The Electoral College is the body in the United States democratic system responsible for the election of the president and vice president. This job is done every four years. The citizens of the country do not directly elect these two. Instead, there is an election of electors who are put on the Electoral College based on certain criteria. Different state laws apply to the election of the president and vice president. Most members of the Electoral College are often pledged voters who have promised to vote for a particular candidate (Morris, 2010). It is possible, however, to have unpledged members elected into the College. This paper gives a background on the Electoral College, and gives the advantages and disadvantages of this system.
The particular laws of the state will always define the eligibility of the intermediary voters that are brought on board to the Electoral College. The combination of the 50 states alongside the District of Columbia elects representatives according to the number of their congressmen available to each state. The case of the District of Columbia, also known as Washington D.C., has the least number of representatives because it is the least populous - a number which stands at three representatives currently (Morris, 2010). In most states, the electors are based on a winner takes all basis, where the preferred presidential candidate in a state takes all the votes from members of the Electoral College in the particular state. The only states that have the exception to this rule are Maine and Nebraska. In these two states, the congressional district method of choice is used, where representatives are chosen based on popularity at the district level and two representatives are chosen at a state-popularity level. As such, the two states have a combination of preferred candidates on a district basis, and the representatives elect the presidential candidate of choice based on the more devolved system of choosing (The Center for Voting and Democracy, 2009).
The pledging system for the voter on the Electoral College has not had any historical constitutional backing in law. nonetheless, it is something held in moral obligation that the voter adheres to the standard put to the concerning the vote they should put in. this is the case so much so that there are only very few instances where the voter has voted differently from the expected vote for that particular state (Berg-Andersson, 2004). Voter information has been made public on many instances concerning the votes that different electors have put, which is according to US provision on access to information in the First Amendment. The Twelfth Amendment further affords every member of the Electoral College a vote for the president, and another for the vice president.
The Electoral College system has come under fire from many jurisdictions because of its different approach to the voting of the leaders in a country. Despite the American democracy being a model in many nations, the Electoral College system is still strange to many countries and becomes a source of criticism. Nonetheless, the analytical approach to this comparison will offer a good view at the advantages and disadvantages of this system.
The Electoral College offers many advantages as a system of democracy. This section will discuss among other things, the certainty that the Electoral College brings to the results of an election, the preclusion of recounting processes, and provides the majority leadership system.
Certainty of Results
The Electoral College provides a certain outcome over the results of a presidential election. Despite the criticism of the system to provide the voters with the direct right to vote for the leader of their choice, this choice is delegated to electors who do the voters bidding. The certainty of this system is far more assured as opposed to the system of popular vote. Considering the plurality of states in the confederation and the population of the country, the electoral vote system would not be a viable option because of the chances of a recount being requested by candidates who think that they would get more votes in that state. The electoral system provides the winner of an election based on a smaller scale that represents the peoples views. Though it is possible for the vote in the Electoral College to be a tie because the members of the College are an even number (538 in total), it is highly unlikely that this will be the case.
Furthermore, the Electoral College system provides the higher value as compared to the popular vote, ensuring that the candidate has a clearer win in view of state supports as opposed to the popular vote system. Consider the 2008 election between Obama and Romney. Obama received 61.7% support in the Electoral College as opposed to 51% in popular vote something that could possibly bring contestation if this was an electoral majority win. As such, there is certainty of results in the case of the Electoral College as this removes the uncertainty that would come with the counting of individual votes all across the states. Furthermore, the College allows for representation so that the preferred candidate takes all the votes from that state, thus representing the majority of the people in that state.
In addition, this kind of system reduces the chances for a run-off election. Consider the cases of Nixon and Clinton in 1968 and 1992 respectively. On an average of the total electoral votes, they each garnered 43%. Nonetheless, they won a majority of the votes in the Electoral College (301 and 370 respectively). If this was not the case, the high chances were that there was going to be a run-off election, which is a complicated process. This pressure would be there because of the legal requirement to have a majority winner. However, the Electoral College system eliminated this chance altogether by ensuring that the Electoral College majority could guarantee a winner in both instances.
The intention of the Electoral College is to ensure that the presidential candidates have trans-regional appeal to the American people. The president of the United States is a person that should be able to amply represent the interests of the American people across all regions. As such, the support bases of the candidate should not just be from one region, making people from other regions feel disenfranchised and that their interests will not be considered. This would be the challenge presented by an electoral vote system since a simple majority in a few populous states would ensure a win for the candidate. Therefore, the Electoral College system encourages candidates to campaign in regions where they dont have a lot of support to ensure that they have the necessary backing from non-supporting states in their presidential bid. Consider the case of Mitt Romney in the 2008 election. He had a lot of support in the Southern region. As such, it was necessary that he garner support from the northern states in order to have a successful presidential campaign. Nonetheless, this was not the approach taken and the presidential bid was unsuccessful. The Electoral College system thus provides incentive to aspiring presidential candidates to make strong appeals to all states in the confederation to support them in their run. The system thus favors a president who is considered everyones president (Posner, 2012).
Flowing from the campaign approach of intensifying campaigns in non-supporting states, the candidates are aware of states with a very high stake in the Electoral College because of their populous representation. As such, the winner-takes-all method of awarding Electoral College votes induces candidates to further campaign more in states that are likely to ensure a change of results once their support is garnered. States that are referred to as toss-up states are very likely to change the results of the presidential races because of their votes. Toss-up states are more likely to be attentive to the campaigns that the candidates are doing, and watch their methods even through the campaign because they are aware of their shifting abilities in the election. Voters from these states are the most thoughtful ones, knowing they are the major decision makers. As such, it is possible that they will have the final say. Therefore, they receive more attention because of their ability to determine election outcomes. The winner takes all method is therefore more potent in enabling equitable elections across the nationwide arena.
Giving Rights to Small States
The US is made up of both big states and small states. If the electoral vote was the way through which the president was elected, then small states would have their right of choice outweighed by the say of the big states. Take, for example, the state of Wyoming, which is the least populous state in the US. The state contains only about a sixth of 1 percent of the total US population. However, it has three representatives in the Electoral College gives the overall sway of the state to be about a half of 1 percent of the total vote. Thus, the Electoral College systems biases its votes based on the less populous states, so that presidential candidates who have more support in least populous states are more weighted in the Electoral College votes. While this may seem to create inequality, balance is restored because many appointments in the course of campaigns and winning are appointed based on the support bases from large states. Furthermore, senators and presidents are often presidential candidates, thus having a high likelihood of state appointments. These senators and representatives often get an equally rewarding experience after the election despite the disapportionment that happens in the course of Electoral College happenings. As such, the Electoral College system of voting gives all states a relatively more level playing field in the voting system as opposed to the electoral vote.
The first con of this system as can be derived from the advantages is the ability of the system to distort the popular vote. As was the case in the Nixon and Clinton elections, there was no clear cut majority winner among the American population. This means that the Electoral College system trumped the say of the people in electing Clinton and Nixon in the above-mentioned years. The popular choice is an important part of any election. Although the electors are the representatives of the people, the choice lies with the electorate to elect the president and vice president when all is said and done. This is the true mark of democracy a government of the people, for the people and by the people (Herndon & Welk, 1892). This is not the case in the American democracy since the peoples views can be trumped by the views of the electors. The removal of the uncertainty put in place by the electoral vote directly means that the views of the people could be trumped in the process.
The electoral system is one that should encourage multiple candidates. The ability of the people to choose from a wide range of candidates and decide who their best bet is makes an important aspect of democracy that needs be considered. As such, there is need to have a variety of individuals to choose from in the election. The Electoral College system limits the choice of the electors to two possible candidates, creating a deviation from this need. All the candidates of an election are predetermined at the nomination stage so that third parties are locked out of electoral races before they come to the Electoral College stage. This is because, in most instances, the Electoral College has only had two candidates to choose from, making the chances for a third candidate almost impossible. This...
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