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The Electoral College Controversy Essay, Research Paper

The Electoral College Controversy

In the Constitution of the United States of America it states, “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America”. Now we all know that the president is the head of the executive branch of our government, but all of us do not know the exact process of how the President is elected. Our president is chosen through the Electoral College, which is a group of people appointed by their parties to choose our president. Some people do not believe this is the best process to choose our chief executive. The people who do not believe that the current electoral process is the fairest believe that another system of election is the best. The other kind of election process that can be used to elect our president is called the direct election method. The direct method is the process of electing the chief executive through the use of the regular popular vote.

Before it can be examined if the Electoral College method of electing our president is the fairest and best way, it has to be explained. First of all each state in the union gets a certain number of electors. Basically the Electoral College system works like this today. Every ten years the census figures adjusts how many Representatives each state has. This number plus two, representing the two senators, equals how many electors each state has. Also Washington DC has 3 electors. Then each state has the right to decide how to select these electors. Forty-eight states use the general ticket system, two states, Maine and Nebraska, use the district system. The general ticket system is supposed to operate as follows. There is a direct vote election held in each state and the winner of the vote is supposed to get all of that states electoral votes. In 24 states the electors are required to vote as pledged. In Maine and Nebraska there is an election held in each congressional district. The winner of every district gets one electoral vote, and the candidate with the most electoral votes gets the remaining two electoral votes. Then all of the votes are counted, and if a candidate gets more than half the votes, he/she becomes the new president. If there is no majority then the election gets thrown into the House of Representatives, This almost never happens. There each state is given one vote and they vote on the top three candidates. If a candidate gets a majority vote, then he/she becomes president. If not they continue voting until a majority is reached and the speaker of the house become a temporary president until a majority is reached The state’s seats in both the house and in the senate determine the number of electors. So with everything in mind if we take New York as an example which has thirty-one house seats, you add the amount of senate seats and the total is a number of thirty-three. That means that New York has a total of thirty-three electoral votes.

Now each political party chooses bedrock members to become electors. Bedrock members of a particular party are just rank and file members but who are extremely loyal to the party. Now most people do not realize this but when the masses go to the voting booth, they are not voting for a candidate for the presidency, they are voting for electors. If one would look close enough in the voting booth they would see that underneath the candidates name the words “electors for” are inscribed. This means the race from state to state is not between the candidates, it’s between the electors who support the candidate. The race to win the positions of electors is a winner-take-all race. That means even if the electors for Mr. X only got one more vote that Mr. Z, Mr. X would receive all of the electoral positions.

Now this is a huge criticism of the system, quite a large number of Americans believe that the electoral votes should be split according to the popular vote with in the state. They believe that for instance if the popular vote is extremely close, they should split the electoral votes down the middle. This idea is obscenely foolish, for various reasons. First of all, if the electoral system would be changed to favor the popular vote, it shouldn’t be done halfway; it should be made completely of the popular vote. The second reason that it is one bad idea is because; it will add a lot of complication to the election process. Think about it, New York has thirty-three votes. Now suppose the popular vote in New York was exactly even, how would the votes be split? The politicians would argue over that last electoral vote till the cows came home. The electoral process has to be one of two extremes, it either has to be the way it is now, or completely based on popular vote, there can be no happy medium.

Now because of our recent presidential election, the Electoral College has been under some heavy criticism, many Americans feel that the electoral college is no way to elect our executive. Because of the way that electoral votes are distributed among the states, some states have a huge number of electors, while other states have a rather small number of electors. This is one of the criticisms of the system; it is possible to win the office of the presidency by only actually winning the big states. This creates what some believe is inequality in voting power. They believe that there is only one system that treats all Americans the same and that is direct election of the president. (Best 125)

Another big criticism of the Electoral College is that some Americans believe that their vote doesn’t count in the presidential race; this could not be further from the truth. Under the Electoral College system, we do not elect the President and Vice President through a direct nation-wide vote. The Presidential election is decided by the combined results of 51 State elections (in this context, the term “State” includes Washington DC). Your vote helps decide which candidate receives your State’s electoral votes. It is possible that an Elector could ignore the results of the popular vote, but that occurs very rarely.

The founders of the nation devised the Electoral College system as part of their plan to share power between the States and the national government. Under the Federal system adopted in the Constitution, the nation-wide popular vote has no legal significance. As a result, it is possible that the electoral votes awarded on the basis of State elections could produce a different result than the nation-wide popular vote. Nevertheless, the individual citizen’s vote is important to the outcome of each State election.

Now once again the nation wide popular vote has again no legal significance, this has to be repeated because a vast majority of Americans have an extremely hard time understanding this concept. After our recent election, constant whining has been made about who had more votes in the nation-wide popular vote keeps on being brought up. All the nation-wide national vote figures show are the numbers, that’s all they are; numbers.

Our present Electoral system is being bashed all the time, making some people believe that it is not that great of a system, but even the direct method of electing our president has its downside. According to some the problem if local fraud will be magnified under the direct vote system (Peirce 284). It can be argued though that the fraud would be no different under the direct vote system as it is now with the Electoral College method. One huge flaw within the direct vote method is the fact of a close election. After what happened only a few short months ago, America now knows that politicians are willing to fight for every vote that they can get, now if we had the direct vote method, and there was a close one like that again, what would happen? The country would go into chaos. Lets say that America uses the direct method of election and the ballots through some miracle, the votes came in and the loser lost by 1000 votes through out the country, that would be horrible. Investigations would take place to see if any fraud has taken place, but they would be taken across the nation, so the country would be going to hell while the politicians were fighting the outcome. Also if the numbers came out even, how would the president be chosen? It would definitely be unfair to let congress decide the outcome because they are so partisan, so it cannot even be fathomed what would happen. After the most recent election Americans have to understand that these days that anything is possible.

We all know that the reason the electoral college was created for the same reason that senatorial elections were not direct, to keep some power out of the hands of the people. Now we all know that the direct election on Senators was a fabulous idea, it gave much needed power back the people. But the direct election of the president is defiantly going to far, our current system we have now has elected us forty-three presidents who have run this country in a way that cannot be anymore perfect unless planned. The Electoral College system was built into our Constitution by our founding fathers for a reason. I believe that Americans should stop fighting over what kind of system we have to electing our president and start worrying about things that really matter like foreign and domestic polices. If Americas want the power of direct elections, they should show the American government that they can be political by getting involved in issues that make a difference, and then who knows?

Peirce, Neal R. The People’s President. Simon and Schuster, New York. 1968.

W. Sayre and J. Parris. Voting for President, the Electoral College and the American Political System. The Brooking Institution, Washington D.C. 1970.

Best, Judith. The Case Against Direct Election of the President, A Defense of the Electoral College. Cornell University Press, Ithaca. 1975


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