Time For Reform? Considering The Failures Of The Electoral College In The Us

1882 words - 8 pages

TIME FOR REFORM? CONSIDERING THE FAILURES OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGEDescription: This paper discusses the many shortcomings of the ElectoralCollege, and posits possible alternative electoral processes which likely bemore democratic.Time for Reform?Considering the failures of the Electoral CollegeA common misconception among American is that when they vote they elect the President. The truth is notnearly this simple. What in fact happens when a person votes is that there vote goes for an Elector. ThisElector (who is selected by the respective state in which a vote is cast) casts ballots for two individuals, thePresident and the Vice-President. Each state has the same number of electors as there are Senate and Houseof Representative members for that State. When the voting has stopped the candidate who receives themajority of the Electoral votes for a state receives all the electoral votes for that state. All the votes aretransmitted to Washington, D.C. for tallying, and the candidate with the majority of the electoral votes winsthe presidency. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the responsibility of selecting the nextPresident falls upon the House of Representatives. This elaborate system of Presidential selection is thoughtby many to be an 18th century anachronism (Hoxie p. 717), what it is in fact is the product of a 200 year olddebate over who should select the President and why.In 1787, the Framers in their infinite wisdom, saw the need to respect the principles of both Federalists andStates Righters (republicans) (Hoxie p. 717). Summarily a compromise was struck between those who feltCongress should select the President and those who felt the states should have a say. In 1788 the ElectoralCollege was indoctrinated and placed into operation. The College was to allow people a say in who lead them,but was also to protect against the general public's ignorance of politics. Why the fear of the peoplesignorance of politics? It was argued that the people, left to their own devices could be swayed by a fewdesigning men to elect a king or demagogue (McManus p. 19). With the Electoral College in place the peoplecould make a screened decision about who the highest authority in the land was to be (Bailey & Shafritz (p.60); at the same time the fear of the newly formed nation being destroyed by a demagogue could be put to restbecause wiser men had the final say.200 years later the system is still designed to safeguard against the ignorant capacities of the people. TheElectoral College has remained relatively unchanged in form and function since 1787, the year of itsformulation. This in itself poses a problem because in 200 years the stakes have changed yet the College hasremained the same. A safeguard against a demagogue may still be relevant, but the College as this safeguardhas proved flawed in other capacities. These flaws have shed light on the many paths to undemocraticelection. The question then is what shall the priorities be? Shall...

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