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Electoral College

Politics-American Electoral College

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#41 Anna

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 09:12 AM

Una Salus Lillius, on Jul 30 2003, 03:58 PM, said:

Why shouldn't the electoral votes be divied up in proportion to how the population voted?
I may be misremembering, but isn't there a state that does such a thing? I seem to recall a state doing that in the 2000 election.

Of course, I've slept a lot since then and it's entirely possible I dreamed it in the late night I spent in November 2000. :suspect:

However, this is a concept I can get behind, too.

Anna
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#42 Delvo

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 09:12 AM

Javert Rovinski, on Jul 30 2003, 03:58 PM, said:

Actually, the 'quote' and 'edit' buttons are simply right next to each other.
Ya, but what I mean is that he hit the same button I would have hit if I were editing myself. THAT button shouldn't be the one that gives moderators such access, precisely because of this kind of thing. If anyone other than the original poster hits that button, they should all get the "Hey, you're not that person! Imposter!" screen, just like non-moderators do. Go ahead and give moderators the same ability to edit stuff anyway, but just make them use some other route that doens't allow such a mistake; a back door.

All better now anyway.

#43 QuiGon John

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 09:56 AM

^ Thanks for reposting, Delvo, and I do apologize for the error.  I'll have to be much more careful about that in the future.

#44 QueenTiye

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 10:08 AM

Oh Boo!  I missed all the excitement!  And I'm still sitting here waiting to here Delvo's fix! LOL!

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#45 Laoise

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 10:11 AM

When I first heard the purpose of the Electoral College, I was very surprised.  I figured with the image of equality that the States tries to project, that each person's vote would at least count as equal, and not have some people counting for more or less based on where they live.  It just didn't jive with my mental image of equality in the US.

Of course, that assumes I've understood the purpose correctly.  The Electoral College is more or less to make sure that the way more densely populated areas vote don't have as large an effect as they could, eh?

If I'm right, then I don't think it's a very good idea.  But it's not like it really effects my voting anyway ;)
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#46 Rov Judicata

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 10:15 AM

Laoise, on Jul 30 2003, 04:01 PM, said:

When I first heard the purpose of the Electoral College, I was very surprised.  I figured with the image of equality that the States tries to project, that each person's vote would at least count as equal, and not have some people counting for more or less based on where they live.  It just didn't jive with my mental image of equality in the US.

Of course, that assumes I've understood the purpose correctly.  The Electoral College is more or less to make sure that the way more densely populated areas vote don't have as large an effect as they could, eh?

If I'm right, then I don't think it's a very good idea.  But it's not like it really effects my voting anyway ;)
Oh, I see what you're saying Delvo. You're right.

Lao-- No, the electoral college was originally formed in large part because the founders didn't trust the common man to select a president. In theory, we'd pick somebody we trust, and then all those 'electors' would debate amongst themselves and *they* would choose a president.

However, the founders thought this would rarely happen, and it would be left to the house (I think it's the house... may be the senate) to select the president almost every time.

Obviously, the meaning of the electoral college *now* is FAR different from the intent. Remember this next time somebody starts discussing the 'intent' of the founders like it's unquestionable dogma... :ninja:
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Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
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~~ Josh, winning the argument.

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#47 Laoise

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 10:22 AM

^ Okay, thanks.  I was just getting a different impression from what I was reading in the thread.  Nevermind me then *goes off into a dark corner* :)
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#48 Rov Judicata

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 10:24 AM

^

No need for a dark corner. You're quite right about the purpose it serves *today*. It's just not the purpose intended. Which is rather hysterical, when you think about it.
St. Louis must be destroyed!

Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
Josh: "I don't have a job, I have ONE credit card, I'm stuck in a lease and I'm 28! My mom's basement IS ONE BAD DECISION AWAY!"
~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. § 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#49 Laoise

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 10:46 AM

^ I like my dark corners, though.  The tumbleweeds live there ;)  I'll come out if I think of another question to ask though.  Living upstairs from you guys, I am pretty effected by who gets to be president, important stuff to know.
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#50 Uncle Sid

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 12:28 PM

Not to sound too depressing, perhaps, but honestly, Delvo is completely correct, and you know he's completely correct.  

If you are going to choose someone who is the best person for something, don't you have to know something about the subject for you to make the best choice?  The problem is, being president in this day and age puts you in front of an army of dozens of departments, bureaus and commissions, not to mention having to make intelligent decisions on whether to oppose legislation or not.  There is simply no voter in the United States who is competant to weigh the pros and cons of a candidate and determine if they are the right person for the job.  

For instance, I seriously disliked Bill Clinton's character and his stand on a number of issues.  For that reason, I wouldn't have voted for him.  However, I'll be the first person to tell you that he's a smart guy.  So what do I have to go on?  Well for me, it's simple.  He's pro-choice and and generally on the affirmative action bandwagon, so it's a no brainer that I'd vote against him.  But, what if that wasn't such an easy decision?  What if I'm one of those people who doesn't feel strongly enough to vote on one or two issues?  How would I decide?

The answer is that I *couldn't* decide intelligently without resorting to someone else telling me what I'm voting for.  If I wanted an environmental president, I'd be listening to the Sierra Club, if I wanted social Christain conservatism, I might listen to the Moral Majority groups out there.  But in no way, shape or form would I be able to do more than listen to hearsay being presented to me.  I haven't got the time or the knowledge to make truly independent and intelligent decisions even on who to hire for taking care of the details.  I'm in the position of the newly popular rock and roll group who hires a financial manager.  Sometimes you get really unlucky and get a guy who steals all of your money while you sit obliviously by and just make music.  You're forced to deal with this, though, because being a musician does not grant you the ability to manage money.  You have to listen to the advice of those who know what they are doing.

This is also a reason that I believe that the government needs to stay out of certain businesses like health care or whatever, except for a regulatory role.  The more we pile on government, the less and less qualified any one person becomes to vote for a president or even a legislator.  And as we become less qualified to intelligently select presidents, then the presidents that we select become similarly less qualified while our expectations keep rising.  At this moment, the only reason that we do get reasonably qualified leaders is because special interest groups tell us who to elect, and that's not quite democracy, is it?  

A democratic, one-person,  one-vote, therefore, is not the best way of doing business outside of small localities where you can have a reasonable grasp of the issues involved.  Does that mean I'm against democracy?  No.  Democracy is a great way of obtaining widespread public support for the government and in turn insuring high levels of peace and committment to stable institutions.  However, it's not a panacea, and it's not the religion that many people make it out to be.  People say, "We need to bring democracy to Iraq, Serbia, or, whatever.  While their heart is in the right place, they are completely wrong.  What countries in turmoil need is to have stability, law and order, and a generally benevolent authority brought to power.  If that power is an oligarchy, an autocratic ruler or a democracy, it doesn't really matter to me, as long as it remains benevolent and stable.  Democracy is simply a form of government, NOT the be all and end all of goverments.  It's a good selection, but it's one that requires a lot of infrastructure to maintain on a national level, and even in advanced, stable countries, it has its problems.  

The electoral college?  It is a relic and superfluous, but that's because it has never been used the way it was intended to be.  The idea was to elect people who knew the state and who were generally regarded as wise and intelligent people.  Those people would then select the President, no matter what the population would have voted popularly.  It may sound undemocratic to you, but at least you get a chance to vote for the electors, unlike the special interest groups that are currently filling the same role today.

Edited by Uncle Sid, 31 July 2003 - 12:33 PM.

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#51 QueenTiye

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 01:12 PM

Uncle Sid, on Jul 30 2003, 09:18 PM, said:

The electoral college?  It is a relic and superfluous, but that's because it has never been used the way it was intended to be.  The idea was to elect people who knew the state and who were generally regarded as wise and intelligent people.  Those people would then select the President, no matter what the population would have voted popularly.  It may sound undemocratic to you, but at least you get a chance to vote for the electors, unlike the special interest groups that are currently filling the same role today.
You know what?  I'd SUPPORT that effort - I would be very happy to spend my time choosing an ELECTOR - and I'd be very happy having town meetings with said ELECTOR so that he or she understood my pov - and having said ELECTOR choose my President, with no further input from me...  

But as it exists today - the ELECTORS seem to be shady backroom type people who someone chose from somewhere to do something for a whole lot of money... :(

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#52 Uncle Sid

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 02:01 PM

Well, they're not precisely shady, nor am I really certain they get all that much money for it.  They *are* generally lesser known party functionaries, however, who are "rewarded" with the position on the ballot for service and loyalty.  Nevertheless, it's mostly honorary as the electors do have theoretical constitutional power, but they really don't have a choice.  In some states, there are even laws requiring the electors to vote for who they were elected to vote for.  

Now, of course, if the EC was given it's full powers to act independently, then we would have to ensure that they were prevented from acting for their own profit in making their selections.  It's much less expensive to corrupt one person than it is to get people on the bandwagon in the general public.  On the other hand, it's easier to monitor an elector as well.  

The biggest problem, in my opinion, and probably the reason that the college never acted in the way they were intended to is because it does sort of weaken the mandate of the Presidency.  If no one can truly say that they voted for George Bush or Al Gore, then other world leaders who oppose us could make the point that perhaps the US government isn't actually supported by the people.  However, then the Presidency won't be at the mercy of opinion polls either.

I'm not sure I personally want the College as originally concieved.  On the other hand, I do think that we do need to put in place controls that correct for the relative ignorance of the population at large.   Perhaps an electoral college that has full power, but it's choice of candidate is limited by a popular "choose your three favorite candidates" vote and the college selects which one wins.  

In the meantime, though, there is a need to hear the opinions and address the needs of rural people as well as urban people.  Otherwise, the urbanites might find themselves voting for people who end up causing the food supply to dry up because of poor rural management.  Or worse, disenfrachised rural people going into rebellion by being forced to abide by an urban culture they can't understand.
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. - Jack Handey

#53 Banapis

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 02:38 PM

Javert Rovinski, on Jul 30 2003, 04:31 PM, said:

States, however, are free to pas laws forcing their electors to obey the will of the people.
It's true that States may pass, and have passed, such laws... whether or not they’re actually enforceable or not is another question.  Remember, Article II, Section 1 states:

Quote

Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.

Thus, the Constitution only allows the states to decide how the electors are chosen.  In the Constitutional ideal, electors (theoretically presumed to be the greatest and wisest men of each State chosen by the people or the State legislature, etc.) gather together with their fellow electors at a convention in their State capitol, passionately debate with each other about whom they feel would make the best President, and cast their votes accordingly.

With this in mind, I would argue State laws that presume to tell electors what to do when they cast their vote guaranteed them by the U.S. Constitution are null and void.  The fact the Constitution gives electors a vote plainly means they are bestowed with the power to make a choice -- for making a choice is the essence of voting. The Constitution granted States no power to take away the elector’s choice.  Somewhat similarly, the Supreme Court has struck down State laws presuming to impose term limits on U.S. Congressmen.  Mere state laws cannot alter the mechanisms of the Federal Government established by the Constitution.

Having said all that, the point is, of course, academic. ;) People like the idea of having the electors bound to the will of the people of the State; and nobody is really interested in challenging these laws.  And if such a Supreme Court decision ever came down, I'm sure a Constitutional Amendment overruling it would be passed in short order.

Quote

I really like the congressional idea.

Congressional districts... wouldn’t those would be the pesky little things that keep leading to legislators fleeing Texas? :D  Under this proposal, gerrymandering would not only affect representation in the U.S. House, but the selection of the President as well.  No, I've never liked the sound of that.

Another idea I’ve heard but hasn’t been mentioned in this thread:  since there is no Constitutional requirement that electoral votes be awarded on a winner-take-all basis, divide each State's electoral votes based on the amount of votes cast for each candidate*. So, a State with 10 electoral votes whose populace voted 60% Republican, 30% Democratic, and 10% Green would issue 6 votes to the Republican candidate, 3 to the Democrat, and 1 to Ralph Nader.  ;) Imagine the countless kids cursing our names as they learn the formula in Civics class and struggle through the calculations on the final exam!  :D

Or, we could simply keep the current winner-take-all votes system, but amend the Constitution to abolish the actual casting of votes by electors in their State Capitols.  The person with the most votes in each state is simply awarded all the electoral votes.

Banapis

* Naturally, you’d want to include other specifics, such as perhaps a 33% of the vote threshold (since each State is guaranteed a minimum 3 electoral votes), guidelines as to when you round up, etc.

#54 Cauda

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 07:57 PM

RPITA, on Jul 30 2003, 11:02 PM, said:

I may be misremembering, but isn't there a state that does such a thing? I seem to recall a state doing that in the 2000 election.
I believe Maine and Nebraska both do this.
Each state gets a number of electoral college votes equal to its congressional representation, that is, one for each senator and representative. Thus the least populated states (and D.C. which counts as a state) get 3 while the state with the highest population (California) gets 54. Electors in 48 states and D.C. all vote for the candidate who won the popular vote. In Maine and Nebraska, two electoral votes (the ones for the senators) are at-large and are awarded to the winner of the popular vote while  the others are given to the candidate who wins each congressional district. In practice, however, as Maine is heavily Democratic and Nebraska heavily Republican, all electoral votes from each state are awarded to the same candidate.
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