Sunday, October 21, 2012

Direct Popular Vote and the Flaws of the Electoral College

We are currently in the midst of a close, and heated election to determine our next President.  I recently read an article in the Huffington Post about the close votes within “swing-states”, and the importance of these electoral votes. The article by Professor Jackman from Stanford University can be found here
America often boasts our democratic ideals yet; we have a system for electing our President that many, including myself, consider un-democratic. Candidates focus on swing-states [states that could go either way with their electoral votes] more than other states. For example: Mitt Romney is not going to spend much of his campaign’s money in Illinois, because his campaign strategists realize that it is certain for the electoral votes in Illinois to favor President Obama. Is that fair for Romney voters in Illinois?

Even as a liberal, I still believe it’s unfair for Romney supporters. No one should feel like his or her vote doesn’t matter. I truly believe that a direct popular vote should replace electoral votes. Not only are American’s powers to influence our Government hindered by the Electoral College, but also the college hurts voter turnout. On March 14, 2004 the New York Times said that The Electoral College discourages turnout because voters in two-thirds of the nation know well before Election Day who will win their states. The answer to this problem is direct election of the president. Voters are not going to want to vote for their candidate of choice if they already know the Electoral College will choose another candidate. Please comment below your thoughts on the issue. I look forward to getting a good debate going! 


  1. It occurs to me that your comment "voters in two-thirds of the nation know well before Election Day who will win their states" could be something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The news reports that a state is going left, the local voters on the right get discouraged and don't vote when they could have swung it back their way. But media issues aren't the ones you wanted to discuss.
    The problem of the electoral college echoes all the way back to the creation of the Constitution. The idea was to get more influence for the smaller states, supporting the then-popular idea that it was each state as a whole that had a vote. In modern times, with our shift in focus towards the individual, some people want to feel like they have a hand in directly affecting their country's future.
    Multiple amendments have been proposed that would eliminate the college, but none have yet passed, simply because you cannot get a large enough majority for anything around here without a dramatic incident to capture public opinion.

  2. Derek-
    I with this situation there, sooner or later, will be dramatic incident to capture the public's opinion. I think also that people should have a direct hand in the decision process. Let's think of this scenario: Romney gets 48.7% of the vote in a swing-state, let's say Florida. Obama loses to him by .1% in that state but loses the election because of the number of Florida's electoral college votes. Obama then wins many other states and wins the popular vote by 2%. Basically, just because he lost by .1% in one state, but won the rest of the popular vote, shouldn't he win the election? It should be the total general public that decides who wins, no more of this electoral college crap. For god's sake, few people actually understand it, anyway.

  3. Derek is partially correct here. Think about why ELSE the founders would include this kind of "check" on the popular will. And Weis Man seems on target: after the mess of the Election of 2000, the 2012 election could be a catalyst for real change, IF the election is very close. I don't think it will be, but who knows.

    Noah -- not a bad idea for a post, but nothing terribly new here. What would your suggestion look like in the age of social media? It also might be more interesting to explore how the media tries to create a "horse race" where none exists. I may be wrong and am hoping I am.