Election of president by popular voteWhat if ... we elected the president by popular vote? 



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larrygates's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #2)

The issue of popular election of the President is a matter of debate every election year; however the fact that no serious effort has been made to change it would seem to indicate that no one has serious problems with the present electoral system. The electoral college was created to ensure that the President was elected by the states, and thereby preserve some modicum of states rights. It allows the smaller states a larger voice in presidential elections than would be the case if only the popular vote were considered. Several presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, were elected by less than a majority of the popular vote. Were there no electoral college; it is highly likely that the voices of residents of smaller states would be diluted; plus, in those instances in which more than two candidates are running, there would be more races settled in the House of Representatives.

bullgatortail's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #3)

Popular vote sure seems like the most logical and democratic way of electing a President, doesn't it? However, the electoral college--though antiquated and virtually unique in its conception--is so well-established that it will never be eliminated. The abolishiment of the electoral college would certainly have changed many outcomes, particularly the 2000 Presidential race, in which Al Gore garnered more popular votes than George Bush. Just think what our world would be like today had Bush not been our President for two terms?

pohnpei397's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #4)

I don't think we would need to worry about races decided in the House because if we abolished the Electoral College, we'd have to do so by amending the Constitution, at which point we could make rules about what (if anything) would be done if an election failed to yield a candidate who won the majority of the popular vote.

One thing that would happen is that more attention would be paid to states with large populations, even if those states are firmly Democratic or Republican.  Right now, it makes no sense for a Republican to campaign in Texas or a Democrat in California.  Those are states that will go their way and there is no benefit to be gained by winning by a larger margin.  If we had popular elections, these large states would get more attention than they do now from candidates.

readerofbooks's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #5)

That would make for an interesting development. I would imagine there would be problems with states with smaller populations. They may get completely neglected, because their little population may not get too much attention. On the flip side, states with larger populations would get more attention. There are problems with the electoral system, but a popular vote would create problems as well.

brettd's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #6)

I think it would make a lot more sense than the system we use now.  Not only could we have averted the 2000 election debacle, but then no news agency or pundit would be able to proclaim one candidate the winner until California, our most populous state, was counted.  Turnout in the West has traditionally been lower than the eastern states, in part because often times when voters get off work at 5 and head to the polls, New York is already counting, and the winner has often already been decided, so people in the west feel as though their votes matter less.

Plus, there is very little that is democratic about the Electoral College.  It is an antiquated relic.

stolperia's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #7)

I would like to see a serious debate about the relevancy of the Electoral College in the face of political realities today. Good cases could be made for retaining it and for getting rid of the system, as we have seen in prior posts. The main reasons we won't see the debate any time soon, in my opinion, are the difficulty in bringing a constitutional amendment into the realm of discussion, let alone passing Congress and being sent to the states for action, and the significant number of topics that need the attention of Congress more immediately than an electoral process that may be outdated but is still functioning without threat of imminent collapse.

mwestwood's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #9)

I am with post #6!  Why even vote if you live in the West or an unpopulated state? Look at the red/blue map of the United States's last election and see how few states the current president won.  He would not be president if it were not for the electoral college. Debacle as #6 states!  This unbalanced determination of elections discounts many, many Americans.  It also points to the great power of large cities and their control of the nation--a scary thought as one is well aware of the political corruption in such cities! Democracy?  Think again.

literaturenerd's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #10)

I have always wondered why we didn't. I never really understood the concept of the Electoral College. I do think that electing the President by popular vote would be much more realistic--given the Electoral College vote is simply biased.

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billdelaney's profile pic

Posted on (Reply #1)

I think it was largely a matter of communication and transportation. An elector might have to travel for days to cast his vote in person, and if he came from California it could take him months to get to Washington, D.C. But the system is antiquated now. Some politicians may want to retain it because they benefit from it. 

boblawrence's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #11)

I favor election by a popular majority.  I don't see the need for the electoral college. But it will never happen.  Apparently there are just too many people (politicians, political advisers, State organizations, political machines) who rely on the complex electoral college system, and therefore want it preserved.

It's a little like our tax system.  Surely a straight, across the board income tax of 10 or 20% would do it.  But too many people (accountants, lawyers, tax preparers, etc.) rely on the present complex system, so it will never be changed

brettd's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #12)

I am with post #6!  Why even vote if you live in the West or an unpopulated state? Look at the red/blue map of the United States's last election and see how few states the current president won.  He would not be president if it were not for the electoral college. Debacle as #6 states!  This unbalanced determination of elections discounts many, many Americans.  It also points to the great power of large cities and their control of the nation--a scary thought as one is well aware of the political corruption in such cities! Democracy?  Think again.

  Actually, Obama would have won handily if it were a popular vote only, in fact, by almost ten million votes!  Bush, by contrast, was one of only three Presidents in history to win the electoral college but lose the popular vote.

wordprof's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #13)

The real problem is what to do about the "one person, one vote" idea built into the Constitution.  With advertising, lobbying, PAC's, etc., the actual voting process is all messed up. Electoral college vs. individual count is not the biggest problem -- there are many parts of the Constitution that should be updated: the right to bear arms, the cruel and unusual punishment -- phrases like this -- 200+ years old, are all distorted now.  How about a third Constitutional Convention?  Wordprof 


herappleness's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #17)

Keep it the way it is. The electoral college is good at filtering often irresponsibly made popular votes. I think, in essence, that this was the primary purpose of its establishment. Either way, I would never EVER change anything that was created during a century in which Americans were ten times more intelligent than they are now. Keep the forefathers' ideas going. It will be our only salvation in the end.

drjjpdc's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #19)

Answers from 6, 9 and 10 really scare me. #10 how can you want to get rid of something you don't really understand? #'s 6 and 9, of course there is very little democratic about the EC, that's the whole point!! We do not live in a democracy but a democratic republic! A democracy is what the Greek city-states had, where there were no reprentatives and all decisions are determined by a vote of all citizens. 

Go back and read the Articles of Confederation and the gestation of our Constitution. The small states like Rhode Island were seriously afraid of their debt during the war and that the larger states with populations that can afford such payments would enforce them on the smaller states. Then there are areas of commerce to be dealt with and that includes taxes and tariffs too. It is not just about voting, but how the minority are to be protected from the tyranny of the majority. I am sure you folks must have heard that phrase. There was no SCOTUS then you know.

Have you forgotten the Great Compromise of the Constitutional Convention? That to insure fair representation, the 2 houses of Congress were to have equality in the upper house (Senate) and by population in the lower house (Representatives). If you cannot see where I am going with this and how the EC protects the minority voters in a Presidential election, it is a lost cause.

BTW, there is something of importance today that relates to this discussion. That we would be able to limit discussion to only one topic, if we authorized another Constitutional Convention. By definition that is the job of our present government. A convention is what the states called for once they realized the Articles of Confederation would not work or be equitable.The simple answer is that it is not possible to limit discussion in a convention. Which is a very good reason for not having another one and to simply add an Amendment to our present Constitution so as to not screw up the good work done by Benjamin, Thomas, James, John, etc,


drjjpdc's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #20)

#18 it is the exact opposite.

#13 Please read amendment #2 like it is a piece of english prose devoid of any anti-gun biases, and carefully note how the first phrase is a modifying phrase to help the more important second phrase and that is the real meat of the amendment. What good is only having arms in a militia if they can't get out to your farm to protect you? Did you really think the original crew meant us to be defenseless of life and property at the whims of a militia or police?

enotechris's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #22)

As post #2 suggests, the Electoral College was to level the playing field with regard to less populous states.  However, it probably wouldn't matter if there were direct election of the president, any more than it matters that we have direct election of Federal senators (you may recall that up until 1913, state legislatures, like the Electoral College, voted for whom they would send to the US Senate, not the people.)

Wiggin42's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #23)

I, too, think that the popular vote seems more democratic. But, of course, it brings up the question of less populous smaller states and whether they'll be ignored in elections. But the way the system is set up now, it makes little sense. For instance, my community is largely democratic in a republican state. Our votes are practically meaningless because they are relatively small compared to our state at large. By extension, there seems to be little reason for us to vote because our state will side with the Republican candidate every time.

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