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Analyzing the Electoral College

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the one-man-2.6-votes dept.

Politics 193

cft_128 writes "David S. Bennahum of has an article that breaks down the numbers in the electoral college, backing up his original 'One Voter One Vote' talk (listen to the mp4). In summary, a vote in Wyoming (has the smallest number of voters per elector) is worth 2.6 votes in Pennsylvania (has the largest number of voters per elector). He has some PDFs of charts, an outline of the talk and a spreadsheet."

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Not the best way to look at it (4, Insightful)

jbarr (2233) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393234)

While this information may be "true", there still remains a misunderstanding about just how a U.S. President is elected. The point of the Electoral College is not to give individual votes different "weights" (though that may be the effect) but to provide a method of giving States fair representation. The general public needs to understand that U.S. Presidents are NOT elected (or defeated) by majority popular vote but that they are voting for Electors who, in turn, cast THEIR votes for the President at the State level. And to further complicate matters, States have different laws governing how electors are assigned and selected.

This is not to say that the Electoral College is the best system, but we need to remember that if switch to a strict popular vote, then Smalltown, USA or Smallstate, USA would never get fair representation.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393550)

This is not to say that the Electoral College is the best system, but we need to remember that if switch to a strict popular vote, then Smalltown, USA or Smallstate, USA would never get fair representation.

Sure they would. Smalltown gets a house rep, Smallstate gets two senators. And both of THOSE are elected by popular votes.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393933)

Sure they would. Smalltown gets a house rep, Smallstate gets two senators. And both of THOSE are elected by popular votes.
Yes, they get House and Senate representation, but I was refering to representation in the Presidential election. If it is left to a strict popular vote in the Presidential election, then more populous cities and states would probably become the sole targets of campaigns because the smaller, less populous cities and states could become proportionatly and statistically irrelevent to the election, which is exactly what the Electoral College was designed to prevent.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394152)

Aaargh.

If 1 vote in New York counted exactly the same as 1 vote in North Dakota, I guarantee you there would still be campaigning going on in ND as well as NY, because reaching voters is a hell of a lot cheaper in rural areas than in urban ones. You could, at a guess, buy advertising that would blanket both Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming for days at the same price as a single ad running on a network channel in NYC in primetime. Tell me that wouldn't make a difference.

Actually, of course, the way things are right now, 1 ND vote does count exactly the same as 1 NY vote: both of them count for exactly zero. The EC system does not provide greater representation to voters in small states. It disenfranchises all voters who don't live in swing states. (And big swing states at that; remember that the vote in 2000 was just as close in NM as in FL ... but nobody cared, because NM wasn't going to decide the election, and everyone knew it.)

Take a look at an electoral college map (i.e., a list of states with electoral votes per state.) It's frightening to realize just how badly a candidate could lose overall, but still take the White House with a few key victories in large swing states.

The EC was a decent compromise two centuries ago. Right now, in the modern political map of the US, it does not work.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394965)

Or swing districts in Maine and Nebraska.

The EC is fine as it is. It helps avoid tyranny of the majority by giving some votes to each state by virtue of population, and some by virtue of being an independent state. (How else do you combine the ideals of House/Senate representation into a singular office?) If it were pure popular vote, rural areas would be completely ignored. As a resident of a rural state, I'd protest this change most strongly. And since you need an amendment to change this, which must be ratified by 3/4 of the states, it's not going to happen.

The only change I'd make in the EC is convincing more states to divvy votes by popular vote.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Drakon (414580) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395391)

Tyranny of the Majority is the best statement about a democracy I've EVER heard.
Or a democratic republic.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395435)

Which is interesting, because Tyranny of the Majority is a stupid concept to begin with invented by an upper class minority bent on abusing the majority.

Chances are- it's the tyranny of the plurality that would win in a true democracy- for no one minority has more than 50% representation.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396394)

Which is interesting, because Tyranny of the Majority is a stupid concept to begin with invented by an upper class minority bent on abusing the majority.

Really? The majority of Americans are for school prayer and against Gay marrage. I guess we should let the mob rule eh?

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396677)

Against the minority trying to rule everybody else? You bet! I'm personally fine with school prayer- even if the teacher is a Satanist- because it at least teaches tolerance of other points of view. I'm fine with being against gay marriage from a cultural evolutionary standpoint- that way leads to a dead end that does not help the species survive. In both of these, the majority is much more wise than our current leadership.

Mob rule is just another FUD like the Tyranny of the Majority. In reality, there is no true majority anywhere in the United States. It would end up being a Coallition of the Plurality at best.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397198)

I'm personally fine with school prayer- even if the teacher is a Satanist- because it at least teaches tolerance of other points of view

Yes at the point of a gun, gret tolerance

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397490)

Yes at the point of a gun, gret tolerance

Not as long as public opinion *also* runs 75% against guns in schools- these things do even themselves out somewhat. Heck- most founder-worshipers are also worshipers of the Free Market God- and that's mob rule also. Why not let the all-knowing *market* decide? How can you support the market telling us what to manufacture, but not who is elected?

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397609)

How can you support the market telling us what to manufacture, but not who is elected?

The market does, even in the "free market" there are rules (you cant legally price gouge). And in the "market" of us politics there are also rules, one of which is that a state gets a number of EV's and that number is constituionally fixed to its size.

Not as long as public opinion *also* runs 75% against guns in schools

Just so you know the point of a gun was refering to the Government forcing prayer in the schools *of any religion*. The governmnets power is in the end excersized by the forceful arrest and detainment of those who do not obey the law. If no sending your kid to school is considered a crime, and you cant afford to select your school and the local public school has mostly baptist teaching you are forcing (in the literal sense of the word) a religion on sombody elses kid.

That is *NOT* the job of the government and no mob has the right to make it the job of the government. This nation was founded on the belief that we have inalienable rights, that are not protected by the government, they are protected *from* the government.

Heck- most founder-worshipers are also worshipers of the Free Market God- and that's mob rule also.

Not in the way you are implying, I believe in the free market but I dont think you should be ablle to sell led tainted milk..

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396615)

Following my own post, I know, but I wanted to be clear.

The only change I'd make in the EC is convincing more states to divvy votes by popular vote.

I think the districted approach is good because it follows the idea that Representatives are for districts. The statewide votes could be used to lean this result toward popular proportionality, since those are the "Senate" votes that are for the entire state.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

CodeMonkey4Hire (773870) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397130)

Ah, by replacing it with the tyranny of the minority?

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396315)

Take a look at an electoral college map (i.e., a list of states with electoral votes per state.) It's frightening to realize just how badly a candidate could lose overall, but still take the White House with a few key victories in large swing states.

I did this analysis already:
http://slashdot.org/~eglamkowski/journal/66227 [slashdot.org]

Presidential candidates currently only need to target roughly 30% of the voters as it is. The real number may be smaller depending on actual percentages of people who vote - I assumed it was the same percentage everywhere which clearly isn't the case.

Without the electoral college, candidates would have to focus on even less than 30% of the voters.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396522)

Without the electoral college, candidates would have to focus on even less than 30% of the voters.

How do you figure??

By your own calculation, the EC allows someone controlling the correct 30% of voters to cement a win. Without the EC, you're only assured of victory after reaching 51% votes.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396554)

Er, brain fart.

Never mind that part of the comment!

Move along here, nothing to see!

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

ElForesto (763160) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396633)

If you don't like how the electors are assigned, I would recommend going to your state legislature. They are responsible for how those votes are assigned. I personally like the Maine system whereby all but two of the votes are assigned to the winners of each of the Congressional districts with the overall winner of the state picking up the last two.

The electoral college does exactly what it was meant to do: it keeps larger states from steamrolling smaller states. That was the same idea behind the US Senate. I've found a lot of those protections built-in to the Constitution, and I would be loathe to get rid of them.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (3, Insightful)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393569)

The point of the Electoral College is not to give individual votes different "weights" (though that may be the effect) but to provide a method of giving States fair representation.

True. But aside from the force of tradition, it's hard to defend why we need to enforce fairness amoung states, since states are not alive. Shouldn't we care more about actual people than states?

Back when the Constitution was proposed, it was seeking approval from each state, so it's understandable that a compromise was made to attract smaller states. But just because we know there was a pragmatic reason for it once, doesn't mean it's the best thing to continue with.

The general public needs to understand that U.S. Presidents are NOT elected (or defeated) by majority popular vote

Everyone (besides a scattering of idiots) knows this. That's not the question. He's not asking how things are now, but how they should be. Imagine you were building a semi-democratic nation from a blank slate (hmm, that's a hobby of President Bush...). Would you try to make each citizen's vote equally powerful, or give extra-weight to the residents of certain areas?

Re:Not the best way to look at it (5, Insightful)

KilobyteKnight (91023) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393826)


True. But aside from the force of tradition, it's hard to defend why we need to enforce fairness amoung states, since states are not alive. Shouldn't we care more about actual people than states?

You fail to mention one of the main reasons the states choose the President. The Federal government is meant to govern the states, not the people. The states are partially autonomous. The reason for that is to get the direct governance closer to the people, where the people have more control over the government directly affecting them.

The US Civil War shifted more power to the federal government; contrary to popular opinion, it wasn't just about slavery. Yet the laws and the Constitution did not change. The years since the Civil War have shown an increasing level of power grabs from the federal government.

The fact that control of the government has been slipping away from the local level is not, I believe, a good reason to say that more control should be shifted that direction.

In contrast to you opinion, I believe the people are better represented by moving the power back down to the State, County, and local level. Let them decide what is best for their State, and the State will represent them Federally.

States vs Fed (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393943)

Mod parent up, please.

It's worth reading, whether you agree, or not.

As a comment on the parent, it's much easier to tear down and replace a state government by voting than it is the federal. The more power that can be pushed down to the states, the more you can directly effect change with your vote.

Keep in mind that a ??AA "takeover" of California mostly affects California, but ??AA "takeover" of the US government affects the rest of us. I know "takeover" is a bit strong, but essentially the various industries *are* attempting to take over those aspects of the federal government that affect their business. In the case of the ??AA, they *have* taken over copyright, and those aspects of IP enforcement that pertain.

Re:States vs Fed (1)

lynx_user_abroad (323975) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395021)

Keep in mind that a ??AA "takeover" of California mostly affects California, but ??AA "takeover" of the US government affects the rest of us.

Except that a ??AA "takeover" would likely be based on Copyright law.

Copyright Law, since the inception of the Constitution, has been Federal. It's the same for all states precisely to prevent someone from getting around a ??AA "takeover" of California by hopping a flight to Nevada.

It get's worse. There is a huge push today to standardize copyright law Globally (to keep people from escaping the wrath of the ??AA by hopping a flight to Hong Kong.

Not advocating, just educating.

Re:States vs Fed (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395202)

I wasn't thinking so much of copyright itself, as the enforcement perversions being layered on top of it. Those could be implemented federally or state-by-state.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394295)

I believe the people are better represented by moving the power back down to the State, County, and local level. Let them decide what is best for their State, and the State will represent them Federally.

That viewpoint supposes (or desires) that the national President is fairly weak. But that isn't the case- he's very powerful, and can make decisions that tremendously influence the people of each state.

When Bush pushes the nation into an Iraqi war, the effort and sacrifice is borne not by the states, but by the people. Does Montana share a bigger proportion of the costs of national-level action than California does? No. Treasure and blood comes from the population as a whole.

If the Presidency were a weak, mostly ceremonial post, then the per-capita unfairness of his selection would be less troublesome.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395119)

When someone joins the military they effectivly become a member of the federal government. An remember its a voluntary military, just because people signed up thinking they wouldn't go anywhere is no excuse. Hell by now a large amount of our military signed up post 9/11 and have no excuse to say they didn't know. Either way if there was a draft I would agree with your statement, but there isn't these people left their states voluntarily.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395499)

Hell by now a large amount of our military signed up post 9/11 and have no excuse to say they didn't know.

Signing up then implies you desired or expected to go to Afganistan, or someplace else where international Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists might hide. But Iraq isn't one of those places. (Yes, there are terrorists in Iraq... now. And yes, they're "international" in some way. But the kinds of guys who can work an insurgency in the desert are completely different from the type of people that could sneak bombs into USA cities)

Either way if there was a draft I would agree with your statement,

It's not just the people, but also the money spent on the war. It comes from federal income taxes. Montana gets a relatively larger amount of control of how those taxes are spent, without needing to increase the amount they pay in.

That's a minor form of taxation without representation.

but there isn't these people left their states voluntarily

No they didn't- at least not all of them. The National Guard, for example, probably only thought they would respond to emergencies inside the USA, and not go off to guard fuel lines in Iraq. The military population in general signed up long before an Iraq occupation was evident, and they had no chance to change their minds later.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396484)

That viewpoint supposes (or desires) that the national President is fairly weak. But that isn't the case- he's very powerful, and can make decisions that tremendously influence the people of each state.

Really? and what exactly can the president do to which congress can not say no?

When Bush pushes the nation into an Iraqi war, the effort and sacrifice is borne not by the states, but by the people. Does Montana share a bigger proportion of the costs of national-level action than California does? No. Treasure and blood comes from the population as a whole.

A war congress had to authorize, the president can not declare or start a war, congress has to ok it.

If the Presidency were a weak, mostly ceremonial post, then the per-capita unfairness of his selection would be less troublesome.

Why do you confuse weak with ceremonial? Are cabinate positions weak? (Yes they cant act w/o presidents ok), are they ceremonial (No they actually do alot of work).

The president cant act without congress.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397056)

Really? and what exactly can the president do to which congress can not say no?

Apparently fight a war- since the Iraq war was supposed to happen only under certain circumstances that were not fullfilled.

Some would say that in fact there was no true authorization for War in Iraq since the President failed to:
1. Go back to the UN and get consensus before we acted.
2. Actually verify the rumors of an Iraqi Nuclear or Biological Warfare Program.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397533)

Apparently fight a war- since the Iraq war was supposed to happen only under certain circumstances that were not fullfilled.

Really? wow can you point the the part of the authority they gave him in which they said you must meet these conditions? Can you point to how he did not meet those conditions.

Congress (the peoples represenatives) really messed up, I would never give a blanket 'authorization' you either say yes were going to war or no were not. This was not the examploe of the president making war, congress made it.

Some would say that in fact there was no true authorization for War in Iraq since the President failed to:
1. Go back to the UN and get consensus before we acted.
2. Actually verify the rumors of an Iraqi Nuclear or Biological Warfare Program.

I have seen many senators and congressmen say this is what they meant but I have never seen it in writing *within* the actual autorization.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Romothecus (553103) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394688)

In contrast to you opinion, I believe the people are better represented by moving the power back down to the State, County, and local level. Let them decide what is best for their State, and the State will represent them Federally.

Except that is not what happens. My congressional district has 90% chance of going Democratic this election, like in all recent elections. However, most other districts in my state are usually Republican. So the state will give all of its electoral votes to a candidate, even though significant groups and communities want it the other way around. Sovreignty ultimately lies with the people, so the States should at least be required to represent the interests of their citizens as accurately as possible. Besides apportioning electoral votes according to district, this should also include subtracting 2 votes from every state - sovreignty doesn't reside in the State, it resides in the people. I don't see anything wrong with virtual representation in general, as long as it is conducted accurately and fairly. Which right now it is not.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Petrox (525639) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395206)

The US Civil War shifted more power to the federal government; contrary to popular opinion, it wasn't just about slavery. Yet the laws and the Constitution did not change. The years since the Civil War have shown an increasing level of power grabs from the federal government.

Except that the laws and the Constitution did change: as a condition for re-entry into the Union after the Civil War, the southern states were required to ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the constitution. The 14th amendment in particular starts with the some of the most important language directed at states (rather than the federal govt.):

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Before this was added to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and other amendments were thought to apply only to the federal government and not to the states. Since then, this amendment has been the primary impetus for 'incorporating' the other amendments so as to apply to the states.

(IANAL, but I will be soon! ; ) )

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

b-baggins (610215) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396088)

The biggest erosion of States' rights occurred when the consitution was amended to allow Senators to be picked by direct election instead of being appointed by state legislatures.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (3, Insightful)

barawn (25691) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393865)

True. But aside from the force of tradition, it's hard to defend why we need to enforce fairness amoung states, since states are not alive. Shouldn't we care more about actual people than states?

No.

For one, it avoids tyranny of the majority - something that's very, very difficult to deal with. For two, it allows a more even distribution of resources, and allows the country to utilize its resources efficiently.

The problem is pretty simple - people in communities tend to vote similarly, because they have the same concerns. People in California are less likely to be concerned about farmers in Iowa, for instance. Equal voting would mean that California would far, far outrank Iowa (more than it does). But that would also imply that Iowa's not important - and it is. Neglecting Iowa at the expense of California would mean that you'd essentially create a mecca of civilization, surrounded by an expanse of decaying towns.

This is exactly the case in a lot of other countries - specifically, Argentina, where Buenos Aires is akin to a first-world country, and everywhere else might as well be a third world country.

(Point of note: it only ensures fairness among states in that it gives two votes per state, and has a minimum number of representatives of one. Other than that, population reigns. Hence the reason why Wyoming ranks so high - because the population's nothing.)

Re:Not the best way to look at it (4, Interesting)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394108)

For one, it avoids tyranny of the majority

Funny thing is that the Electoral College system creates tyranny of the majority- within each state.

Let's use Texas as an example (although something similar happens in most states). There are a majority of Republicans and a minority of Democrats. When they vote for President, however, ALL the electoral votes go to Bush, instead of the Democrats sending their 30% to Kerry.

But that would also imply that Iowa's not important - and it is.

If Iowa was really important, then the voters in California would see that (especially when they start paying those farmers for food).

Let's think of some other cases where something important is represented by only a minority of the population...

You know what? I think that the USA is unfairly biased towards the uneducated. Equal voting means that high-school graduates far, far outrank PhDs. But that implies that learned people aren't important- and they are. Neglecting collegians in favor of ignoramuses would mean creating a blanket of idiocy, sinking the country towards the lowest common denominator. So I suggest multipling each person's vote by the number of diploma's she's recieved.

Also, CEOs and entrepeneurs are the drivers of economic growth- they push the creation of wealth that benefits everyone. Let's give business owners one extra vote per $250,000 annual income.

How can you attack my proposals, while defending your own? They have the same basis- a person deserves more power, because he's got more of something- real estate, or education, or money, or whatever.

Neglecting Iowa at the expense of California would mean that you'd essentially create a mecca of civilization, surrounded by an expanse of decaying towns.

If that's where fairness leads, then so be it. If equal voting power and equal ability to participate in the free market aren't enough to give those towns viability, then let them die.

PS. The use of the word "expense" in your post was completely nonsensical. In that sentence, "at the expense" should've been "in favor".

Re:Not the best way to look at it (2, Insightful)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394840)

Funny thing is that the Electoral College system creates tyranny of the majority- within each state. [...] There are a majority of Republicans and a minority of Democrats. When they vote for President, however, ALL the electoral votes go to Bush, instead of the Democrats sending their 30% to Kerry.

This is not the fault of the EC itself. This is a fault at the state level, because each state decides how to assign the EC votes. Nebraska and Maine divvy the votes proportionally to the popular vote. Colorado is considering it.

So petition your state legislature! It's easier to make a change at the state level than at the federal. That is, in fact, the primary reason for federalism (as opposed to nationalism) - it's supposed to keep more power at the state and local levels rather than centralizing it.

If equal voting power and equal ability to participate in the free market aren't enough to give those towns viability, then let them die.

Fine, if California (and the other big states) will let Iowa (and the other small states) secede when they start getting screwed. That was the original idea with a federal system, too. States (especially New England) threatened secession often in the first half century of the union. I bet if they tried today, CA/NY/TX/etc would suddenly feel that those states are important enough to keep them in the union, by force if necessary.

You can't just completely ignore people's concerns because they're a minority. You're arguing for tyranny of the majority, the primary reason that pure democracy doesn't work!

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Scott Wood (1415) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395187)

Nebraska and Maine divvy the votes proportionally to the popular vote.

No, they don't; they just push the winner-takes-all scheme down to the individual congressional district level. If both of Maine's districts vote 51% for Kerry, Kerry will get all 4 votes. Likewise, Nebraska's 5 votes will all go to Bush, even if 20-30% vote for Kerry, because Bush will win each district.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396406)

OK, I wrote that a little sloppy as my thoughts were getting ahead of my fingers. The EC votes are granted by district, not proportionally.

One of my suggested refinements to the districted allocation system is to use the 2 state-at-large votes to tweak the results closer to true proportionality. Thus if Bush carries all 3 districts and Kerry only gets 20% in the popular vote, he'd still get one of those 2 EC votes.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395465)

That is, in fact, the primary reason for federalism (as opposed to nationalism) - it's supposed to keep more power at the state and local levels rather than centralizing it.

If so- federalism has been a miserable failure. Never at any other time in history has the central government had more power over our lives. And the central government is controlled by the same people who decide what franchises get to put stores in your local mall.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396269)

Thank Abraham Lincoln for invading the CSA when they wanted to peacefully secede. The passage of the 17th Amendment pretty much cemented the death of federalism. Federalism worked quite well before this point. Far more concern went into local and state politics than far-off Washington.

Federalism works very well as a concept, it's just that it's been destroyed in the US. We're now a federal republic in name only.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396619)

Actually, I'd say we've grown into the name- the federal republic has gained control over everything, just like the anti-federalists warned.

The more I read about Abraham Lincoln- the more I see even his anti-slavery movement as a fascist cheap-labor movement in reality. It's been pointed out before, by better men than I am, that the modern minimum wage actually allows the upper class to be even less responsible for the welfare of the working class than slavery was. At least a slave owner had to provide food, clothing, and shelter- and if he wanted to protect his investment, medical care as well.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395558)

This is not the fault of the EC itself. This is a fault at the state level, because each state decides how to assign the EC votes.

No, it's the nearly inevitable result of the EC. Given that states are controlled by humans, and all humans want power, then states will choose the method that gives them the most power. Winner-Takes-All allocation does this. Texas is controlled by Republicans, therefore the assignment of Electoral Votes is entirely up to them. Will they give all 34 to Bush, or send 11 to Kerry out of regard for the 30% vote he gets in the state? Hmm... tough question.

So petition your state legislature! It's easier to make a change at the state level than at the federal.

For many things, that's true. But looking at the details, this time [slashdot.org] isn't one them [slashdot.org] .

The only reasonable approach is a widespread campaign for public support, followed by a national amendment to impose one allocation regime on all states. It's a case of "Ok, I'll lower my gun, if you put yours down at the same time"

You can't just completely ignore people's concerns because they're a minority.

"Power in proportion to your population" is somewhat different from "completely ignore"

the primary reason that pure democracy doesn't work!

No. The prime reason is that it's overly time-consuming to hold a nationwide election each time we need to tow a parked car.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396445)

The proper approach is to eliminate popular election of electors. It wasn't the intended method of choosing electors in the first place.

While we're at it, toss the 17th and once again give the state governments a say in the federal government!

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396551)

For many things, that's true. But looking at the details, this time isn't one them.

That's why it's important to elect ppl to your legislature that are more concerned with doing the right thing than doing the selfish thing. Finding ppl like that, who won't be swayed with the power once they get in office, are hard to find.

"Power in proportion to your population" is somewhat different from "completely ignore"

Often it amounts to the same. If "your side" can carry only 40% of the vote, do you think you get 40% of your agenda enacted? No. Not if the other 60% wants to do something completely different. They can safely ignore you while they vote for what they want. There have to be safeguards built into the system, such as requiring supermajorities on some votes or building a system that requires "equality" in more than one way of looking at it, to counteract this.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

barawn (25691) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397696)

"Power in proportion to your population" is somewhat different from "completely ignore"

If everyone in California thought independently, I'd agree with you.

However, the simple fact that distinct mindsets exist in certain areas (why does Bush always win certain states? because the population in that area has concerns/beliefs that mirror his. The area drives the mindset) indicates that this isn't true.

followed by a national amendment to impose one allocation regime on all states

What if one community doesn't want to have that kind of voting? What if people want to live in California because California is a "winner take all" kind of state?

Re:Not the best way to look at it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10395800)

I find it ironic that many people angry about the electoral college are the same people that call for protections for minorities in our population -- be they minorities of ethnicity or sexuality.


If you feel that the potential of the majority in urban areas to walk all over the minority in rural areas, with no protection for the minority group, then shouldnt you agree that minorities in general should be walked all over? They aren't the majority after all, so shouldn't they be less important?


just a thought.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

barawn (25691) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397644)


Funny thing is that the Electoral College system creates tyranny of the majority- within each state.


Depends on how the state wants to distribute its votes. The Constitution leaves that open to the states to decide.

It's less worrying to have state's decisions be driven by the majority than it is to have the country's decisions be driven by the majority. States are at least geographically close. One can't expect the worries of the population of Maine to correspond with the worries of the population of Hawaii, but it's reasonable to expect the concerns of the population of San Francisco to correspond to the concerns of the population of Los Angeles.


Let's use Texas as an example (although something similar happens in most states). There are a majority of Republicans and a minority of Democrats. When they vote for President, however, ALL the electoral votes go to Bush, instead of the Democrats sending their 30% to Kerry.


This is not a fault of the Electoral College. It is a fault of Texas, which decided that all of its electoral votes go to the winner of the popular vote. Other states do it differently. I won't argue if you try to say that states should do a better job at breaking up electoral votes, possibly by district. But that just redefines what "community" is, that's all.

If Iowa was really important, then the voters in California would see that (especially when they start paying those farmers for food).

In a perfect world, the sun would shine every day and I could pluck money from the money tree. And in that world, what you say would be true, and no one would have to worry about the tyranny of the majority, because the tyranny of the majority really would be the will of the people.

We don't live in a perfect world, and the tyranny of the majority is real.

PS. The use of the word "expense" in your post was completely nonsensical. In that sentence, "at the expense" should've been "in favor".

And you mean "complete nonsense", not "completely nonsensical", which is poor grammar. :) But yah, it was a typo.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394062)

Back when the Constitution was proposed, it was seeking approval from each state, so it's understandable that a compromise was made to attract smaller states. But just because we know there was a pragmatic reason for it once, doesn't mean it's the best thing to continue with.

Well at least you know why it was done, not consider the consiquences of undoing it. You are essentially breaking the contract which forms this nation and every small state would wonder why join whatever replaces it?

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394194)

AC: every small state would wonder why join whatever replaces it?

States don't have brains, they can't "wonder" anything. By contrast, citizens do have brains, and many of them are wondering why they should continue to respect a national political system that is unfairly biased against their desires.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (2, Insightful)

jbarr (2233) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394300)

Imagine you were building a semi-democratic nation from a blank slate (hmm, that's a hobby of President Bush...) Would you try to make each citizen's vote equally powerful, or give extra-weight to the residents of certain areas?
I think we can all agree that everyone's vote
should count equally in an election. However, in this new blank-slate nation, what happens when Campaigns and the Media target only the largest, statistically relevent areas and ignore the less populated and statistically less relevent areas? The individual's votes would count either more or less depending on where they live. If you live in a statistically irrelevent area, then your vote certainly wouldn't count as much as others. A system like the Electoral College tries to remove the statistical irrelevence of smaller populations.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (2, Insightful)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394391)

But aside from the force of tradition, it's hard to defend why we need to enforce fairness amoung states, since states are not alive. Shouldn't we care more about actual people than states?

Our republic is built on a principle called "balance of power". There is a balance of power between the People, the States, and the Federal government. The People stand no chance against a corrupt Federal government without the States. The Federal government defends the rights of the people against the individual State goverments. The People elect the officials in the government (and make up the armed militia, just in case the officials forget who's boss).

It is the States, not the People, who elect the President. The Electoral College compromises between giving each State a vote and allowing the aggregate popular vote to determine the winner.

The Electoral College effectively protects the smaller States from the tyrrany of the larger ones. Without it, a candidate could campaign only in the coastal states, where most of the people are, and ignore the inland areas.

Suppose a candidate did that. He or she could promise water and electricity to California, and ignore Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico (where the water and electricity would originate). The interests of Midwestern farmers would be ignored.

The Electoral College is a wise system, and I think the best system. It pools voters by region, so that the interests of all the people in a region are given all of the weight of that region. You and your neighbors all vote; your collective decision speaks with the authority of all of you.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (2, Insightful)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394675)

The Electoral College effectively protects the smaller States from the tyrrany of the larger ones. Without it, a candidate could campaign only in the coastal states, where most of the people are, and ignore the inland areas.

No. Even with the current Electoral College, anyone who wins both coasts wins the presidency. Coastal states have more than 270 electoral votes, which is enough to defeat all inland places. (If you counted the Great Lakes as coastline, it'd be even more lopsided)

It is the States, not the People, who elect the President.

The people doing the voting don't much like that idea. If they really wanted it left to the State, they'd leave it in the hands of their governor or legislature, instead of going through the big expense of a wide-scale election.

ignore Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico (where the water and electricity would originate).

We've got a system to allow for the providers of a good or service to be compensated- it's called money.

The interests of Midwestern farmers would be ignored.

They are a small minority- why should they be disproportionately powerful? Let's play word replacement:

The EC protects the sexual perverts from the tyranny of the mainstream. Without it, a candidate could campaign only to heterosexuals, which most of the people are, and ignore the gay community. Suppose a candidate did that. He could promise marriage and tax breaks to heteros, and ignore gays. The interests of gays would be ignored.

(There are many less-silly examples I could've chosen. Bear in mind that as technology progresses, it becomes increasingly likely that a community with a common need will be geographically disperesed)

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395807)

With the EC, winning all of the coastal states is one way to play it; without the EC, it would be the only thing that mattered.

>The people doing the voting don't much like that idea.

The people are not always right. Popular will swings back and forth, moving this way and that, sometimes tending to the extreme. The EC system tends to minimize the tyranny of the majority, which you obviously agree is something to minimize.

Your argument about the EC and protecting homosexuals is an obvious red herring; we are talking only about geography, not any other factor distinguishing one person from another. The EC doesn't have anything to do with differences between people, just between regions. The individuals vote, but the groups decide.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396443)

With the EC, winning all of the coastal states is one way to play it; without the EC, it would be the only thing that mattered.

False. Without it, you could win one coast and not the other, for example. Just like you could today- 2 votes added to every state just isn't enough of a difference to make any major pattern succeed or fail. Nobody can ever win without serious coastal support, and Bush gets everything from Virgina southward.

I've done the math, and even if we removed the "Senator bonus" within the next week, it still wouldn't push Kerry over the top. (That would make it 179-247, instead of 207-317, which is the current projection)

Re:Not the best way to look at it (2, Insightful)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396757)

Without the EC, you don't get 100% of any one state. You only get the votes you get. There are lots and lots more votes to be had on the coasts, so that's where the candidates would stay (unless, e.g., there were some event of national interest taking place inland).

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

lynx_user_abroad (323975) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394406)

But aside from the force of tradition, it's hard to defend why we need to enforce fairness amoung states, since states are not alive. Shouldn't we care more about actual people than states?

It's not just tradition here, it's history.

Back in 1776, it was the Colonies collectively declaring Independence from England rather than the U.S.A. declaring it. Back then, we had a situation rather similar(ish) to how the individual nations in Europe today are forming the European Union. The States were to be granted a wide range of liberty in establishing customs, laws, etc. Only those things which had to be done at a Federal level for structural reasons (such as a common monetary unit for commerce reasons, and full-faith-and-credit for legislative reasons, etc) were granted to the Federal Government.

Up through the Civil War, individuals thought of themselves as citizens of a State more than citizens of a country called the U.S.A.

This is what the Civil War was fought for, not slavery. It was a disagreement over whether the States should be allowed more complete control over their own affairs (on the Confederacy side, the Southern States) or whether the Federal Government should have more power (on the Union side, or the Northern States.) It's just that Slavery was one of those issues that had to go one way or the other.

It was only after the Civil War that people began to talk about themselves as citizens of The United States of America.

So it made sense prior to the Civil War to have the leader of the Federal Government elected by the States (Electorial College) because a private citizen's life was much more closely influenced by their own particular State Governor than by the President.

Back then, the Federal Government didn't have the power to tax Individual Incomes.

So, if we wanted to speculate, we could extrapolate this out in the logical directions. Would it make sense to have the head of the United Nations elected by popular vote, and to grant that organization the power to tax individuals in order to solve it's perpetual finance problems? Do we want to enforce a world where popular cultural beliefs of the majority become the law of the land for all?

History shows us that our forefathers asked these same questions, explored many answers (including some incredibly stupid, costly, and eventually discarded ones) and reached the (not quite perfect yet) answers we have today.

This is reflected in our Constitution as well: the First Amendment bans Congress from establishing a Religion, but does not ban the States from doing that. The Second bans everyone from making laws about who can keep and bear arms.

Times have changed, and our laws and culture have evolved as well. Have they kept in step? Are we headed the right direction? My opinion is no more correct than anyone elses.

Unless they don't study history and don't vote. In which case they don't have an opinion.

Would you try to make each citizen's vote equally powerful, or give extra-weight to the residents of certain areas?

There has been considerable discussion about a plan to break Iraq (or allow Iraq to break itself) into three seperate political regions (or States): Sunni Arab, Shi'ite, and Kurd. It seems to me, if we were really concerned about people, fairness, and cultural respect, this is what we should be heading for. Instead, we're concerned about Oil, political power, and maintaining control so this will never happen.

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

SPIDER_UK (817890) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394645)

"Imagine you were building a semi-democratic nation from a blank slate (hmm, that's a hobby of President Bush...). Would you try to make each citizen's vote equally powerful, or give extra-weight to the residents of certain areas?" Well I'd secure the agreement of those I could then I'd take a gun and point it at the rest and say join me or else.

Minority rights (1)

GCP (122438) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397225)

Imagine you were building a semi-democratic nation from a blank slate ... Would you try to make each citizen's vote equally powerful, or give extra-weight to the residents of certain areas?

Probably some version of the latter. I think people misunderstand that the USA (which was originally spelled with a lowercase 'u' in united) was intended to be better than a democracy because it included numerous checks and balances against the potential tyranny of pure democracies.

The electoral voting system, combined with putting almost all important laws at the state and not federal level, was one of those checks designed to protect minority rights. You could voluntarily associate with any state you felt matched your personal "culture" and the more numerous people who didn't match you would have a harder time voting to confiscate your possessions, enforcing their lifestyle preferences on you, and so on.

It was designed as a protection of diversity, and any form of protection of minority rights against a majority must, by definition, end up giving extra weight to some votes over others in at least some circumstances.

It seems to me that if you are going to do this, the fairest system is one that is attached to physical locations and not personal traits such as race. Instead of being born with inalienable extra rights relative to others, you can gain them or lose them by moving elsewhere, which all are free to do.

I'm not saying, though, that the electoral system currently in use is the best way, just that it is not the bogeyman that simple-minded analysis often portrays.

Electoral College Protects Un-hyphenated Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10394277)

The electoral college has an additional function that will come into play in the future when Hispanics (of whom most are derived from illegal aliens) overwhelm the United States of America.

In the past and in the present, the majority of people is descended from the Europeans. Although prejudice and racism exist among these people, they are nowhere near as bad as the prejudice and racism that exist among Hispanics, Indians, and Chinese. Whenever the dying Ku Klux Klan hold a demonstration, plenty of Americans of European ancestry hold counter demonstrations.

I have never heard anyone talking about the greatness of "White Culture". I have heard of people talking about the greatness of "Western Culture". Here, "Western" is a cultural term, and anyone can be Western (including Hispanics and Chinese) although most Hispanics and Chinese reject being Western.

Now, consider Hispanics. They often talk about "Hispanic Culture" and "Chinese Culture". These bigots use "Hispanic" and "Chinese" in the sense of genetics. An American of Vietnamese ancestry is not welcome in these other cultures because, according to Hispanics, a Vietnamese cannot be Hispanic or Chinese.

The Hispanics pride themselves on racist organizations like La Raza, the Hispanic equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan. To understand the nature of La Raza, I offer the following quote from a speech by Jose Angel Gutierrez, professor at the University of Texas at Arlington and founder of La Raza (short for La Raza Unida Party). He gave the speech at UC Riverside in 1/1995.

The border remains a military zone. We remain a hunted people. Now you think you have a destiny to fulfill in the land that historically has been ours for forty thousand years. And we're a new Mestizo nation. And they want us to discuss civil rights. Civil rights. What law made by white men to oppress all of us of color, female and male. This is our homeland. We cannot - we will not- and we must not be made illegal in our own homeland. We are not immigrants that came from another country to another country. We are migrants, free to travel the length and breadth of the Americas because we belong here. We are millions. We just have to survive. We have an aging white America. They are not making babies. They are dying. It's a matter of time. The explosion is in our population.

You can also listen to the an actual audio clip of the quote above [ccir.net] . There is an important web site [ccir.net] with other quotes and audio clips.

Is anyone shocked by La Raza and the Hispanics who support La Raza? La Raza is the Hispanic equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan.

I am extremely concerned that La Raza will become the "one party" that controls America in 2025. Our refusal to control our borders has led to an explosive political dynamic that will be hostile to anyone who is not Hispanic.

How will the electoral college come into play? Consider the scenario where Hispanics (and Indians and Chinese) dominate the scene in the USA. For example, suppose that the people who consider themselves un-hyphenated Americans are now isolated as simply majorities in North Dakota, Washington, and Michigan. The rest of the country is dominated by hyphenated Americans like the Hispanics (and Indians and Chinese). Well, with the electoral college, the un-hyphenated Americans have a chance to protect (e.g. filibuster in the Senate) their rights in Congress. Without the electoral college, the Chinese would just rape un-hyphenated Americans.

Just look at the "Politics" discussion forum to understand how Hispanics, Indians, and Chinese act. Too many moderators mod an article based on the viewpoint in the article. For example, if there is an article condemning the Chinese for occupying Tibet, then you can be sure that someone will mod that article down as a "Troll" or "Flamebait". The phenomenon also occurs when you write an article opposing H-1Bs.

Often, race politics is rearing its ugly head. A Hispanic moderator will mod down articles supporting the deportation of illegal aliens. Indian moderators will mod down articles opposing H-1Bs.

These moderators hate people like Bill O'Reilly because he calls the situation for what it is (most of the time). Don't allow the moderators on Slashdot to bother you. Do what I do. I call radio/television talk shows and write letters to the editors of journals. These moderators cannot shut you up in those forums.

If you hate[1] what is happening to our nation, the USA, then write the following on the November ballot.

president: Bill O'Reilly [billoreilly.com]
vice-president: Tammy Bruce [tammybruce.com]

[1] The best way to fight race politics is to vote against any politician who brings his "ethnic" identity into the race. You often hear Indian politicians start by saying, "As a person with a proud Indian heritage..."

Re:Not the best way to look at it (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394412)

switch to a strict popular vote, then Smalltown, USA or Smallstate, USA would never get fair representation.

At best, that's a circular argument- it hinges on non-standard definition of fair. In a dictionary, "fair" means "free from favoritism or preference". You are claiming that giving them voting power based only on the number of people would be "unfair"- but that is actually expressing favoritism right there. Looked at objectively, 3 votes beating 5 votes is plainly less fair than the alternative.

Even defenders of the system must agree that it's unfair- but they claim the unfairness is justified by other factors, and that Smalltown deserves the bias.

It's worse than that. (2, Interesting)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393259)

Actually, because of the winner-take-all nature of the elections, an individual vote in Wyoming has essentially no chance of counting (since the state isn't a swing state), but in Pennsylvania it has a far greater chance of counting.

Re:It's worse than that. (4, Funny)

dario_moreno (263767) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393417)


that is, depending on the whim of the Diebold machine operator, of course.

one of the points of the electoral college (5, Informative)

mzs (595629) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393333)

The smaller more rural states were concerned about being dominated by the larger states with cities in the national arena. It was seen that the interests of the rural and city populations would be different. The scheme of the Senate with two votes per state regardless of population and the two to three bonus (there are no fractional electors after-all, consider this as round-off error depending on where the state falls in relation to other states in the last census) electors for smaller states was devised in part because of that concern.

David is from NY, a state with a number of large cities and he feels underrepresented, but consider the point of view of farmers and ranchers. We can have raging debates ad nausea for example about whether the federal government does too much or too little to assist farmers and ranchers, but the fact of the matter is that if it were not for the systems in place to grant disproportionate weight to rural areas, there would indeed be less aid.

Also, is there really a surprise that cities tend Democratic and rural areas Republican? Again this seems to be sour grapes from David based on his comments.

Re:one of the points of the electoral college (2, Informative)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393876)

the fact of the matter is that if it were not for the systems in place to grant disproportionate weight to rural areas, there would indeed be less aid.

The nation is full of minority groups that could potentially get more aid if only they had a disproportionate voting weight.

Race, religion, gender, education, employment, income- we don't allow any of those categorizations to change the strength of someone's vote. Why should rural residents be special?

Re:one of the points of the electoral college (1)

mzs (595629) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394481)

we don't allow any of those categorizations to change the strength of someone's vote. Why should rural residents be special?

Because there was a desire for the states to unite. In order to unite the more populous states had to reach a compromise with the less populous (and more rural) states, so that the union would even be a possibility. Consider this in the same light as the northern states that allowed the 3/5 compromise so that the southern states would be willing to join the union.

Re:one of the points of the electoral college (1)

cft_128 (650084) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397186)

Because there was a desire for the states to unite. In order to unite the more populous states had to reach a compromise with the less populous (and more rural) states, so that the union would even be a possibility. Consider this in the same light as the northern states that allowed the 3/5 compromise so that the southern states would be willing to join the union.

Well fine, so then lets get rid of the EC then. The 3/5 compromise was removed.

Re:one of the points of the electoral college (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10393970)

Also, is there really a surprise that cities tend Democratic and rural areas Republican?
Really, I am surprised that practically anybody votes for the republican party. Many rural voters consider themselves 'conservative'. What's so conservative about a huge budget deficit. Most farmers don't live on dividends or cap gains, but now those are at 15%, which is much less than anybody who actually produces something for a living. Typically most conservities are against involvement in foriegn wars, free trade, imports. About the only conservative value that the Republicans carry on their adgenda is the 'Guns for fetuses' issue. Other than that there is some wording about "Family Values" (you know like shipping daddy's job to India) and how 'Marriage' is so weak that allowing Gays to marry will destroy the institution.

Horseshit. (1)

Fished (574624) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396564)

Really, I am surprised that practically anybody votes for the republican party. Many rural voters consider themselves 'conservative'. What's so conservative about a huge budget deficit.
You might start by realizing that most conservatives are very troubled by the deficit (Rush's rants notwithstanding). However, they recognize that this might eb a short term problem, caused by a weak economy (which got weak under clinton) and terrorist attacks (which were planned and set in place and could only have been prevented under clinton.)
Most farmers don't live on dividends or cap gains, but now those are at 15%, which is much less than anybody who actually produces something for a living.
I actually wonder whether you've ever even been on a real, working farm long enough to understnad the economics involved.

Farming is a capital intensive business, and most farmers who are actually making a living at it have very large capital assets - that is, their farms, their farm equipment. Some of that equipment depreciates, but a lot of it (buildings, silo's, etc.) appreciates. I'm not sure, but I believe livestock transactions can also count as capital gains (i.e. buy a little cow, grow it, and sell it.)

You're forgetting another huge deal for farmers: environmental laws. Liberals tend to be entirely focused on mediapathic factories belching smoke when they pass these things, without realizing that agricultural runoff is the biggest source of water polution, with agricultural operations also being potentially a major source of air polution. Ever smell a pig farm? Farmers deal with environmental regulations all year long, and it's not surprising that they would prefer not to have too many of them.

As for tax rates, you need to start reading a newspaper and stop reading JohnKerry.com. The bottom marginal tax rate is 10% - a cut from 15% pushed through by Bush. What with tax credits and all, most working Americans who woul d pay the 10% rate actually have a negative tax rate - they got more money back than they paid.

Typically most conservities are against involvement in foriegn wars, free trade, imports.
s/conservatives/libertarians/

You'd do well not to confuse the two.

About the only conservative value that the Republicans carry on their adgenda is the 'Guns for fetuses' issue. Other than that there is some wording about "Family Values" (you know like shipping daddy's job to India) and how 'Marriage' is so weak that allowing Gays to marry will destroy the institution.
That's really not the argument among any conservative with half a brain. The argument is that we give special and exceptional protections to marriage since it results in children, who must be protected. "Gay marriage" furthers the incorrect progressive notion that marriage is about personal gratification rather than social cooperation.

Re:one of the points of the electoral college (1)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394511)

David is from NY, a state with a number of large cities and he feels underrepresented, but consider the point of view of farmers and ranchers. We can have raging debates ad nausea for example about whether the federal government does too much or too little to assist farmers and ranchers, but the fact of the matter is that if it were not for the systems in place to grant disproportionate weight to rural areas, there would indeed be less aid.

Actually, there are a lot of rural areas on New York State. California, another state probably thought of as "urban" by people who haven't lived there, has one of the largest agricultural industries in the U.S. The EC effectively disenfranchises these rural areas because they happen to be in the same state as large cities; thus, unlike, say, Iowa, rural interests don't have a majority in that state. Is that fair, in your model?

You can talk about rural-vs.-urban or small-state-vs.-large-state all you want, but the elephant in the living room of the electoral college is that the current shape and populations of U.S. states is the result of historic accident, not logical planning. It's not like all the farmers are in one state and all the city-dwellers in another. You can discuss general categories of "farming states" or "manufacturing states", but the truth is that every state has at least a little of every category; as a result, any model where you try to break influence down into actual social categories breaks down because of all the exceptions, and you just end up with the truth, which is that certain particular states have more voting power than certain other particular states.

Under a one-person-one-vote system, farmers in California and Wyoming have equal voting power. City-dwellers in Texas and D.C. have equal voting power. Period.

Also, is there really a surprise that cities tend Democratic and rural areas Republican? Again this seems to be sour grapes from David based on his comments.

Gosh, and I don't suppose any Republican is really supporting the EC for this exact same reason, do you?

jf

Re:one of the points of the electoral college (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395310)

The EC effectively disenfranchises these rural areas because they happen to be in the same state as large cities

Very true- the Chinatown [imdb.com] effect.

You can talk about rural-vs.-urban or small-state-vs.-large-state all you want, but the elephant in the living room of the electoral college is that the current shape and populations of U.S. states is the result of historic accident, not logical planning.

True. The best example of this is to count the number of West Coast states (3) versus East Coast (15). That's 24 extra Electoral (and Senatorial) votes to the original colonies, just because they happen to be older and smaller.

I propose that to correct this unfairness, each Senator should be assigned a voting power multiplier proportional to the square miles of land in his home state. Similarly, the Electoral Votes for each state should be equal to (X * population + Y * acreage), instead of (X * population + 2) as it is today.

At least, it would be entertaining to see a spreadsheet of how those results played out. Alaska would suddenly have some swagger!!

Gosh, and I don't suppose any Republican is really supporting the EC for this exact same reason, do you?

I'd like to see a Republican propose dividing Montana into 25 new states, each with the land area of Rhode Island.

Re:one of the points of the electoral college (1)

mzs (595629) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396708)

Coming from a person who lived more than twenty years in Illinois and California I see exactly your points. Both states have large agricultural areas but tend to be dominated by large urban areas in national and statewide elections. (Well now I was generalizing, it IS more sophisticated than that in practice.) I agree it is in fact bad in many states for the rural areas where the more densely populated centers tend to dominate politics, the very issue that the Connecticut compromise addressed so long ago. Yet in Illinois there is enough population (and agribusiness) outside of the Chicagoland area that to a large extent the interests of the farming areas are represented better than they would be otherwise. (At least in the issues directly related to farming, other issues such as schools and roads are a constant source of contention between the two areas.)

I was looking at the issue from a historical perspective and noting that by ignoring it completely this would hurt rural areas because they would be out numbered by the more populous centers and I completely missed the issue that by now there are many states where the old distinction between city and rural has become problematic. Thanks for pointing that out to me. The problem is that I still believe that it IS important to somehow protect the interests of farmers (I grew-up with too many corn, soybean, and dairy farmer friends to ignore this) otherwise the interests of rural areas would be largely ignored. Simply adopting a majority system would not address this at all.

Maybe someone has an idea of how to address this. How could any fair system be adopted when it means that those states that currently have 'too much' influence would lose that? Possibly there is a way to still protect the rural areas from the city centers but have it reflect the current boundaries?

Yet another Mobocrat (5, Insightful)

CodeWanker (534624) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393374)

The electoral college is designed to defend our Federal system: a nation made up of separate states. Saying that the electoral college is not fair is like saying the bicameral legislature is not fair: after all, why don't we trust the house of representatives to make laws free from the interference of the inordinately powerful votes of the small states' senators?

The argument this guy is making ignores the fact that our system is based on one of the most successful compromises in history: many disparate states sacrificing some aspects of sovereignty to form a single nation. Our constitution is set up so that the states choose the president, not the undifferentiated mass of the people. That means that there is intrinsic power in being a state, no matter how small. Article 2 section 1 clause 2 of the united states constitution determines how members of the electoral college are chosen: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.

So you see, the number is driven primarily by the population of the state (as the number of the representatives of the lower house of congress is) with a guaranteed minimum of votes to make sure each state gets a say in the process.

Arguing for a number driven entirely by popular vote ignores the realities of separate states in our Federation, and invites secession and the possible dissolution of our nation.

For the slower folks out there, I'll put the punchline here: the dissolution of the United States of America would be so bad for the stability, prosperity, and standard of living for the people of Earth that there aren't words strong enough to convey it.

Re:Yet another Mobocrat (1)

joebellis (788460) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393598)

Excellent comments - One additional thought regarding the appointment of electors, the state legislatures should adopt the model used by Nebraska and Maine and have the elector tried to the congressional district, with to at-large electors that would represent the senate seats. Using this model would allow every voter the exact same representation - three electoral votes. In order for this to occur the other 48 states would have to eliminate their "winner take all" model.

Re:Yet another Mobocrat (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393819)

One additional thought regarding the appointment of electors, the state legislatures should adopt the model used by Nebraska and Maine and have the elector tried to the congressional district,

Sure, they should do that, but they won't. There are a lot of people who've got an unfair amount of power, and they should willingly give it up for the sake of everyone else, but don't hold your breath waiting.

The only reasonable way to change the allocation of electoral votes is a constitutional amendment. Leaving it up to the states won't work, because the people of those state's will not [slashdot.org] voluntarily reduce [slashdot.org] their influence in presidential elections.

Re:Yet another Mobocrat (1)

Robert The Coward (21406) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396191)

That is the best system but it has to go thought politcal partys 1st. In the state of Maryland the EC goes Dem. most of the time. Althought half or our congressmen are rep. but the areas that go Dem. go with such a majorty that our Sentors and Gov. all almost alwas Dem. If they moved from a winner take all to the system that Maine uses then the Dem. would lost almost 4 or 5 EC votes for this state because of this the party in control of the state wont let that change. If I lived in a state that goes most rep. I would want that change either as I would lose EC votes. I agree that it is the fairiest system and would make it more fair overall without make massive changes to the constion.

Re:Yet another Mobocrat (4, Insightful)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393656)

The electoral college is designed to defend our Federal system: a nation made up of separate states.

Yeah, because citizens today really have a greater loyalty to Georgia than the USA.

That means that there is intrinsic power in being a state, no matter how small

Stating the obvious doesn't prove it is good, only that it is.

Arguing for a number driven entirely by popular vote ignores the realities of separate states in our Federation, and invites secession and the possible dissolution of our nation.

Right. That non-popular vote sure has done a good job at preventing secession [yale.edu] .

the dissolution of the United States of America would be so bad for the stability, prosperity, and standard of living for the people of Earth that there aren't words strong enough to convey it.

If that's as obviously true as you say, then nobody will vote for secession, even in a popular election.

Re:Yet another Mobocrat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10394058)

While I agree with your comment for the most part, I just want to throw in this.

Your parent post said this...

the dissolution of the United States of America would be so bad for the stability, prosperity, and standard of living for the people of Earth that there aren't words strong enough to convey it.

You said this...

If that's as obviously true as you say, then nobody will vote for secession, even in a popular election.

Voting for Bush harms our stability, prosperity, and Standard of Living for not only us but the people of the world, yet there are people who will vote for him.

Re:Yet another Mobocrat (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394129)

Yeah, because citizens today really have a greater loyalty to Georgia than the USA.

Not the point, someone in WY has different needs than someone in Atlanta should they be ignored because Atlanta is bigger?

Right. That non-popular vote sure has done a good job at preventing secession.

Umm he did not say that keeping it prevents the issue, what he says is that getting rid of it encourages the act.

Re:Yet another Mobocrat (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397006)

Umm he did not say that keeping it prevents the issue, what he says is that getting rid of it encourages the act.

Which would be a damned good thing at this point, I would think. Now that the neo-whatever feds have sold all of our sovereignity to the WTO for a few shiny Euros- we might as well tell them to go fuck themselves.

Re:Yet another Mobocrat (2, Insightful)

cft_128 (650084) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397250)

Not the point, someone in WY has different needs than someone in Atlanta should they be ignored because Atlanta is bigger?

Should my vote count less simply because my state has a large population?

Re:Yet another Mobocrat (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394485)

Saying that the electoral college is not fair is like saying the bicameral legislature is not fair: after all, why don't we trust the house of representatives to make laws free from the interference of the inordinately powerful votes of the small states' senators?

No, it's not. The bicameral legislature is a compromise that is functioning as it was designed. The electoral college is not, due to mathematical mistakes. The system was fine when it was created, but it didn't scale.

The electoral college system introduces various forms of round-off error into the system. As the range of populations amongst states became more varied, and as the number of states increased, the various sources of round-off error became more significant. For example, most states chose all their votes to go to one candidate. The means that if a state is split 49% to 51%, that 49% of the votes are thrown out. The article points-out that the methods for determining the number of electors is not accurate, which introduces more error.

Re:Yet another Mobocrat (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395820)

The bicameral legislature is a compromise that is functioning as it was designed. The electoral college is not, due to mathematical mistakes.

I don't really see what's that different between the 2 Senators and the 2 Electoral votes each state recieves regardless of population. Both are an intentional shifting of power to less populous states.

The only real difference between them is that it's possible for a state's 2 senators to be of different parties, while the electoral votes (aside from 2 minor exceptions) always go to just one party.

I suppose that avoids the biggest unfairness, because a 49%-48% D-R split won't go completely Democrat, but it's a rather minor difference.

Currently 13 of the 50 states have Senators of different parties. In the big picture, Senators' role in lawmaking is tremendously more influential than the 2 Electoral Votes attached to them.

PS. For a point of accuracy, the bicarmeral system has 2 different desired effects, but only one relates to this discussion: giving a boost to less populated states. The other is to impair the federal government's ability to make rapid changes, by requiring all new laws to be passed twice. Hopefully the other house will notice any stupid oversights from the first time a bill was approved. However, that function could be performed even if the senate was also assigned by population.

Re:Yet another Mobocrat (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396149)

The problem is not that the system didn't scale, but that the system was used in a manner for which it was never intended in the first place.

It wasn't until 1860 that all states finally allowed for popular election of electors, and we all know what happened shortly thereafter :-p

It's been all downhill ever since.

The electoral college is less of a problem... (4, Insightful)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393414)

The electoral college is less of a problem than the fact that we have one vote, one choice. We can't preferentially vote, there's no instant run-off, and so our incentive is always to use our sole vote for the first candidate or the second candidate.

I mean, there are issues with the electoral college, sure, but nothing really compares to the "single choice" model -- *that* is just screwed up.

A Representative Republic, Not a Democracy (4, Informative)

stankulp (69949) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393771)

Democracy is exactly what the founders sought to avoid when they framed the Constitution.

Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

A democracy is eternally threatened by the power of stupid people in large numbers.

Our form of government is a "representative republic," in which all of the citizens choose a few of their fellow citizens to represent them in the legislature. These representatives are able to make more informed decisions than the mob rule that is democracy.

The name of our country is the "United States." When the United States was formed from the original thirteen colonies, each of these colonies intended to maintain their own autonomy and internal governments.

Each state in the union was intended to be a sovereign governmental entity. The centralized powers of the common federal government binding these united states was intended to be limited to powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

In other words, the citizens of the United States federal government are the individual states. It is they who are voting for a President, not the individual citizens of the federation.

That's why most states have a "winner take all" policy for their electoral votes.

The last thing on earth the founders intended was "one voter, one vote," because that is democratic mob rule.

Re:A Representative Republic, Not a Democracy (2, Insightful)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394178)

Bloody great post!

Except this part

That's why most states have a "winner take all" policy for their electoral votes.

It would be more accurate to say thats why each state can decide their electors as they see fit..

Re:A Representative Republic, Not a Democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10396326)

One thing that always stikes me as strange when reading about this is that a lot of americans speak as though the founders were more than just men and that they could somehow see ahead in time. They were great men, but it would be a stretch to say that they could have seen how the future would turn out.

Just because their intentions at a certain point in time were justified and important does not mean that they have to be held up today.

I have always felt that politics suffers from too much history and unwillingness to break with the past. I am Canadian and this could be no more evident here than anywhere else, where we still have a governor general (the queen's representative) who has certain powers but is essentially useless. (Not to mention the queen herself, although the one thing that does provide, in my opinion, is way off topic - basically it insulates us from the idea that the prime minister (president equivalent) is somehow above everyone else. The Bush admin in particular has cultivated this by pretty much calling any hard questions asked to the president disrepectful. i.e. Irish interview a while back.)

Political systems need to evolve just like anything else. I bet if the founders were around today they would call for a scrapping of many of the existing structures, just like they did back then.

Re:A Representative Republic, Not a Democracy (1)

cft_128 (650084) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397343)

Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
A democracy is eternally threatened by the power of stupid people in large numbers.

When has the EC ever saved us from making stupid choices?

Wrong, in at least two ways (5, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 10 years ago | (#10393854)

The author of the article needs to do some research in both the history and the mathematics of the electoral college.

From the historical perspective, what the author claims is a problem is *exactly* what was intended by the founding fathers. They were afraid that large, populous states would dominate small states so they made an explicit attempt to counter that large-state dominance.

From a mathematical perspective, Bennahaum is wrong about the effect of the electoral college, and so were the founders. The reason he's wrong is that the method he's using for analyzing the power of a vote -- calculating each voter's "share" of an electoral vote -- is inadequate and fails to account for the fact that most states (all but Vermont, I think) allocate their electoral votes as a bloc.

A better measure of voting power is the Bahnzaf Power Index, which defines the power of a vote as the probability that that vote will "swing" the election. In the case of the electoral college that means you have to do a two-level analysis. For each state, you have to calculate the probability that a single vote in that state will swing that state's electoral votes from one candidate to another. Then, for each state you have to calculate the probability that that state's electoral votes will swing the election.

What comes out of this analysis is the discovery that the voters in the smallest states have far *less* power than the voters in large states. We saw evidence of this in 2000: Florida was not the only state with a very tight election but no one bothered fighting (much) about the others because they were smaller states and didn't matter. Whichever way Florida's 25 votes would win, regardless of the other outcomes.

That said, more recent statistical analysis (which I can't find right now, but there are some papers on the web) that takes into account the current structure of political power in the United States shows that, in fact, the net effect of the electoral college is pretty close to zero. Beyond the math, history shows this pretty clearly as well: There have only been three presidential elections in the 200-year history of the US where the electoral college produced a different result than a purely popular vote would have.

In my opinion, the founders were right about the need for something to shift power to smaller states, because as a resident of a smaller state it's quite clear that our voices are completely irrelevant. So, if you want to fix the electoral college, you should just modify it so that states allocate their electoral votes proportionally, based on the votes cast in that state. That will (mostly) eliminate the bloc voting effect while retaining the balancing feature that has, unfortunately, never worked.

Was the EC created to shift power to small states? (2, Informative)

cft_128 (650084) | more than 10 years ago | (#10397602)

In my opinion, the founders were right about the need for something to shift power to smaller states, because as a resident of a smaller state it's quite clear that our voices are completely irrelevant. So, if you want to fix the electoral college, you should just modify it so that states allocate their electoral votes proportionally, based on the votes cast in that state. That will (mostly) eliminate the bloc voting effect while retaining the balancing feature that has, unfortunately, never worked.

There are some good arguments [pitt.edu] out there that say that shifting power to the smaller states was not what they really wanted. This is from the linked article:

The second (partially) wrong explanation: the electoral college was designed to protect the small states from dominance by the large. This is the explanation the respected commentator, Daniel Schorr, gave recently on National Public Radio. In all the debates over the executive at the Constitutional Convention, this issue never came up. Indeed, the opposite argument was more important. At one point the Convention considered allowing the state governors to choose the president but backed away from this in part because it would allow the small states to chose one of their own.

The correct explanation: to understand the origin of the electoral college we first must see the various methods of picking a president that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention considered. Initially, the president was to be elected by the Congress and serve for seven years. Some delegates wanted a single term for the president, but the majority were opposed to term limits -- they believed the best leaders should serve as long as the people wanted them to serve.

[...]

Thus, the delegates had to find another method of electing the president. On July 19, 1787 Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut proposed "electors" appointed by the state legislatures. Under Ellsworth's plan these would be apportioned on the basis of population, and thus the small states would have no special advantage.

At this point James Madison, a slaveholder from Virginia, weighed in. The most influential delegate, Madison argued that "the people at large" were "the fittest" to choose the president. But "one difficulty...of a serious nature" made election by the people impossible. Madison noted that the "right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes." In order to guarantee that the nonvoting slaves could nevertheless influence the presidential election, Madison favored the creation of the electoral college. Hugh Williamson of North Carolina was more open about the reasons for southern opposition to election by popular vote. He noted that under a direct election of the president, Virginia would not be able to elect her leaders president because "her slaves will have no suffrage." The same of course would be true for the rest of the South.

The 3/5 compromise gave white land owners in southern states, especially Virginia, much more power in choosing president than the smaller northern states. In the 1800 election between John Adams (not a slave owner) and Thomas Jefferson (slave owner from virginia) John Adams would have won if the 3/5 compromise had not been in place.

What would it take to scrap it? (4, Interesting)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394351)

Here's an interesting question for you all. What do you think it would take to get enough political willpower in the U.S. to scrap this system?

Four years ago, I would have said "Have someone lose the popular vote but win the electoral vote." Obviously I was wrong. But 2000 was a special case -- all the controversy swirling around Florida meant that by the time things were finally settled, no one wanted to think or hear about presidential elections anymore. In fact, there are any number of both Bush and Gore supporters from 2000 who probably don't even know, or quickly forgot, that Gore came in first in the popular vote overall.

So, what if this year the same thing happens, but the parties reverse -- Kerry wins the Electoral College (and the presidency), Bush wins the popular vote? Would the two parties see the last two elections as enough impetus to change or scrap the EC? Even if the national parties agreed, could they enforce party discipline on the state level to push the necessary constitutional changes through the state legislatures?

For my personal opinion -- I say scrap it, or at least modify it so that the whole country does a proportional or by-congressional-district apportionment like Maine and Nebraska. I know all the arguments about federalism -- I just don't find them that persuasive or relevant. The bottom line is that the Presidency and the U.S. central government are now so powerful, and so intrusive in people's lives, that to give some U.S. citizens extra voting power just because of where they happen to live extremely undemocratic. And yes, with modern American mobility, it *is* a matter of "where they happen to live" -- people move across state lines all the time, and I don't think loyalty to one's home state is anywhere near what it used to be.

In addition, several of the founding concepts of the system seem to be to flawed or no longer relevant. States of a similar size don't necessarily have similar interestes -- compare D.C. and Wyoming (3 EVs), Maryland and Arizona (10 EVs), New York and Texas (31-34 EVs). And states don't necessarily have monolithic interests -- New York and California both contains regions with wildly different demographic and political profiles.

jf

EC isn't where the problem is at. (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395348)

The problem is in the Congress. The Presidential elections are probably the only elections at the Federal level that the public has ANY chance to truly affect.

House of Representatives? Not really. A large number run unopposed, nearly 3/4s win their district by 60%+, and in 2002 only 4 of them lost their seats!

The Senate is nearly as bad. I don't have the statistics at hand (being at work) but the turnover in the Senate is near the House levels and worse the parties are not above using shennagins to protect seats.

(on the previous post, NY and CA do not have wildy different political profiles, especially when you factor in the abundant influences of their cities - which is what the article author is aiming for - giving population centers more influence)

Re:EC isn't where the problem is at. (1)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395461)

(on the previous post, NY and CA do not have wildy different political profiles, especially when you factor in the abundant influences of their cities - which is what the article author is aiming for - giving population centers more influence)

Sorry, perhaps I wasn't clear. NY and CA as currently constituted do have similar political profiles. I meant that regions *within* each state have very different profiles from one another. Many people outside of CA think of liberal, urban SF and LA as the epitome of the state's political culture, but there's also convservative urban areas (Orange County) and conservative rural areas (San Joaquin Valley). Ditto New York -- Liberal NYC and conservative rural/suburban upstate and western NY areas are very different. The fact that Rochester and Westchester, or San Francisco and San Diego, share a state is a result of a decisions made centuries ago. It makes no moden sense to lump them together in a voting block for the president.

jf

Re:EC isn't where the problem is at. (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396589)

The problem is in the Congress.

True, although you don't mention why this is: it's because the Congressmen themselves are allowed to modify their district boundaries, carefully working to maintain a majority of their own supporters. A household not voting for you? Push it into another district!

If districts were laid down by a preset mathmatical formula that only went by head-count and no other factors, then the Congressional stagnation wouldn't happen. Allowing Congressmen to pick who gets to vote for them means they'll almost never be voted out. The word of the day is gerrymandering!

Re:What would it take to scrap it? (1)

elijahao (195433) | more than 10 years ago | (#10396639)

This is exactly the point of the Constitution's separation of the Federal Government and the States' Government. The other 49 States don't have a right to tell 1 State what to do with it's electoral votes. It is supremely up to the State and ONLY the State to determine how it will cast it's votes in the Presidential Election.

The solution to this problem is not to take away more State's power, but to begin to restore it by breaking down the powers of the Federal Government. As a citizen of Missouri, I should have absolutely *NO* say about what the citizens of Kansas can and cannot do.

In another post, another person brought up the secession of Georgia. The problem they cited thoroughly in that document was the arrogance and corruption of the Northern States that refused to follow Constitutional laws and statutes because of their own determined ideals. It should not matter how many people in New York and California decide that people that live by the Ocean should get a new car, the people of Missouri should not be coerced into paying for it. (or Any OTHER State)

The United STATES of America is a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy. The Sovreign States should not be required to change their methods of sending representatives to the Federal Government. That should be left to their own governments to decide.

My post on his blog -- look at it statistically. (2, Insightful)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 10 years ago | (#10394611)

I am very much in favor of the Electoral College, although I agree that certain tweaks are necessary, specifically the winner-take-all system that nearly all of the States have adopted.

Mr. Bennahum, you appear to be statistically oriented.... try applying those statistics to the inherit error involved in a nation-wide direct-vote Presidential election. Be sure to factor in electoral problems like the ones in New Mexico and Florida in the 2000 election.

Pretty high, isn't it? That's right it is.

Not only does the Electoral College ensure that a Presidential Candidate be palatable to most of the States in the country (as Luke White mentioned), it also ensures a final vote that has zero statistic error. Although whether or not a particular vote should have been one way or the other could come in to question, the vote itself, once cast, is solid and undeniable. There is zero doubt about the legitimacy of the Presidency in such as system.

Invariably, whenever there is a close race, somebody calls for the abolishment of the Electoral College. The thing is... close races are when the Electoral College goes to *work*, not when it gets in the way.

Fix the Electoral College, don't remove it.

Re:My post on his blog -- look at it statistically (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395906)

it also ensures a final vote that has zero statistic error.

It does no such thing!

There is zero doubt about the legitimacy of the Presidency in such as system.

Just because the final addition is too simple for any math errors to creep in, it absolutely doesn't protect the result from doubt about legitimacy. Or haven't you noticed the bumper stickers with "Let's not elect him in 2004 either" ?

Mathmatically, error propagates throughout expressions. If term B isn't believed to be correct, then A+B+C isn't believable either. Someone who thinks (for whatever reason) that Florida was counted wrong won't agree that Bush really won.

Re:My post on his blog -- look at it statistically (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395974)

The problem with the electoral college is the popular election of electors. The problems associated with slates of electors and first-past-the-post occur ONLY because electors are popularly elected.

Ultimately, it's up to the state legislatures to decide how electors are choosen, so it doesn't make sense to talk about the inequity of the situation. The system was never meant to work by way of popular voting, and anyways it was intentionally never meant to be equitable even between states (ignoring the popular vote issue for a moment) - that's the whole point as you note in reply - to give smaller states a little bit more leverage over the larger ones, so that politicians wouldn't ignore the smaller states.

So all that statistical analysis is nice and dandy and all, but it COMPLETELY ignores the fundamental reason of why the system was created the way it was in the first place.

People should get a clue as to why it is the way it is before they rush off insisting it be changed.

Further, they might well consider why it wasn't setup from the start to use popular election of electors, and it wasn't just because of issues of communication and transportation...

That goes a long ways towards explaining... (1)

read-only slashdot (817658) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395430)

how we got a guy like Cheney running the country.

Re:That goes a long ways towards explaining... (1)

ex_poser (817639) | more than 10 years ago | (#10395707)

More like: that helps explain why Dick Cheney [WY] is calling the shots and Tom Ridge [PA] is doing all the worrying.

Re:That goes a long ways towards explaining... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10395954)

Dude with normal happy life:
I like Cheney.

Liberal Underworld:
Hiss hiss !!! spit growl!!!
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