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Thank All Patch Bloggers For Your Comments on Getting Rid of the Electoral College

This Really Turned Into a Lively Discussion Because People Care.

The Patch Network exploded when I suggested recently that we "Get Rid of the Electoral College."  According to the following comments, I couldn't have been more wrong if I had of tried.

"If we don't get reasonable campaign finance reform, then I cannot see how the
American people can vote for the Republican or Democratic candidate in good
faith. Heck, they have both been bought out by 'dark money'." Brookfield Patch

"Wait. Wait. Apply this logic to the year 2000. Gore would have been president. Imagine that? He'd be all about the envarrrrrrrrrrrrment and those ornaaaaaaaadoes and floooooooooods, massive forest fiiiiiiiiiiiiiires, etc." Hatboro-Horsham Patch

"I just don't think I could handle all the pics of him tonsil-massaging Tipper." Hatboro-Horsham Patch

"We need Ballot Access Reform in Pennsylvania. Any candidate running for an office should be required to collect the same amount of signatures. There is no reason 3rd party and Independent Candidates should have to collect 10 times more signatures than Republicans and Democrats." Hatboro-Horsham Patch

"No, no .. a thousand times no!

I hear this argument every Election Year, especially when it comes to close Presidential elections. It's a short-sighted argument that is ALWAYS tinged by partisan politics (usually the side that narrowly wins the popular vote but falls short in the Electoral College).

First though, the REAL obstacle to third-party success is Financial and a phenomena I'll call Eyes Too Big for Your Stomach (or maybe Biting Off More Than You Can Chew).  The problem with third-party candidacies is that they generally pop up in National Presidential Elections, where they do not stand a chance given their Financial disadvantage.

If you want to build a successful third-party challenge, you need to build it at the grassroot - maybe State - level first.  Unless they can do that, they'll NEVER stand a chance at the National level. No "base" means no chance!  The Electoral College is the LEAST of their worries whenever a third-party tries to change the National landscape without first making State inroads.

The one thing the Electoral College offers - that most people choose to disregard when they bring up the issue - is a Voice to the middle (or fly-over) sections of the country.  Look at any map of population distribution for the U.S., and the problem (if you live in Nevada, Utah, Nebraska, Iowa, etc.) is plainly clear.  Large swaths of the U.S. - and their local issues - could be conveniently IGNORED by every candidate wishing to be POTUS. (Presidents Of The United States),

Presidential politics would become a game played along the east & west coasts, Ohio, Illinois, and maybe 8 other states. Everyone else? Just shut up and take a seat!  No more discussions about farming aid, water rights and conservation, National Parks, etc.

It’s bad enough that POTUS candidates barely touch these areas once the Primary season is over.  Once you do away with the Electoral College there will be no need for anyone on the National level – aside from Reps and Senators from these now forgotten states – to be bothered politically with the center of the country.

Now back to the partisan message of Mr. Medved.  His real concern - as a true Daily Beast contributor – is buried in the article. His REAL concern?  If somehow, a third-party candidacy for POTUS were to be so successful as to through the Electoral College into a tie (last time was in 1824), the DEMOCRATS would be at a disadvantage!  This due to the NUMBER of States (In such a circumstance, each State would receive ONE VOTE.) Republicans currently control!

So please, let’s drop any pretense that somehow this challenge is meant to look at the issue from the point-of-view of the entire country.  It’s a partisan ploy just like anything else in politics.

If third-parties want to challenge the status quo, then they have to start building local grassroots efforts; not just trying to always hit the grandslam every four years on the National Stage!" Hatboro-Horsham Patch

"99% of all members of the electorate have voted according to the people.
Eliminating the electoral college is completely unnecessary." Hatboro-Horsham Patch

 

"Without the Electoral College, the voters in major population centers would
essentially control the elections, and voters in other geographical areas would
have little effect on the outcome. This would effectively disenfranchise very
large portions of the country, who would tend to be ignored in the
administration of a president elected under that system because of their minor
impact on the vote. The framers of the Constitution knew what they were doing.
Leave the Constitution alone, and enforce its provisions as written, instead of
increasingly thwarting them through executive orders and court rulings. P.S.
Notice that the source of this proposal, Newsweek magazine, has just issued its
obituary yesterday, since it is essentially dead, having committed suicide over
the last several years as a left-wing propaganda publication." Saline Patch

"The Electoral College was created when you had to ride a horse to Philadelphia to announce the election results from your state. I read somewhere that because of the strange rules of the EC it is possible to win the election with just 32% of the popular vote. It's definitely time to revise this system." Waukesha Patch

"The biggest problem I see with removing the electoral college or changing the
rules is that you could have a Presidential winner that receives less then 40%
of the vote and create more chaos then currently exists. While it might inhibit
the creation of a third party, who is to say that it would stop the head butting
in Congress. Honestly, the less congress does, the better. The solution to
fixing the log jam is a more informed voter base." Waukesha Patch

Since the first president only 10 have won with less then 50% and of those, only
5 with less then 45%. The first time it happened was in 1824 when John Quincy Adams won with 30.9% of the popular vote. I would not call that the will the of the people. Eliminating the EC would only increase the chances of this happening. The more candidates, the more the votes get spread around. If we feel it is a problem, then work to change the parties we have, not re-invent the wheel." Waukesha Patch

"The very idea that an elector has no legal requirement to vote for the
candidate selected by the people of his state enrages me. That said, this year,
like back in 2000, it looks like we may have an electoral winner who loses the
popular vote. If that happens, look to see some GOP support for doing away with
the electoral college." Waukesha Patch

"Just a footnote: I recently read a complaint that concerned the rule that
states that the minimal amount of electoral votes to be awarded to a state is 3.
Take Montana for instance- no one lives there. Well, the complaint stated that
the rule gives an unfair advantage to Republicans. How this can be- let me know,
I am all ears!" Waukesha Patch

"This comes up every 4 years.... never has real legs" Waukesha Patch

"I've been to Montana, and there are people living there. Maybe not enough to earn them three electoral votes as their true percentage of the US population, but there are people. Most, not all, are Republicans. I guess it would be frustrating if a President were to win by one electoral vote and that was Montana's. It's the winner take all factor of the electoral college -- you can win a state by a close margin or a landslide and still get the same number of electoral votes." Waukesha Patch

"I am aware that people live in Montana. My point is that I don't believe the
rule concerning 3 electoral votes was meant to favor anyone. My problem with the electoral college is this: suppose you are a Republican living in Illinois.
Well, you go and vote while knowing full well that Illinois'electoral votes will
be going to the Democratic candidate. Does your vote really count then?" Waukesha Patch

"We have bigger fish to fry than this issue. If and when it becomes a current event problem it may get addressed. Current events like voter ID and illegal immigrants voting is more important at this time. Issues like BS campaign commercials willfully manipulating the voter are more important. Putting the elctoral college issue on the front burner is like a dollar waiting on a dime." Waukesha Patch

"The Electoral College is an institution that is archaic and doesn't reflect the current state of political process. It was originally devised to protect against the "will of the masses" and to assure the installment of a member of the selected elite. It is time to do away with the institution and go to elections by popular vote. By doing so, it means that each voter has a vote independent of the state's majority." Waukesha Patch

"I agree with you. The rule was created to give very low-population states a
voice, and it's only coincidental that most of these states skew GOP at the
moment." Waukesha Patch

"On a scale of 1-10, how important is the need to change the electoral college before fixing all the other issues we are facing? I would give the EC a -3 The economy a -10 Debt -10 spending- 10 Voter ID- 9 I agree it is archaic, but I think we should focus on what is most important." Waukesha Patch

"Interesting issue - not really sure what the right answer is here." Waukesha Patch

"I think you are referring to elections with 3 or more candidates. I was
referring to the fact that in a two-party race the winner may only have 32% of
the popular vote. This is due to two EC rules - every state gets at least 3
votes and many states have winner-take-all rules. I have no problem with a
candidate winning with less than 50% if his opponents all received less that the
winner. That happens all the time in other countries. There are ways to solve
this, such as asking voters to also pick a #2 choice. Then you don't even need a
run-off election." Waukesha Patch

"Isn't three parties what Medved is looking for? So you are fine with a final of
33%, 33% and 34%; making 34% the winner. Please explain how that ends gridlock? The winner would barely have 1/3 of the country on his side." Waukesha Patch

"a good question. It would depend on the rules, of course. Of the cuff, I could
see two solutions - First, you just consider the two that tied. So you would
just add the 2nd place votes for the D and the R and ignore the I. So in effect
the 2nd choice of the I's would determine the outcome. Alternately, you could
give a weight to your ranking. So 1st choice might get 2 points, 2nd choice - 1
point. This might give the I the win. @J.B. - The presidential election does not
cause gridlock - that is Congress's problem. And remember that the EC could also
produce a president with 34% of the vote. I often prefer gridlock. I wish
Congress had been slower to act on many things, such as the Patriot Act, the
Iraq war, etc. An urgent matter will require a coalition, like in most
parliamentary countries. I am not say any of this is perfect, mind you. I just
think we can do better than the current system." Waukesha Patch

"I agree on gridlock, the less done the better. However, this appears to be a
case of the grass always being greener on the other side. I can't think of an
election system in existence that doesn't create its own set of problems. I
would argue the solution doesn't exist in the restructuring of the election
process but rather a better educated electorate."  Waukesha Patch

"All one has to do is remember back to the protests in Madison. The electoral college was created to prevent a 'mobocracy'. The Founding Fathers' fear was that democracy unhindered by checks could get out of control. I once again side with the Founding Fathers. The last thing America needs are hoards of unhinged radical Progressives running things." Waukesha Patch

"I don't follow your logic concerning that politicians wouldn't campaign beyond
Milwaukee. Could you please elaborate?" Waukesha Patch

"You seem obsessed with mobs and anarchy. Many times in the past you have written of your fears of the rabble crossing the Milwaukee River coming into your
village and murdering, pillaging and raping. So concerned about this you decided
to arm yourself and conceal carry. The needs of 240 years ago are much different
than the needs of today. In the first place we now have a literate society and
people are better informed now than at any time in the past. My suggestion to
you is adapt or go extinct." Waukesha Patch

Here are some interesting tid bits about the electoral college retrieved from

http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/faq.html#whyec

..."the term “electoral college” does not appear in the Constitution. Article
II
of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment refer to “electors,” but not to the “electoral college.”

"Since the Electoral College process is part of the original design of the
U.S. Constitution it would be necessary to pass a Constitutional amendment to
change this system."

" Reference sources indicate that over the past 200 years, over 700 proposals
have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College.
There have been more proposals for Constitutional amendments on changing the
Electoral College than on any other subject. The American Bar Association has
criticized the Electoral College as “archaic” and “ambiguous” and its polling
showed 69 percent of lawyers favored abolishing it in 1987. But surveys of
political scientists have supported continuation of the Electoral College.
Public opinion polls have shown Americans favored abolishing it by majorities of
58 percent in 1967; 81 percent in 1968; and 75 percent in 1981."

" The last third party, or splinter party, candidate to make a strong showing was
Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 (Progressive, also known as the Bull Moose Party). He finished a distant second in Electoral and popular votes (taking 88 of the 266
electoral votes needed to win at the time). Although Ross Perot won 19 percent
of the popular vote nationwide in 1992, he did not win any Electoral votes since
he was not particularly strong in any one state. Any candidate who wins a
majority or plurality of the popular vote nationwide has a good chance of
winning in the Electoral College, but there are no guarantees (see the results
of 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000 elections)."

If you are still interested in reading more about this topic go to:

http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/faq.html#whyec

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Michael McClusky October 22, 2012 at 10:46 PM
It is great to see so many people on the ball!

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