irrelevant to the result of an election. As with most plurality voting systems, the first past the post system used to vote for the president in the US massively limits third parties and these parties are usually penalized when it comes down to the polls.
Due to the fact that in 48 states the Electoral College votes are won in a inner takes all system, and this makes it very hard for third parties to make anyway leeway in terms of getting CE votes as they would have to be the most popular candidate in a state and get more votes than both the Republican and the Democrat candidate. The biggest example Of this happening to a third party is in 1992, when Ross Pert ran as an independent candidate. Pert campaigned to balance the federal budget and stop gun control, through this; he won a massive 19% of the popular vote.
However, Pert suffered the finalization that most third parties feel under PPTP as he achieved O Electoral College votes and therefore in the end had very little say in the election result. Events like this effect third parties even more as it stops people voting for them as they believe their vote would be wasted as third parties cannot make a true impact. The Electoral College system means that third parties are never going to be able to prosper in the US political system, which is extremely unfair as nearly a fifth of voters have voted for them in the past.
This is a big reason why people think a change is needed, as they feel it loud become a fairer system to help third parties if the IIS changed to a national popular vote. The CE means that third parties become heavily penalized and are unable to make any real impact in a presidential election, even though in the past they have received almost 1/5 of the vote. But, if the CE was to be replaced by a national popular vote, then it would mean that third parties could flourish on a national stage, however, while it would be fairer, it might actually hinder the running of the country in a serious way.
Firstly, it would allow extremist parties, with strong ideological views to gain a erroneous amount of power. For example, Ross Pert was extremely right wing, and his views could be seen as quite extreme, if the system was different, he could have got into power and put these extreme views on the country. Another damaging affect it could have would be over exaggerating the third party vote. If a president was elected by the national popular vote then it could mean that a candidate could win with only 20 or 25% of the vote, and this would mean their government lacked a lot of legitimacy.
A big reason that the Electoral College was introduced was so that the small states would eel like they had a say, so that the campaign trail would have to go to every region of the country to secure votes everywhere and not just concentrate on areas with a high population to gain a large national popular vote. However, by giving small farming states with very low populations at least 3 Electoral College votes, they may have given them too much influence and these small states are now in fact over represented.
Wyoming, a small rural state with a population less than 450,000, this state has 3 Electoral College votes, and that means that every 1 CE vote is equal to 130,000 people. When you compare his to states like California, New York, Texas and Florida who have the most Electoral College votes, however, 1 CE vote is equal to around 500,000 people. This means that these small, normally conservative states have the most impact in an election; despite the fact the states are sparsely populated. Due to this, these states are over represented and have far too much political influence. This once again highlights the injustice caused by the CE.
If the CE was to be replaced by a national popular vote, then these over represented small States could see a huge swing in the political power they have, in fact hey could become almost completely ineffective. If a national popular vote was put in place to determine the president, then it would mean that candidates could potentially only campaign in vastly populated states or in places that their party is strong- for example the North East for the Democrats and The South for the Republicans, as these would be the places where candidates could gain the most and be able to therefore win the election.
It could also lead them to only go into major media markets, such as National news channels like CNN or BBC, instead of putting campaign videos n small regional news channels, like they currently do. While the CE may over represent these states, over representation is better than no representation, as the electorate in these states deserve to be made to feel like their vote is important- and this is what the CE does, therefore meaning it shouldn’t be replaced.
One big positive of changing the CE to a national popular vote would be that it would make the system a lot more democratic. A national popular vote would be a form of direct democracy the electorate haven’t had when it comes to electing a president. The current system is a Oromo of indirect democracy as the CE eventually determines the president, changing it to a national popular vote would give the people more power and make the system more democratic, as well as making a government more legitimate.
This could also lead to voter turnout increasing as if people feel they have a direct affect on the presidency then they are more likely to vote. In conclusion, I think that the arguments for both sides are strong. The suggestion that the CE should be replaced by a national popular vote is one that has a lot of credibility to it. By doing so it would all round make the yester a lot fairer as we would see the over exaggerated majorities created by the CE disappear, and the undemocratic process of faithless electors would be a thing of the past.