The Electoral College: A System Unaffected by Partisan Politics

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The Electoral College is the collective name for the electors who choose the president and vice president of the United States. The electoral system was developed by the drafters of the Constitution, to entrust the responsibility to people whose choice would be unaffected by partisan politics. In Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution, the method of selecting electors is delegated to the separate state legislatures. When a voter chooses a candidate in a presidential election that person is not directly voting for that specific candidate. The voter is actually voting for the electors in their state to vote for that candidate. Each state is allotted a certain number of electoral votes based on population. Presently the fifty states and the District of Columbia have a total of 538 electors. A simple majority of 270 votes is necessary for a candidate to win the election. With this system it is possible for a candidate to have enough electoral votes to win the election, while loosing the popular vote. The issue is whether or not the Electoral College should be eliminated.

There is no doubt that the Electoral College is a very important part of the election process, and therefore should continue to be used. First, turning to a nationwide popular vote to pick a president would give less power to the smaller states and lesser populated regions. Voters from smaller states, already struggling for attention in presidential races, worry about being ignored altogether by candidates who choose to campaign exclusively in a highly populated region. If the president were elected by popular vote, it wouldn’t matter what the less populated regions wanted. For example, the 2000 election is so close that loosing the three electoral votes from a smaller state, such as South Dakota or Rhode Island, could decide the whole election. With a popular vote the only places that would really affect the outcome of the election would be very highly populated, such as Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago. For this reason, a candidate would campaign in these cities and try to please them instead of the country as a whole. The Electoral College is meant to require that a candidate have a broad geographic reach. In addition, changing to a popular vote would require an amendment to the Constitution. There have been several attempts to change this part of the Constitution in the past, and all have failed. It is very difficult to amend our Constitution, since both the House and Senate must pass a two-thirds majority vote for a change to be made. Then legislatures in at least thirty-eight of the fifty states must ratify it. Even if the amendment passed in the House and Senate, thirty-eight of the states would not ratify it because of the fact that it takes power away from the smaller states. We have a Constitution that has lasted for two centuries because its framers knew how to make the document apply to situations like voting years in the future. The presidential election was meant to be a vote of the people in each state, not a vote of the country as a whole. This is not the federal republic of America, it is the United States of America. Our sense of union is based on the Electoral College. Finally, the voters of a state choose whom they want to represent them, and they also tell the electors how they should vote. Although an elector doesn’t have to vote the way their state wants them to they usually do. A few times in the past an elector has not voted the way his state did, but it has never changed the outcome of the election. Because the electors are chosen by the people, every state is represented fairly in the Electoral College. For these reasons, the Electoral College is as effective today as it was two hundred years ago. The president of the United States should never be elected by a popular vote.

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