Critically asses the view that the Electoral College system ‘serves American democracy well ’
The Electoral College process is part of the original design of the U.S. constitution. The Electoral College was devised by the Founding Fathers to elect the president and vice president. In this essay I will asses whether the system is democratic. I shall do this by discussing its strengths, weaknesses and attempts to reform it.
The Electoral College system has been criticised many times since its establishment. It is seen to contain weaknesses for not fully serving American democracy. The main problem is that the system clearly has the potential to frustrate the electorate. Because of the aggregation of the electoral votes by state, it is possible that a candidate might win the most popular votes but lose in the Electoral College voting, this happened 3 times in the 19th century, but also in the presidential elections of 2000. Although Gore gained nearly half a million more votes than Bush he didn’t gain enough electoral votes to win. The winner-take-all system literally means that the candidate team that wins most of the plurality votes in a particular state gets all of the electoral votes in that state, and the loser gets none, even if the loss is marginal. For example, all 54 of California’s electoral votes go to the winner of that state election, even if the margin of victory is only 50.1% to 49.9%.
Another weakness in the system is the possibility of “faithless electors” who defect from the candidate to whom they are pledged. Twenty- six states have no requirement that electors vote in accordance with the popular vote. Nineteen states and D.C. mandate that they vote in accordance with the popular vote but, there’s no penalty if an elector fails to do so. Only 5 states have penalties for deviating from the popular vote, but the sanctions are very small. The main danger of faithless electors is that the candidate who wins the popular vote could wind up 1 or 2 votes short of a majority in the Electoral College and could lose the election on a technicality. This prospect becomes more probable when there are third- party or independent candidates who could negotiate with electors before they vote.
In the meantime at San Francisco State College, students in the Third World Liberation Front (TWL F), a coalition of African-American, Latino, and Asian-American student groups, began demanding reforms that addressed the concerns of students of color and the surrounding community. After more than a year of negotiating with the school and organizing students, they called a strike on November 6, ...
There is also the possibility that an election could be thrown into the House of Representatives which is undemocratic. In such a case each state has a single vote, which gives states with small populations such as Alaska equal weight with more populous states like Texas and Florida. Also, one vote per state in the House of Representatives may not necessarily result in a choice that replicates the electoral vote winner in that state in November.
There are however many strengths of the Electoral College system which serve American democracy well. The main argument in favour of retaining the present system is that there is too much uncertainty over whether any other method would be an improvement. Many of the weaknesses of the Electoral College apply just as well to the Senate and, in some ways the House of Representatives. The reform of the Electoral College system could lead to the dismantling of the federal system.
Another democratic strength of the Electoral College is that it fosters a two party system and prevents the rise of splinter parties such as those that plagued many European democracies. The winner-take-all system means that minor parties get few electoral votes and that a president who is the choice of the nation as a whole emerges. In the present system, splinter groups could not easily throw an election into the House.
The electors chosen by each state are called the Electoral College. This consists of 538 members, comprising 100 senators, 435 congressmen, and 3 members from the District of Columbia. States with large populations, like California have over 50 electoral votes, while sparsely populated states like Alaska has only 3 electoral votes. This system of government makes the electoral system highly ...
The Electoral College system does democratically reflect the population centres by giving urban areas electoral power that is where the most votes are. Hence, together, urban states come close to marshalling the requisite number of electoral votes to elect a president.
A very significant strength of the Electoral College is that for the most part it has worked. No election in this century has been decided in the House of the Representatives. Also, the winner’s margin of votes is usually enhanced in the electoral vote a mathematical happening that can make the winner in a divisive and close election seem to have won more popular support than he actually did. This is thought to aid the healing of election scars and help the new president in governing.
Discontent with the system was stimulated in the 1960’s by the Wallace third party movement and in 1980 by John Anderson’s initially strong showing as an independent candidate with nationwide appeal. A number of proposals for altering the way the president and vice president are elected have been made.
One set of proposals looks towards keeping the Electoral College but eliminating its winner-take-all features. This shift could be brought about by choosing most electors on a congressional district basis, with only two electors per state chosen state wide. A 1969 Maine Law provides for this method, and similar legislation has been considered in several other states. Alternatively, the office of elector could be eliminated and the electoral votes of a state simply assigned to candidates on the basis of the popular vote each receives. Constitutional amendments to that effect have been introduced in congress but none has passed. These changes might eliminate some distortion of the popular vote, but they would not answer the complaint that the people don’t elect the president directly.
... group of electors would decide on the President. Each state casts a number of electoral votes equal to the number of senators ... The Electoral College is a system that has been setup to elect the President of the United States. Over 200 years ago, a committee ... the candidate could lose the popular vote and still win the electoral vote. Three United States Presidents have already won based upon this ...
In conclusion the Electoral College system is very complicated and hard to understand ,but was seems to be clear is that some reform is needed because when the system was designed the Founding Fathers did not anticipate the emergence of national political parties or a communications network able to bring presidential candidates before the entire electorate. To a certain degree it is like writing letters when you can use the internet, writing letters works ,there is nothing wrong with it, but the internet , although it took a while to adjust is a step forward and works better.