Wednesday, September 29, 2004


The Electoral College

David Bennahum has a post about the electoral college which is very good, not only because of the points raised but because of the resources he uses which are available on his blog (charts and numbers and all that in pdf format). I firmly believe that the electoral college is pretty ridiculous and think that it should be abolished. The reasons given for the electoral college seem to not hold up when confronted with the flaws in the electoral college (namely, that each citizens vote is not counted equally and there exists the possibility - the real possibility I might add - that a candidate can be elected with less votes than another candidate).

The basic argument for the electoral college is that it prevents abuses against those states that are not heavily populated. "The candidates would spend all their time campaigning in New York City and Los Angeles and never go to Wyoming." First of all, the amount of time a candidate spends campaigning in a state is no longer how one informs themselves in the time before an election. People read newspapers, they watch television, they hop on the internet, they talk to friends, neighbors, and relatives and inform themselves.

Well, if its not the attention, its the issues, right? It seems to me that the issues that the President of the United States is elected based on should be those issues on which the majority of the country can find some common ground. There are certainly issues that are specific to rural communities and rural states. However, the US system is built to empower every state equally in the Senate. Defending the electoral college on this basis ignores and underestimates the value of the Senate and the state governments.

Instead of pushing issues of local importance onto the national stage, it seems that the electoral college more frequently puts issues of national importance into the hands of a few - those voters in swing states and states with higher electoral vote to population ratios. I, for one, think that's just not the best way to go about this whole thing.

There was a very very good article in TIME magazine about just this topic; if you have the ability, search some back issues from this last year online to find it. I find it interesting that everyone knows the electoral college system is detrimental for actual democracy - my question being is it apathy or some other motive that drives the adherence to a seemingly obsolete policy?
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