Monday, December 28, 2009

Advantages & Disadvantages of the Electoral College.

What are the advantages and disadvantages associated with the electoral college?

Disadvantages of the Electoral College

Popular vote does not always determine the winner of an election.

Because of the way the Electoral College with Electors who cast votes rather than individual citizens casting votes directly the nationwide popular vote is not always the election winner. Although it is very uncommon for the winner of the popular vote to not be the election winner it can happen and has happened. Opponents of the Electoral College claim that such outcomes do not demonstrate how a democratic system should function. Many people favor the Idea of a winner-take-all election.

Larger “swing” states receive the most attention
In most states the candidate with the most votes receives all of the state's electoral votes. Some states have a history of consistently voting Republican or consistently voting Democrat. Candidates pay less attention to states with clear favorites and more attention to large states with no clear favorite.

Discourages third parties
Third Parties are often unable to gain any strength do to the set up of the Electoral College.

Discourages voter turnout
Because the candidate with the highest popular vote in each state receives all of the electoral votes in states with a clear favorites (democrat or republican) voters often feel their vote will have no effect. The Electoral College system does not encourage candidates to campaign for voter turnout, except in large “swing states”.

Favors the smaller less populous states
The Electoral College system gives power to the small less populous states that is disproportionate to larger states. This boost in the electoral strength of the small states traditionally this has favored the Republican Party.

Advantages of the Electoral College

Prevents a victory based solely on urban areas.
People who favor the Electoral College claim that the current system prevents a candidate from wining by focusing solely on heavily populated areas. The candidate must take a wider approach.

Helps maintain the nations federal character
The system allows each of the states the freedom to design its own laws in regards to voting and offers each the ability to effect change.

Maintains separation of powers
The Constitution was designed to separate government into three different branches designed to provide “checks and balances” as well as deliberation. Proponents argue that if a President elected directly he could assert a national popular mandate that would undermine the other government branches, and could potentially result in tyranny.

Minority groups
Proponents argue that minority groups and interest groups can have a great impact in swaying votes due to the winner-take-all system in the states.

Two-party system
Many consider the Electoral College’s negative effect on third parties to be a good thing. Maintaining that our current two party systems provides the country with stability.

While there are many obvious problems with the current Electoral College system it is very unlikely to change. In order to change the Electoral College a constitutional amendment would need to be passed (ratified by ¾ of the states) The smaller states who are at the advantage have little reason to agree upon a change.