Electoral College Discussion

Discussion about the ElectoralCollege.

The following map provides an interesting perspective. -- GlennVanderburg

Interesting. Even though Bush leads in all of the above and also has more states for him, Gore has the [plurality] if you look at the population overall: According to http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/results/ 49,398,018 voted for Gore, 49,200,915 for Bush.

No, Gore has the [plurality] of those who voted, which must mean that Bush won the places with a low voter turnout. And as the voter/acreage figures above show, Bush also won ThePeriphery. -- OleAndersen

There is some debate over whether, were all the absentee ballots to be counted, Gore or Bush has the popular vote; last I heard, there are more than 1 million outstanding absentee ballots (in California alone) but a difference between the candidates of only 200,000. Absentee ballots tend to be heavily Republican (because most come from armed forces personnel stationed outside their home state) and could easily overturn that margin. -- DanHankins

Absentee ballots tend to come from armed forces personnel stationed away from home; however, the states with the most absentee ballots, Oregon and Washington State have been emphasizing mail-voting, even for ordinary citizens. That's why the Washington State Senatorial race is still undecided as of 15 Nov, 1:00EST. -- EricJablow

Two interesting things: in states where Bush won, he tended to win nearly every county, and in states where Gore won, he tended to win a few counties (apparently by large margins). There are exceptions to that, of course.

The other interesting thing I noticed is that Gore was strongest in areas at opposite ends of the economic/cultural spectrum: on the two coasts, he was strong mostly in wealthy urban areas, while between the coasts he was strong mostly in the poorest rural areas (note especially the concentrations of Gore counties in the ultra-poor counties bordering the southern Mississippi river, and the Indian reservation counties mentioned at the bottom of the map). -- GlennVanderburg

Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 2 of the US Constitution states "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: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector."


Article XXIII, Section 1 of the US Constitution states "The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment"
Please note in Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 2 there is NO reference to a popular vote mechanism. If you're interested then don't fail to read Federalist Paper 68 http://www.mcs.net/~knautzr/fed/fed68.htm to get the essential reasons behind the Founding Fathers decision to NOT implement a popular voting mechanism.

The various state legislatures have failed miserably in their responsibilities as was predicted by the Founding Fathers. -- DaveSteffe

A lot of foreigners are wondering how the U.S. could possibly have such a "failure"-prone system, in that the president is not necessarily the winner of the popular vote. The system is neither democratic nor aristocratic, but rather a subtle combination of both. The FoundingFathers believed that majority rule would be rule by the rabble, and rejected it. -- BenKovitz
Some questions: (1) since the number of electors a state gets is equal to its number of senators plus representatives, why not just have the senate and house get together and vote? (2) Additionally, if the election is thrown to the house and each state gets one vote, why not just throw the election to the senate instead? The point about the arduousness of the process for introducing constitutional change is well taken and does seem to have been effective, however, in addition to ensuring "no fast changes, especially when demanded by the rabble", it has entrenched the initial fast changes imposed by the autocratic "FoundingFathers". See for example the hopelessly out-of-date second amendment. -- AndyPierce

I'm not positive, but this might be how AlexanderHamilton? might answer. (1) Lots of reasons. Maybe the biggest is that a body of electors themselves elected very temporarily, only for this one job, would be less likely to become or represent a continuing political force that the president would have to answer to in place of the people. (2) The House was thought to be more a representative of the people at large than the Senate, which was envisioned as representing the upper classes (since its members were appointed, not elected). See http://www.mcs.net/~knautzr/fed/fed68.htm. -- BenKovitz
Elections where the Electoral College (sometimes in combination with fraud in key states, or in the Electoral College itself) produced strange results:

Although the "disproportional" representation will never go away because the states it favors will not approve such to pass, it may still be possible to push for finer-grained representation so that individual votes are counted instead of all-or-nothing state-based counts. It would be like calculating the proportion of a vote of an individual. For larger states a person's vote may represent something like 0.95 of a vote and 1.05 in a smaller state. But, they would still be summed individually.

See also: VotingPatterns, ElectionEpistemology, ElectoralCollege

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