The Electoral College. Essay

946 words - 4 pages

The Electoral CollegeThe Electoral College process is part of the original design of the U.S. constitution. The Electoral College was devised by theFounding Fathers to elect the president and vice president. In this essay I will asses whether the system is democratic. I shall dothis by discussing its strengths, weaknesses and attempts to reform it.The Electoral College system has been criticised many times since its establishment. It is seen to contain weaknesses for not fullyserving American democracy. The main problem is that the system clearly has the potential to frustrate the electorate. Because ofthe aggregation of the electoral votes by state, it is possible that a candidate might win the most popular votes but lose in theElectoral College voting, this happened 3 times in the 19th century, but also in the presidential elections of 2000. Although Goregained nearly half a million more votes than Bush he didn't gain enough electoral votes to win. The winner-take-all system literallymeans that the candidate team that wins most of the plurality votes in a particular state gets all of the electoral votes in that state,and the loser gets none, even if the loss is marginal. For example, all 54 of California's electoral votes go to the winner of thatstate election, even if the margin of victory is only 50.1% to 49.9%.Another weakness in the system is the possibility of "faithless electors" who defect from the candidate to whom they are pledged.Twenty- six states have no requirement that electors vote in accordance with the popular vote. Nineteen states and D.C. mandatethat they vote in accordance with the popular vote but, there's no penalty if an elector fails to do so. Only 5 states have penaltiesfor deviating from the popular vote, but the sanctions are very small. The main danger of faithless electors is that the candidatewho wins the popular vote could wind up 1 or 2 votes short of a majority in the Electoral College and could lose the election on atechnicality. This prospect becomes more probable when there are third- party or independent candidates who could negotiatewith electors before they vote.There is also the possibility that an election could be thrown into the House of Representatives which is undemocratic. In such acase each state has a single vote, which gives states with small populations such as Alaska equal weight with more populousstates like Texas and Florida. Also, one vote per state in the House of Representatives may not necessarily result in a choice thatreplicates the electoral vote winner in that state in November.There are however many strengths of the Electoral College system which serve American democracy well. The main argument infavour of retaining the present system is that there is too much uncertainty over whether any other method would be animprovement. Many of the weaknesses of the Electoral College apply just as well to the Senate and, in some ways the House...

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