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Eliminate the Electoral College? You’ll Never See Your Candidate Again

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As a follower of politics, I love seeing all the hair-brained ideas that sprout up from time-to-time arguing for this change or that, without really considering what would happen if it was actually put into practice.

We live in a federal republic. Big states have a larger share of influence, but smaller states still maintain at least some balance through the equal representation in the Senate.

The Electoral College was part of this framework. Presidential candidates had to win at the state-level, but an enormous win in one state couldn’t skew the entire result.

That is, a candidate might win 99% of the vote in California and it wouldn’t matter; they only win the delegates apportioned to the state.

This highlights the problems with eliminating the Electoral College; the very nature of campaigning would change, and most Americans would never see a candidate again.

America is facing growing urbanization — almost 81 percent of the population lives in cities.

Even worse, right at one-third of the U.S.’s total population lives in only ten metropolitan areas!

We’re used to the battleground state phenomenon, where states become flyovers because they are pocketed wins. However, if we eliminated the Electoral College, candidates could campaign in the top 20 metro areas and win the lion’s share of votes.

This would be a politicking nightmare — candidates jockeying to dominate the airwaves in the markets with the most people, while others totally ignore the rural and nationwide vote.

The biggest losers, though, would be the Republicans.

The red/blue map is often dominated by where the urban regions are located. Solid swaths of red are typically wide spreads of rural America.

Whether we like to admit it or not, the urban/rural divide is often represented in the red/blue map — and forcing candidates to campaign along the urban/rural divide would be a stacked deck in favor of the Democrats.

Our Founders knew that they weren’t forming a perfect form of government, that’s why they allowed for a mechanism for change. But to think that we should change to a system where Democrats could campaign in 20 cities while Republicans scramble to unify the rural areas, how would this improve the existing system?

Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

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440 comments
sporkov
sporkov

The problem is that by maintaining the Electoral College it shifts the power to only a few states instead of all of the people.

It should not matter if you do not see the candidates in your area. Actually, who really cares if they come near you. With modern technology, you can watch them 24, 7, 365 if you choose to.

The correct idea should be to make the election as fair to the voters as possible. Thus, the Electoral College must go.

On a similar topic, we need to adjust the representation in the House of Representatives. There are some districts that are over 70% larger than the smallest ones. This truly imbalances the rights of citizens. We should increase the number of members of the House, set a maximum size of a district, and also create a system to balance the votes of the Representatives based on the ratio of citizens per district compared to the other districts.

This would create a true one citizen, one vote, and ensure equal representation.

Joe Cucchiara
Joe Cucchiara

Gerrymandering has a direct affect on the electoral college. How many POTUS'S have gotten the popular "PEOPLES" vote and not won the election? Our Election system is corrupt! This is why we have problems getting people to get out and vote. Those of us who do get out and vote do so because we have the "Right". But watching CNN's red and blue maps make the elections almost a forgone conclusion. And all the election news from all the channels is the same. We need to reform our national election laws. With geopolitical districts and maybe a third part called "The people's party", with the prolific corruption in Washington we could put some fresh blood in our legislative body who would work together for the betterment of this country for a change! Lobbying is another word for bribery! The system is BROKE and we are stuck with the FOX guarding the hen house!

sporkov
sporkov

@Joe Cucchiara That has happened four times. John Quincy Adams beat Andrew Jackson, Rutherford B. Hayes beat Samuel Tilden, Benjamin Harrison beat Grover Cleveland, and George W. Bush beat Al Gore.

Gregory L Rasmussen
Gregory L Rasmussen

The problem with the electoral college is exactly what we are seeing right now and that is if the candidate does not reach a certain number of electoral college votes then, regardless of whether or not he has the most votes, the officials can take away the votes and put a new person of their choice in the election.  This eliminates the public and gives the so called "Elite" all the power just like it would happen in a communist controlled country.  I know my example is not exactly by the book but never the less, the bottom line is the same.  Maybe we just need to change some of the rules to insure that the people and not the "Elite" , have the power to put into office the person of their choice.    

sporkov
sporkov

@Gregory L Rasmussen I think you are confusing the primary system, which sucks in and of itself, with the general election and the electoral college.

Joe Cucchiara
Joe Cucchiara

@sporkov @Gregory L Rasmussen  Not really guys. Our legislators have customized the system to serve them, therefore the whole electoral process sucks. Money is power and power breads corruption. I don't know your ages but I was born during WW11 and the Government today has no similarity to the Government I grew up in. This Country stated to got to hell in a hand basket when "DEREGULATION" started and big money took control of "Our" Country.


Joe Cucchiara
Joe Cucchiara

If the electoral college is allegedly the most qualified to vote for the candidate they think is the most qualified then why not have then create a candidate commitment platform sheet and let the news media do a weekly update. Let the voters know how and when these people vary on their platform. Because none of us are fortune tellers, the most popular candidate and his/her platform could get h/h the popular vote but American Politics today seem to have a form of their own. If the POTUS doesn't have a same party Congress, he's dead in the water (figuratively speaking). Congress and the dinosaur members run the show and pass any laws they want or add on so much crap to a proposed law of the POTUS that, if passed, is so diluted it has no balls. We need to clean house (pardon the pun) and get new people who represent the people, not their own personal agenda! LETS MAKE IT HAPPEN, PEOPLE!!!!!!   

Joe Cucchiara
Joe Cucchiara

In a perfect world, one would say "We need to change the laws" But sadly, we have the fox guarding the hen house!

Robert Mahoney
Robert Mahoney

It sure looks like our Fore Fathers knew what they were doing when they wrote the Constitution. Otherwise farmers and ranchers would all simply be surfs, right?

Timothy Brinduse
Timothy Brinduse

Oppose. The voice of votes should belong to the people, not the land.

Anthony Ferrantelli
Anthony Ferrantelli

We need the electoral college, but I think it needs to be altered slightly in two ways; first is, we need to increase the size of the house of reps to better represent the population size of the US, and second, all delegates should be proportional no more winner take all.

Joe Cucchiara
Joe Cucchiara

Anthony, as long as there is gerrymandering, we could have twice the reps and still not have a level voting field. It would just cost us more money (in Taxes) to pay these crooks. We need a third party choice and open primaries on a national level not by the will of the states. These reps control the whole country so why should the states decide how they are elected? 

partyrecon
partyrecon

Umm. Hasn't the current system led to the tyranny of the 1%? Facts and realities are important. Unless your goal is NOT to have government of, by, and for The People , and instead prefer oligarchy. Which do you prefer?

CockerSpaniel23
CockerSpaniel23

I'm in favor of keeping the Electoral College.  The Founding Fathers warned us against drifting toward democracy.  As James Madison wrote in one of the Federalist Papers, democracy can only lead to tyranny,.

partyrecon
partyrecon

That seems a bit silly, seeing as how the current system has led to the absolute tyranny of the 1%. Do you like this outcome, or would you, as Lincoln did, prefer government of,by, and for The People?

sporkov
sporkov

They warned against direct Democracy. That is voting on all issues by all citizens, not direct elections. But, to be honest, they did worry about that also because of the lack of education at the time.

Welch Wade
Welch Wade

The sad part is the fact this needs conversation from people educated in the country

Greg Motrenec
Greg Motrenec

I say do away with the Electoral College! The day of the Horse and Buggy is long gone!

Edith Shaffner
Edith Shaffner

We need the electoral College to even the playing field.

Ray Lovins
Ray Lovins

CA. SHOULD BE SPLIT PER POP VOTE NOT ALL VOTES SHOULD JUST FOR DEMS!!!

Ray Lovins
Ray Lovins

NO THE BIGGEST CITIES SHOULD NOT CHOOSE HOW WE ALL LIVE!!!

Lee Young Oursler
Lee Young Oursler

Yes we suffer from the Bush Jr presidency because of voter fraud in Florida where Jeb Bush was governor, even though Al Gore won the popular vote.

Pat Gilliland
Pat Gilliland

Electoral College. Representative Republic, protects the individual from the majority.

PaulLillebo
PaulLillebo

The other purpose of the "Electoral College", as A.Hamilton explained in The Federalist #68, was to add a filter of "men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station" to the raw vote of the rabble. The rabble would not be voting for the president, but would be selecting those who would choose the president. The intent was that these persons should exercise their judgment, not just follow a raw vote.

But the author's argument that "we" wouldn't see the candidates in our states if the EC were eliminated is a non-issue. Hardly anyone sees the candidates as it is. Probably less than 1% of the voters actually lay eyes on a presidential candidate in the course of an election. And unless you live in a "swing state", your chances of seeing a candidate in person is approximately zero.

Barbara Baum
Barbara Baum

Don't understand what we can't just have a democracy. The candidate w/the most wins from American public wins the race. Who was it who won the popular vote but not the electoral college? Was that Gore? If so, he should have been the president. I think electoral college is archaic. Not a true democracy

Richard H T Muenzer
Richard H T Muenzer

BUL Eliminating the electrical College We give voters more power Candidates Pender to the delegates not the voter get rid of the delegates and the candidates have got to deal with the voters one to one

Doug Stubstad
Doug Stubstad

With todays technologies and communications,.. its not really that critical of candidates to hit smaller populated areas,.. we see every rally, and speech regardless,.. I would much rather have my vote count here in Calif,.. ( Hoping soon to be Jefferson State)...

Mickey Snyder
Mickey Snyder

I don't want to see the Electoral College Eliminated. Rather I would like to see the EC Delegates/Electors Be held accountable & Loyal to their Commitment.They are too Vulnerable to Pay-offs/ Bribes to Favor the Powerful Candidates. That should Cease NOW.

Jared Wales
Jared Wales

The only difference that eliminating the Electoral College would make is giving large cities more influence on the elections. 40 of the top 50 cities by population are in states with predictable electoral outcomes (Blue States and Red States).

Jared Wales
Jared Wales

With the Electoral College, the only votes that would matter would be swing state votes. Without the Electoral College, the only votes that would matter would be votes in highly-populated areas.

Jared Wales
Jared Wales

Without the Electoral College, all campaigns would need to do is campaign in highly-populated cities and states to win the Presidency. Right now, 40 of the top 50 cities by population are in states with predictable electoral outcomes. Also, 5 of the 6 most populous states (with 20+ electoral votes each) are states with predictable electoral outcomes.

sporkov
sporkov

The only reason that they are predictable is because of the Electoral College. Once everyone's vote, everywhere is on equal footing, we all win and the political class loses.

Swampfox26
Swampfox26

@sporkov Without the EC, all future candidates for the Pres and VP would come from the four most populous states, CA, NY, TX, FL.  There would never again be a candidate from a small state, e.g. Cheney from WY.

Joe Cucchiara
Joe Cucchiara

@Swampfox26 @sporkov  With the latest comments of the RNC, these maim line Republicans have taken control of the election  laws . They are the ones provoking the people to riot because they have taken away the will of the people and  thumbed their noses at voting majority. The RNC should be careful of what they wish for. It's going to bite them in the ass and they can't blame Trump!

partyrecon
partyrecon

@Swampfox26 @sporkov That's one helluva' statement Swampfox.  Care to back it up with ANY reasoning?  Or is it just more useless hyperbole?

Jared Wales
Jared Wales

Also, 40 of the top 50 cities by population are in states with predictable electoral outcomes.

Jared Wales
Jared Wales

The plight of your vote will not be improved by eliminating the electoral college. High-populated cities and states would be the targets of campaigns, which, to be perfectly honest, are areas less targeted currently. California, New York, Texas, Illinois, and Pennsylvania are 5 of the 6 most populous states, and they all have predictable electoral outcomes, just like Kansas. Your state wouldn't be able to compete with them for votes.

Allen Marples
Allen Marples

I did not read....If you want to eliminate the electoral college, you're an idiot.

John Douglas
John Douglas

Sorry Susan, I should have said except for u. I have read most of your comments, didn't have time to read them all.

NPPsupporter
NPPsupporter

If you don't believe the Electoral College meets the needs of the 21st century and is archaic and outdated then what should take it's place.  A national popular vote?  How about a system based on congressional districts, which ever candidate wins the most congressional districts across the county wins.  That makes every congressional district equally important and would force candidates to campaign across the country.  But first, the most important change is the convaluted primary and caucus system to nominate the candidates.  This country needs a system that is consistent from state to state and isn't totally controlled by the political parties.  The congressional district process may be the best way to nominate candidates also.  Remember, election should be about voters, not political parties or candidates.  Elections are for voters to choose who they feel best represents their interests.  The political parties should have no control over the election process.

sporkov
sporkov

@NPPsupporter While I support a straight popular vote, your idea would be, to me, a good 2nd choice. If this would be the choice, we do need to figure out a way to make sure that the Congressional districts are much closer in size than they are now. There was one district that was over 87% larger than the smallest, and the next smallest district was over 7% larger, and all other districts were more than 15% larger.


Unless these differences can be addressed, a straight popular vote is the only fair way to go.

partyrecon
partyrecon

@NPPsupporter The problem with your congressional district plan is that it automatically gives one party ALL OF THE POWER.  And it doesn't take into account your taste in which party/candidate is most aligned to your views of the "separated powers".  For example, you might want a fiscally progressive congress who will govern in service of the 99% (See Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren).  However, you might also want a socially liberal or even Libertarian slanted President, who won't get you entangle in wars-for-profit, won't spy on or fight for unlimited detention for US Citizens, and won't pursue a doctrine of regime change or nation building via drone assassination, a.k.a. exactly what you got with Obama.  As long as we concern ourselves with the appropriate "powers" given to each office, we should have the choice to choose separately.

That said, I favor the instant run-off system in which people vote for a 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice etc. For further details see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting.  First, it expands ballot access, which expands the national conversation and brings more ideas to the table.  Second, it fights against yet another evil of the Electoral College -- propagating the two party system.  Minor parties don't have a prayer of winning even one electoral vote. With instant run-off voting, you NEVER waste your vote, no matter how marginal the candidates chances seem.  How many times have you ever thought, "if everyone who says that voting for a third party candidate was a waste of a vote voted or that third party candidate, they could win!".  

So there you have it.  Plain and simple, the EC sucks and it needs to go.  But since it would take a constitutional amendment, and I'd like to see it go hand in hand with two other mandates:  1. 100% public funding of elections and 2) compulsory voting.  I know.  Quite the pipe dream eh?  But a good one nonetheless.

Swampfox26
Swampfox26

@NPPsupporter In order for a system based on congressional districts, the first step will be to outlaw gerrymandering and create the districts using mapping programs designed with specific parameters which are blind to any party affiliations.

Swampfox26
Swampfox26

@sporkov @NPPsupporter All districts have to be equal in population, not actual area.  The shape of the districts need to have their perimeters as short as possible to prevent a district from spreading over multiple counties and looking like a salamander.  Computer programs exist that can do this.


Corey Slade
Corey Slade

The 90 biggest cities in the country is less than 20% of the popular vote!