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Obsoleting the Electoral College

During the 2000 election of the United States of America, the Electoral College elected a president and vice-president that did not receive the most votes by the American people for the fourth time in history!

Despite what most Americans believe, they do not directly vote for their president and vice-president, but instead Americans vote for who they wish their state (via an electoral official from the Electoral College) to vote for the presidency. Each state has a weighed electoral vote that is indirectly based on their census (estimated total population). This method has two main problems.

The first problem with the Electoral College is that the electoral officials only "pledge" that they will vote for the candidate that the state's majority has voted for. A "faithless elector" is a person who casts the state's electoral vote for no one or someone who the majority of the state's voters did not vote for. As of 2006, there have been 158 faithless electors. In all fairness, 71 of those votes were because the candidate they were suppose to cast their vote for passed away before the election of the Electoral College. In only 24 states, there are laws against electoral officials not voting for the candidate that they pledged to vote for, but they have never been enforced. Whatever the reasons that faithless electors have for not voting for who they pledged to vote for, this reason alone is sufficient to obsolete the Electoral College.

The second problem with the Electoral College is that it unequally weighs votes. Let's take a look at a hypothetical worse case scenario. Let's assume there are two candidates in three states of equal populations and that Candidate A received 55% percent of the people's voted in State #1, 65% in State #2, and 15% in State #3. Maybe this table would help illustrate.

  Candidate A Candidate B
State #1 54% 46%
State #2 51% 49%
State #3 15% 85%
Electoral Count 2 1
Average Vote 40% 60%
Figure #1

Using the Electoral College, Candidate A would be the winner, since more states voted for Candidate A. If the popular vote (total number of votes independent of states) is used, then Candidate B would be the winner, because more people voted for Candidate B.

Furthermore, this problem is even greater if states have an unequal number of voters. For example:

  Candidate A Candidate B State's Population Electoral Votes
State #1 54% 46% 3 million 3
State #2 51% 49% 3 million 3
State #3 15% 85% 4 million 4
Electoral Total 6 (3+3) 4   10 (3+3+4)
Total Votes 3,750,000 6,250,000    
Figure #2

Again, the Electoral College would select Candidate A when Candidate B had more popular votes because of more state electoral votes. Obviously, the Electoral College is biased, because it selects a single winner per state, and ignores the total popular vote of the people.

At this point, you are probably asking yourself why the Electoral College was used in the first place. Maybe the founding fathers of America knew something that we do not know. I even had difficulties finding a historical answer to this mystery. As always, Wikipedia came to the rescue! At first, the founding fathers debated several methods of electing the president, such as having Congress vote, or the State Legislatures vote, or a popular vote. As to why they finally chose the Electoral College system, Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers wrote: "A small number of persons, selected by their fellow citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations."

This reasoning was logical over two hundreds years ago when the general population was poorly educated and informed about presidential candidates. However in today's information age and with seemingly infinite media outlets (television, newspapers, Internet, radio, etc.), Americans are now well enough informed and educated to directly decide who should be the President of the United States of America.

The Electoral College has failed the American people four times in the past with the most recent in the 2000 elections. There is nothing to prevent it from happening again and again. This is not how a true democratic republic such as the United States of America should be.

I can only ask for all of us to please contact our state and national officials to demand making the United States of America a true democracy. Here are some links that can help us: White House, Congress, and House of Representatives.

by Phil for Humanity
on 09/04/2006

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