Analyze criticism of the “Electoral College” system and the alleged advantages and disadvantages of various reform proposals.Please cite resources.

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There has been little in the way of reform in the Electoral College system.  There seems to be a very strong desire to abolish it entirely.  However, both sides raise valid points to it.  The side which wishes to abolish it would point to the 2000 Presidential Election as an example of how bad things can get under it.  The fact that the nation which is seen as the leader of the free world did not have a president- elect for six weeks following a national election is calamitous.  At the same time, the opposite side of this perspective makes the argument that elements featured in the Constitution should not be destroyed or eliminated with an occasional gliche in the system.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The small state criticism is one that is often heard, although from my viewpoint, it is not quite accurate.  Small states have a minimum of 3 electoral votes, a very small percentage of the total of 538.  The argument is that if there were no Electoral College and we went by a straight popular vote, the percentage of the total vote for a state like South Dakota would be less than their percentage of the electoral college.

The thing is, it's marginally less.  The argument that candidates would ignore the smaller states is a fallacy, because the candidates already do.  There are very few "swing" states that are undecided between the Democratic or Republican candidates in the Midwest, Alaska or Hawaii, and so these states are usually conceded in favor of electoral rich swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Colorado.  Since the small states tend to vote Republican (Hawaii and Washington DC are notable exceptions), you tend to hear more Republican opposition to the idea of doing away with the Electoral College.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The most usual proposal for "reform" is to simply do away with the Electoral College and have a direct vote by the people.  This has advantages and disadvantages, of course.

The advantage would be that this would be a truer exercise in democracy.  As we saw in the 2000 election, it is possible to win the presidency even if fewer people vote for you than for your opponent.  That seems wrong.

The problem here is that it would reduce the importance of some states quite a bit.  Candidates would probably ignore many of the small states and go only to the big states where there are a lot of votes to be had.  In the current system, the small states have more electoral votes than they "deserve" and so candidates must pay more attention to them.  This, you can argue, makes our presidential candidates pay attention to the needs of more states than they would in a truly popular election.

There are other reforms and other arguments, of course...

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mvymvy | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on


98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided "battleground" states. Only one small state was among them. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (OH, FL, PA and VA).


The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.


Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.


The bill would take effect when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes-- (270 of 538). All the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.


The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.


The bill is currently endorsed by over 1,659 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.


In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).


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