questionshow do you feel about the electoral collegeā€¦


with a straight popular vote, new york, florida, california, and texas would be the only states that got any attention from the candidates. The better alternative is for voters of each state to pass ballot initiatives to eliminate the "winner take all" part of the process.

For example, california had around 40% of it's popular votes go for Romney, but 100% of it's electoral votes go to Obama. Similar results in Texas, where all the electors go to Romney even though millions voted for Obama.


I hope it changes within my lifetime, your vote shouldn't be more important if you live in a certain place. Of course it won't since we might actually elect someone who gives a damn about this country not just their checkbook.


I believe the electoral college can make sense. Though it does need to change a few things. Example? The Electoral college does NOT have to vote the way the population in their state votes. Some are actually promised to vote for a certain political parties. We also need to end the "all or nothing" states, that's how the entire country ends up basically decided by a few states. Update the EC to make them vote the way the district in their state votes, have no allegiance to any political party or special interest - then it will even out. Going to the popular vote would still give the larger cities an unfair upper hand in elections.


I think the electoral college enforces the two-party system. No chance for a 3rd-party candidate at this point.


I don't know enough to say whether a straight popular vote is the way to go. But I know that when I vote for President in this state (MA) it means nothing. It's a foregone conclusion that the Democratic candidate will get all of our electoral college votes.


@yessahh: Same here in Illinois. Chicago and Cook County decide for the whole state.

People talk about voter apathy, and I think this is a big part of it. Lots of folks feel their vote doesn't count, even though the standard mantra is "every vote counts." At least if we went by popular vote, every vote truly would count.


Popular vote is a great way to let people outside of LA, NYC, and Chicago that they don't matter. It devalues votes, as right now it's easier for a voter to swing electoral college votes than a straight popular vote. It also is a step in the direction of mob rule, instead of forcing candidates to cobble together a coalition capable of snagging votes from a wide swath of America, instead of their concentrated microcosms.

It protects each and every one of us from a candidate so odious that s/he only appeals to one very concentrated and driven constituency. It protects our rights by forcing a wider appeal, and at least pretending to care about more than population centers.

It's a good idea and it's saving our republic. Going to a popular vote is a great way to really make sure your vote doesn't really matter.

Now as for the states, why not start a ballot initiative to get that changed then? Nothing wrong with that.


The electoral college made sense in the days before mass communication and fast, easy travel. Local people voted for a local person who would then vote for their choice of president. However, now that we're able to hear from the candidates themselves, I think that system is outdated. But I also agree that straight popular vote won't work well either.

What I would propose is a system in which each state had the same number of votes as it currently does in the electoral college system but that those votes are allocated based on popular vote in each congressional district. So, the candidate who won the vote in each district would get that district's vote. Then, the candidate who won the most districts in a state (or possibly the popular vote...have to do some more research on that one) would be awarded two extra votes (those representing the two seats in the senate) for that state.


@gt0163c: But how do you draw the districts? That is the most essential question.


Anybody who thinks the Electoral College is even a slightly good idea needs to watch these videos by C.G.P. Grey:

The Electoral College is a broken system that devalues the individual voter in larger states and way over values the voters in the smaller states. The reason the candidates focus on certain swing states is because it is impractical to put in the amount of effort that would be required to swing a "red" state "blue" (or vice versa).
Take California for example, which has the most Electoral College votes. It is a decidedly "blue" state, which is why neither Obama nor McCain campaigned there a single time in the two months preceding the 2008 election. If a republican candidate could ever win California, without losing any of the "red" states along the way, it would be almost impossible for a democrat to get elected president. But it's just not feasible for this to happen, so the attention goes to the swing states.


@figgers3036: Most of your arguments are completely invalid, based simply on population distribution. If a candidate won every single vote in the 100 most populous cities in the Nation, they would have less than 20% of the popular vote. Since many states, like Florida, often vote almost 50/50, the Electoral College guarantees that 50% of the people don't matter! How is that making sure your vote matters?


@ki4rxm: I would propose to use the congressional districts that are already drawn. Yes there are some issues with those and, in some cases, there would be more pressure to redraw congressional districts. More care would need to be taken so that those lines were drawn fairly. But those lines are already in place and, theoretically, already provide fair representation to the populance in congress. Makes sense to me to use those for a presidential election as well.


Well, only 4 presidents have won by the electoral college without winning the popular vote so far. The last one was George W. Bush, and we all know how well that worked out for our country. /end sarcasm. So I guess I'm for doing away w/ the electoral college as being an antiquated artifact that has outlived any useful purpose it may have once had.
(At the time of posting, Obama is leading the popular vote by about 2.8 million votes.)


I disagree with the assertions that if a popular vote were to be instated that all of the attention would go to the large cities like LA, NY and Chicago. The candidates would be better off targeting areas where they think they can make gains and get the best bang for the campaigning dollar. Remember also that TV commercials cost more to air in Los Angeles than say, Topeka, because there are more potential viewers.

So even if we went by popular vote this year Romney would not have bothered trying in many parts of Los Angeles because they are already rather heavily Democratic. Likewise Obama would have avoided Salt Lake City. What you would see instead though would be more nationally-targeted ads on cable stations such as TBS, USA, ESPN, etc., so that would at least spread the misery equally.


@gt0163c: I'm going to have to disagree with you about assigning electoral votes to congressional districts precisely because of the fighting over gerrymandering that would occur.

There's also the fact that states get electoral college votes equal to the sum of their congressmen plus sentators. So in a state like Alaska with only one congressional district, does a victory mean the victor gets all three votes? And what of California, with 53 districts and 55 electoral votes? It would make things far more fair and balanced (irony not intentional) if the extra two votes were done away with, but the smaller states would complain.


The popular vote would be so much better. My vote never gets counted in my oh-so-wonderful Democratic New York... Then again, I kind of agree with our founding fathers in that the average joe isn't exactly informed enough to make a proper decision, so we need a fix for that. I don't know that the electoral college is that fix though...


If you believe going by popular vote would be more democratic than using the electoral college, you're an idiot. Seriously, you're dumb.


I'm even more confused now.....


Well we (USA) are not a Pure or Direct Democracy we are a Federal Republic.
The countries population is not supposed to pick the president.. The states are supposed to.

The founding fathers understood that unlimited power tends to become tyrannical power.
No single entity, people or part of the government, is supposed to have unlimited power.

The Electoral College is another of the "Checks and Balances" or "Separation of Powers" that our country is built on.

Be happy.. it protects you from mob mentality.


The EC made sense when the population was much smaller, and much less concentrated on the coasts and in urban areas.

Fun fact: the other day on Talk of the Nation (NPR), it was mentioned that during the 1960 campaign Kennedy visited 49 states, and Nixon 50. Can't even imagine that today, although Toledo and Columbus may have seen the candidates 50 times this year!


@elforman: Those fights over congressional districts already occur. Why have two separate sets of fights, two separate sets of divisions? The system is not perfect. No system is. But if the system provides us with congressional districts which are relatively fair and balanced (and maybe I'm just being naive that they are), why would they not be applicable to a presidential election as well?

And you're right that the extra votes, those which represent the seats in the senate, do favor the smaller states when you look at it by as a vote per person factor, but it gives the candidates an extra incentive to campaign in less populated states and areas of states. Without those incentives, we would have issues similar to those which are brought up when a strictly popular vote system is proposed.


The government and voting methodology was originally designed for a country with vast distances, poor transportation and a population that was mostly illiterate. Also, senators were elected by the state legislatures. Congressional election day was up to each state. How the electoral college was chosen was up to the states, and election day and the day the electoral college meets were to allow choosing electors, then the electors meeting in each state and then sending the results to Washington for Congress to select a president.
Even if our current system allows the people to vote, the whole system is antiquated. We need to shorten the election process. Eliminate the big gala parties called conventions. Just have a primary day - Labor Day would do. No one could campaign for the primary before the 4th of July. Two months is enough. Two months to publicize the party candidates, then Election day. Direct voting (no electoral college) with election day a holiday so all can vote.