Electoral College System Essay, Research Paper
After the last presidential election, which is still underway apparently, there is much controversy over what should happen to the Electoral College system. There are people who say that the Electoral College is good but should be modified to meet the needs of the modern world. There are those who say that the Electoral College system is too outdated to be modified and should be entirely eliminated. Finally there are those who say that it is has stood the test of time and is still the best system for our country.
The original framers of the constitution obviously preferred the electoral system to a direct popular election. The argument that historians give for this is that they preferred this system because travel was difficult and there were no national party organizations. I personally reject this argument. I agree that travel was difficult back then, but wouldn’t that have meant that the candidate who lived closest to the most largest states would have an un-fair advantage under the electoral system back then? The historians add that the framers feared that many regional candidates would divide the vote, and that by requiring a candidate to win a majority in the Electoral College was a way of obtaining a national census.
There have been many attempts to reform or even scrap the Electoral College election sense it’s birth. The most recent one being in 1997 when congress debated a constitutional amendment to replace the electoral system with a direct popular vote system. However the Electoral College system to this day remains virtually un-changed from its original form. The only exception is the twelfth amendment, which requires each elector to cast two votes, one for president and one for vice president.
Under the current system there are five hundred and thirty eight electors. Each state gets one elector, each representative, and a senator. A presidential candidate needs two hundred and seventy votes to win the election. The electors meet after the November popular election to cast their votes and officially elect the president. Electors may vote for whomever they wish. Each state’s electoral votes are awarded on a winner take all bases.
The arguments to modify or eliminate the Electoral College system are all derived from the notion that it is outdated. Under the current system if a candidate wins a large states like California, then they win twenty percent of the needed votes even though California only accounts for eleven percent of the U.S. population. What’s more is a president can be elected without winning a majority of the popular vote. This has happened 15 times in U.S. history. The constitution allows electors to use their discretion. Seven times in history an elector has not casted his vote for the peoples choice. Fortunately this has not yet had a real affect on the outcome of an election. Under the current system each states electoral votes are awarded on a winner take all basis. This makes it extremely difficult for a third party or independent candidate to win any electoral votes. In fact, by concentrating support in certain states, a candidate can take the presidency with out winning more popular votes than his opponent. According to the 1990 census, a candidate only needs to win eleven of the most heavily populated of the fifty states in order to take the presidency.
The arguments to maintain the Electoral College system are all derived from the notion that it has worked fine thus far. There have been many attempts to reform the electoral system but none of them have been successful. This is due to the fact that no election system is perfect, but the current system has stood the test of time. It has never rejected the winner of a popular vote majority. It always produces clear and immediately known winners, so far. Getting rid of the Electoral College system would be profoundly dangerous. Especially with the way modern elections are conducted. This would mean that the totality of our campaigns would be a television advertising tarmac kind of campaign. We would be handing the American presidential campaign to whatever media adviser could out slick the other, and not necessarily to the best candidate for our country.