Can the Members of the Electoral College Choose Who They Vote For?

from The Brennan Center

Every presidential election brings renewed debate about the Electoral College. The discussion resonates even more this year, since Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million.

Most of the Democratic presidential candidates want to abolish the Electoral College to ensure the person with the most votes always wins. Changing to direct election of the president could be accomplished through a constitutional amendment or, less permanently, a method such as the National Popular Vote Compact, an agreement among states to award their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. Before his election, Trump called the current system a “disaster,” but afterwards, he said that “the Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A.”                                                                          

The Supreme Court may soon weigh in on a key aspect of how the system works. In a pair of court rulings that have been appealed to the high court, the justices are being asked to decide whether states can require presidential electors to vote for that state’s popular-vote winner.

More here.

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20 Responses to Can the Members of the Electoral College Choose Who They Vote For?

  1. Eli Garay January 31, 2020 at 3:34 pm #

    The electoral college is one of the most important institutions that we have in the United States. When it comes to the electoral college, the electors hold one of the most important roles in deciding who will lead the country for the next four years. While some people are absolutely against the electoral college, especially after the 2016 election, the electoral college is the one thing keeping the election fair in my opinion. If it was not for the electoral college, a handful of states would determine the outcome of the election, rather than allowing the voters to have a fair voice regardless of population. Assuming we only had an election based only on popular vote, the votes of citizens living in states such as Wyoming and Oklahoma would not matter as the voters in states as big and populated in California or New York. The electoral college allows us to proceed through an election fairly, because the electors pledged to commit to the popular vote winner of their states. So assuming in 2020 Donald Trump were to win the Midwest, every midwestern elector would have to vote for President Trump, and it allows the votes of people in states with small populations enter a level playing field with highly populated states. If we didn’t have electors and the election was based only on the popular vote, no one would go and vote, because they’d be infuriated that their votes wouldn’t even matter. However, penalties should definitely be in place for faithless electors that vote against their pledges because their votes represent the portion of the population they represent, and if they go against what the majority of their voters want, they are completely in the wrong and should not be allowed to continue representing, as they pledged to uphold the will of the majority. Going against the will of the majority that you are appointed to represent completely undermines our democracy as we elect people to represent what the majority of the citizens want, regardless of whether or not the people we elect agree, because they are elected to represent us and do what we ask of them, rather than the elected officials just act in their own best interest and the interest of their party.

  2. Marshall McGrath January 31, 2020 at 4:16 pm #

    The electoral college, as of the most recent presidential election in 2016, has fallen into immense scrutiny; some people love it because it favored their choice for office; others hate it because it led to the loss of their candidate. The heart of the electoral college debate falls on to the core principle of this country, republic versus democracy. The US constitution, written in 1789, was set up to help form the US as a republic, and the electoral college was a vital part of the republic. In recent times, however, the US has begone a shift to more to of a democracy with the fifteenth amendment allowing all men of age to vote and the 19th amendment allowing all women of age to vote. Thus, beginning a shift from republic towards democracy leading many to regard the electoral college as an archaic system and not the way of the future. Changing the electoral college could be a big deal as it is one of the binding forces of the republic that the constitution ensures and by changing that. Politics begin to stray from the constitution, which is one of the founding documents that brings stability to the country. By moving away from the republic, towards democracy, it weakens the powers which the constitution has. The article titled Can the Members of the Electoral College Choose Who They Vote For discusses how a pair of potential supreme court cases could completely change how people in the electoral college system vote. Towards the end of the article, however, it takes a complete shift stating that “Whatever the outcome, the cases provide yet one more reason why the country should adopt a fairer system that counts every person’s vote equally.” With this getting rid of the electoral college as the article infers could open up a pandora’s box, which in turn could completely change the American pollical system. This then is entirely dependent on where people fall on the political spectrum and if they want more of a democracy or a republic. The article does bring up the point that the way people vote in the current electoral college system needs to have a more definitive base off of what people do with their votes. If the electoral college does survive the next few years, then there should be changes made to it that bind the electors to vote for who won their state. By doing this, it ensures a candidate that if they win the state, then they will be awarded all of the state’s votes, which in turn may lead to more of a campaign effort in those states, which could make the country feel more connected. Altogether the article states that these two potential supreme court cases could completely change how the electoral college performers its duties and that even with all this changing, it might be time to stray away from the electoral college. Taking its place could be a system that listens more directly to the opinions of the population, making a more of a democracy.

  3. Matthew Pavlik January 31, 2020 at 8:08 pm #

    Another election cycle comes and another “Electoral College is good/bad/the greatest thing in America/the only thing standing in the way of democracy” argument goes. Honestly, I see my own opinion on this changing about as often as the arguments are represented. I used to consider the argument that the states without cities need better representation, since it is a fair argument: since these rural people lack metropolitan numbers, a popular vote would effectively hurt their vote (an argument similar to the South’s argument before the Civil War, that a more populated North could overpower state and southern rights in any national election). However, in today’s America, everyone is inestimably more connected than in the 1840’s, making that argument invalid. Moreover, the counter argument is more agreeable; with the electoral college, a citizen who lives in a city has a less valuable vote than a rural American. With every counter argument, however, comes another agreeable argument.

    Next in line is one which I held for a while, too, explaining that there would be no need for a politician to campaign in a swing state or a rural state if the popular vote ruled since most of America’s people live in cities and suburbs. In fact, Hillary Clinton’s popular vote win in 2016 could almost be traced to a single county in California (LA County), where she received 2.4 million votes. In such a densely populated area where people tend to agree more than disagree, taking over a few of these can almost guarantee and election win. This poses a serious question; is that a bad thing? Should Americans really use the electoral college to keep politicians from politicking? At the end of the day, people are well enough educated now to be trusted with choosing their own president… right?

    There are numerous other arguments, but they all end with the conclusion that the Electoral College is either necessary or unnecessary, with its latest proponents and opponents being purely political (Democrats want it now so they can win easier while Republicans want the electoral college so they actually have a chance to compete with “liberal” Metropolitan areas instead of pushing forward a moderate candidate). In my personal opinion, states should (as the article states) pledge their electoral votes to the popular vote candidate, and I say that as someone who prefers Republican ideals and candidates on a general basis. I do not think it steps our country closer to a pure democracy (which always fail quickly, like Athens); honestly, I think that it embraces our people’s intelligence and education that was simply unavailable for a very long time after America’s founding.

  4. Alex Silverstein January 31, 2020 at 8:59 pm #

    The Brennan Center wrote an interesting article about the renewed debate about the Electoral College after Donald Trump won the 2016 General Election, even though losing the popular vote by three million votes. According to the national archives, The Electoral college is a process, “ The founding fathers established in the Constitution in part, as a compromise between the election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens (National Archives). There should not even be a debate on the electoral college because our founding fathers specifically wrote in the constitution that electing a President of the United States in the most fair way is through the Electoral College.

    Gary Gregg of Politico explains why the Electoral College keeps elections fair, “ Making this runaround of the Constitution will result in dire consequences for our nation’s ability to choose its top leader fairly and effectively. Abolishing the current system will strongly tilt elections in favor of candidates who can win huge electoral margins in the country’s major metropolitan areas”. This statement by Gregg is correct because by dismantling the Electoral College people in middle America would not have a voice in America’s democracy. People that live in major metropolitan areas have very different belief systems than those in middle America. By dismantling the Electoral College, major American cities would determine our democracy and that is not what the founding fathers wrote in the constitution.

    The Brennan Center continues by stating what Democractic candidates have called for, “Most of the Democratic presidential candidates want to abolish the Electoral College to ensure the person with the most votes always wins”. It is not surprising that these candidates have called for abolishing the Electoral College because if it did happen to get abolished there would be always a democractic President and Congress. It is simply a smart political decision for Democractic presidential candidates calling for the Electoral College to be abolished.

    However, despite the renewed pushed abolishing the Electoral College, I don’t think it will ever happen because a constitutional amendment is needed, which is very tedious.

  5. Paavo Riihijarvi February 7, 2020 at 11:04 am #

    As a foreigner I find the electoral college very odd. The whole idea of if you live a smaller state, your vote counts for more than someone’s who is from a bigger state. In 2016 Clinton had 3 million votes more than Trump yet she still lost due to electoral college. This system is weird to me because our government and political system is very different, but my country is also a lot smaller than the U.S. For a country this big, you’ll need a different system than a smaller country. Finland’s presidential election seems fairer to me, as there are more candidates running, more political parties involved and every vote is equal. But the population of Finland is a lot lower, and there is many states in the US with a higher population than Finland.

    I remember that after the 2016 election a lot of Clinton’s supporters were complaining about the unfairness of electoral college and how it is unjust and I thought that argument is extremely stupid. You can’t play a game and then complain about the rules after you lose. I Understand how this system might not be the best option, but for a country this huge, there is not too many options. If you would decide the president by the popular vote, there would be few states that would determine the outcome and some states would be irrelevant. Popular vote would focus more on the individual vote but if some state populations share the same views and vote for the same presidential candidate, states like Wyoming and Montana would have no saying in the result. In the electoral college the states have a bigger role. With this the individuals wouldn’t be equal, but the states would be. With electoral college you would have to be popular all over the country, not just in the major states. With a country this large, every election way will have a negative side.

  6. Austin Minogue February 7, 2020 at 6:18 pm #

    The 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was one in which the results of the election are still in question to this day. This is due to the United States as a country being at a political tipping point and is one of the most polarized countries in the world at this moment. Another part of the controversy is the fact that Donald Trump won the election even though he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. He won the election because the winner is determined by the electoral college, which requires the candidate to receive 270 elector votes to become the President. Most of the protest to this type of system comes from the democratic party the losers in the outcome of the election. Who now call for a constitutional amendment that would abolish this system and change it to a national popular vote to decide who would be the winner of a presidential election.
    Whether or not this would be the best option is up for much debate. However, I believe that it is not necessary to change a system that has been employed every four years since the founding of our country. The controversy stems from the polarization in this country and has nothing to do with the system that is in place. If a change were to be made it would invalidate the winner of every past election who did not win the popular vote as well as the electoral vote. The electoral system that we use is outlined by the twelfth amendment of the constitution in 1804. This is to make every state have equal representation rather than it be based upon population. So states like Montana whose population is minimal compared to that of California have the same amount of power in the presidential election process. Impeding upon and changing this process would be unconstitutional and unfair to states that are lower in population and create unequal representation between states.

  7. Robert Farawell February 7, 2020 at 6:27 pm #

    One of the most foundational building blocks for a modern democracy is its electoral process. Depending on which democratic nation one is observing, the electoral process can be centuries old. In the United States of America aspects of the electoral process have come under particularly heated debate. From discussions on the power states have over their member of the Electoral College, to the question of the equality of the voting system, the electoral process, specifically the Electoral College, is being further scrutinized every day. Some people want to see the Electoral College to be abolished. I for one want to see the system reformed.

    When it comes to the premise of whether members of the Electoral College have the power to refrain from voting along the lines that their state pledges to follow. I personally believe that the presidential electors should not have the power to vote for whichever candidate they want. If the electors are allowed to have this power than voting will be irrelevant because no matter what the average citizen votes for, there will always be the chance that the people the elect to determine the president will vote against their wishes. This would discourage the people of America from participating in voting. The United States would resemble an oligarchy republic slightly more than a democratic republic. This would cause a lot of civil strife across the nation, for Americans aren’t used to the idea of enigmatic party yes-men deciding who they will crown as president, they expect for these people to at least vote according to how their constituents voted.

    In order to prevent further issues to come from the Electoral College it must be reformed into a more representative system. One of the major issues people have with the Electoral College, is their belief that it makes voting outside of swing states pointless. Some Americans believe this because in the US elections uses a First Past the Post system to determine how the electors are allocated. First Past the Post is a voting process where the candidate who has the most votes in a state, wins all the electors for that state. This system thus dissuades citizens that live in states that heavy support one political parties, to vote for the less popular party, because it is unlikely that the state, they live in will flip for the party they voted for.

    Some people believe that the solution to this system is to install a system of popular voting where everyone’s vote is considered equal. The problem with this system is that less populated states will become significantly less important because they lack the population to have a determining impact on elections and they would lose the disproportionate voting power they have due to how the number electoral votes for a state is determine. I believe the solution that will address this issue is to replace First Past the Post with Proportional Representation, a system were each party will receive electors from each state according to the proportion of the votes they received, for example the Republicans win 30% of the votes in New Jersey and the Democrats win 70%, thus the Republicans receive 30% of the electoral votes from that state and the Democrats receive 70% of the electoral votes. This will allow people to have their votes go towards the candidate that want, no matter who the majority of their state voted for. This would also make less populated states more impact on elections than the alternative solution of the popular, because winning three electoral votes in an election where the total number votes is in the hundreds has a larger impact than winning an extra 200,000 votes in an election where the total number votes is in the hundred millions.

  8. Kevin Orcutt February 7, 2020 at 8:01 pm #

    The question of the electoral college has been a joke since day 1 of it being argued about. Democrats believe that a regular vote of a people would be fair, but the simple truth is that it would not be. The first reason of this case is that it would not be accurate, at all. The reason the electoral college was brought about was because back in the early days of our country, a certain few states would have been able to control who got into office, and the others would have had zero say in the matter. This was simply because of the population being more heavily populated in those states than in others. This allowed for the smaller in population states to get a say in the presidency and not being overlooked. This would be the same case again today. The most densely populated states of California, New Jersey, and New York usually vote Democrat, which would diminish the fact of states like Wyoming from even having the power to fight that. Having it based on population also will benefit the Democrats more than Republicans because they try to get the Hispanic vote. The Democrat party has been pro illegal aliens for a very long time and have allowed countless people to pour over our border illegally. Once those people are here, it is then much easier for them to get their citizenship and be an American through applying like a law abiding citizen. This means that those people are most likely to vote for that party and drastically sway the votes. It is almost like they would be able to have people shipped here to vote for their party. The only promising thing to counteract the Democrats having that vote is that President Trump, despite what the media says, has an overwhelming support from that community. It is because those who went through the right channels appreciate that their hard work to get here isn’t undermined by those crossing illegally. If we are also going to listen to the article, it says only 19 people in history have not voted the way that they were supposed to. This is because they know they will not get their job back if they do, which is a big incentive for them to do the right thing. When those have not voted the right way, the article states how quickly they have been voted out of office as well. There is no issue with this system to this day, regardless of whether or not Hillary won the popular vote. This is simply another way for Democrats to try and manipulate the system to their advantage, and it will never work.

  9. Felipe Salas February 7, 2020 at 8:57 pm #

    I understand how this matter can be a subject of debate. Obviously the way the US electoral process work is different to other sovereign countries where elections rely solely on the popular vote. The primary difference comes from the involvement of the electoral college. As seen in the 2016 elections, this body can lead a candidate to victory without necessarily obtaining the majority of the popular vote. The electoral college is confirmed by electors which vary in number from state to state. Although the popular vote has to be taken into consideration, the ultimate decision is made by the electors of each state. This is how a candidate can win a state without having the majority of votes. Now, in addition to this, every state won gives the candidate a certain amount of points. The problem is that there are states that, primarily regarding their population density and representation in Congress, have a higher value in points than others. This means that, by winning over the right states, a candidate that doesn’t have the majority of the popular vote can easily win regardless. Obviously the candidates involved in this process always have the higher support and following, however, I personally believe that the electoral college is not a necessary body that should be involved in elections. I believe that a direct democracy should be employed when it comes to them. It makes no logical sense to complicate the process and create debate when a unanimous and objective decision can be obtained from simply counting the votes and giving the victory two the candidate having the majority to their favor. In my opinion, it is not necessary for the electors to deliberate further because that just leads to a biased decision at the end of the day. Because the electoral college decides on one candidate over others, that doesn’t mean that the candidate chosen is better prepared or capacitarse, it still remains a question of preference that should be attributed solely to the public.

  10. Connor Kupres February 8, 2020 at 5:34 am #

    “Most of the Democratic presidential candidates want to abolish the Electoral College to ensure the person with the most votes always wins” The electoral college is a function of the United states Government that allows for the decision of Presidency to be decided by more than just the people. This singular point is the main root of the problem. While many believe that the electoral college is just a necessity set forth by our founding fathers. It seems that the more I look into it the less democracy like it seems. Growing up when I heard about voting for presidencies, I never thought about how the votes were counted. I assumed that everyone’s vote is counted and then the president is named. But as I soon realized that the electoral college most of the time has the final say and ultimately that is not the people it is a bunch of white men that end up being able to decide the president. This process makes it almost impossible for the American population to feel like there vote actually counts for anything, While the vote does matter in the end if the people keep hearing electoral college the tempers will continue to rise. The democratic principles tat believe that the voting should be left solely to the people is the mindset that I side with the most. I don’t believe that anyone who truly believes in democracy considers that a bad idea. Even though the electoral college may side with the states majority that doesn’t mean every persons vote is counted towards a certain candidate which could make or break elections. While striving to make the most of the entire process of voting it only seems like the next logical step to make it so all the peoples votes are accounted for. Even though this a controversially democratic ideal it is one of the most logical ideas to keep the voting process for our country completely left up to the people. Not only is it the right move for the country but it also allows for more than just the Republican and Democratic parties to have a say in what happens.

  11. Angel Sanches February 11, 2020 at 12:08 am #

    I found this article to be very interesting and bringing up a lot of good points. The Electoral College has been a topic that has been debated for the past couple years. The article brought up many good points and makes it quite evident that this topic has many more issues than one can imagine. The Electoral College has been around since the beginning of the founding of the United States. The electoral system is in place to help elect the President by setting a specific amount of electoral votes to each state based on their population. The major number to win office is 270 electoral votes, but one does not need to win the popular vote in order to become President. As witnessed in the 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump won enough states to get past 270 electoral votes, while losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. Donald Trump, who believed that the Electoral College was a mess of a system before the election, now praises it and believes it makes the United States a better place. On the other hand, the Democrats want to change the voting system to allow for the winner of the popular vote to win Office. As one can see, each party likes the system when it benefits them but wants change when it hurts them and they get results that they don’t desire.
    The article brings up many good points and brings to light the issues that we are currently facing with this system. The “faithless” voter is something that is bound to be a possibility, but as history shows, this is a rare occasion. Although this did happen frequently in the 2016 election, we have to remember that 2016 was a unique election in which much of the public did not like either candidate from both parties. The voters in charge of voting for their state know the importance of their casting vote, so they should be allowed to vote their conscience. I do say we should change the process in which we hire/nominate their voters to make sure they are the most qualified and know the weight that their vote carries. If one votes in opposition of their state, it will happen but they must expect the consequences that follow, including fines and possibly losing their position for the next election.
    The issues involved with the Electoral College include more than what people may see or believe, so the process that follows in the future must be carefully thought out. By eliminating the Electoral College, you change the course of presidency, and the vote of all Americans weighs heavier than ever before. Although the Democratic Party lost the office but won the popular vote, they must be careful with their actions. If the Electoral College were to be thrown out, this could come back to hurt them in the future. For instance, twenty years from now, they could have their nominee win enough states to win the Electoral vote but lose the popular vote. Just as the article points out, the faithless voters have never changed the outcome of an election, so each party should consider in depth what is the best for this country. As the Supreme Court has the chance to hear both cases presented in the article, they must set precedent and rule if they believe the issue is within their jurisdiction. Overall, the article presents the issues of the electoral college well and shows how complex it is to fix or change it, as eliminating it would have imminent changes to the course of presidency in this country.

  12. Morgan Mooney February 14, 2020 at 2:29 pm #

    Debates are always taking place after elections on whether or not the electoral college is listening to the people or not. In the last election, Donald Trump won the election even though he lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes. This did not sit well with most Democrats and those who want to get rid of the electoral college completely so that the person with the most votes will always win. This is normal for if the Republication would have lost, many would be going after the electoral college as well. In each election, there will be a winning side and a losing side, so there is always going to be unhappy people no matter the outcome.
    The electoral college is a necessary evil that the country needs. Members of the electoral college are selected and expected to be able and perform their jobs as needed. Many Americans that can vote tend to not even keep up with modern news and may not be informed on current information to make a rational selection to who they believe can run our country the best. Many do not listen to anything the candidates have to say or what would help them the best. Some may just choose the party they are registered as and that’s the only reason. With the electoral college, we vote for people to follow the news constantly and stay on top of everything in the political world and for them to be able to select the best candidate.
    Even if the country abolished the electoral college, we would still find a different reason why the person we voted for did not win. That is just human nature and how we interact with each other. People are competitive in nature whether it is through opinions or ideas. We do not like to be proven wrong and we do not like it when others oppose our views. When we are wrong about something we tend to come up with excuses to make it seem like it was not our fault that we were wrong. This is the tricky part of the whole argument. How can we account for how people are going to react if their go-to excuse is gone.

  13. Derek Diefenderfer February 14, 2020 at 3:56 pm #

    The Electoral College has been around forever, the first rendition being implemented in 1787 ad still being around today. Along with it being around forever, it has brought great controversy over the recent elections. It was established by the U.S. Constitution, and it has a body of 538 electors that in charge of electing the president and vice president. To become president the candidate must have a majority of 270 electoral votes. According to the Article, two of the past five presidents had lost the popular vote and won the presidency through the electoral vote. Those two are President George W. Bush in 2000 and President Donald Trump in 2016. In the more recent election where Donald Trump won according to a separate Article, his opponent, Hillary Clinton won by almost 2.9 million votes with 48.2% and Donald Trump with a respective 46.1% of the population. Clinton won the popular vote by 2.1%, which is the third largest margin to win the popular vote and not gain presidency. It only ranking behind Hayes in 1876 at 3.0%, and Adams in 1824 at 10.4%. To me this is very interesting because the only other elections that ranked above the 2016 election, occurred in the 1800’s. Another interesting thing that I learned was the concern over Donald Trump’s tweets. The first tweet was on November 6th, 2012 and it reads: “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.” The second was on March 19th, 2019 and it reads: “… just the large States – the cities would end up running the Country. Smaller States & the entire Midwest would end up losing all power – & we can’t let that happen. I used to like the idea of the Popular Vote, but now realize the Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A.” This is very concerning to me because only 4 years before his campaign that lead to his election, he thought the electoral college was holding democracy and the United States back. Yet after he got won the 2016 election by winning the electoral vote, he flips sides and plays the complete opposite roll. In my eyes its more controversial now that all the new democratic candidates running for president in the 2020 election are trying to get rid of the electoral college. I think that there could definitely be work to the electoral college, but I do not believe that it should be completely removed.

  14. Cameron Craig February 14, 2020 at 6:09 pm #

    The amazing, disgusting, problem solving, and the destructive electoral college. These are the things I always hear when such a topic is discussed, and not only from one party or the other. A few things discussed though in this article made my head tilt a little bit in confusion. Starting with my first point that I do not quite understand is how Codrington stated that there is no constitutional justification for the electoral college when clearly Article II Section 1 states that the proceedings of the electoral college are to be followed. Yes, the terms electoral college are not directly stated, but neither was the US Treasury and its inherent powers. This same idea which was debated and pushed is under the same understanding as it is today. The argument then, was that it was unconstitutional because nowhere did it say the federal system could charter banks and there was no outlining of the terms US Treasury. The same argument applies here because no, the term “Electoral College” is not in the constitution, but the basis of the Electoral College is under the second line of Article II Section 1.
    The second head-turning moment for me was when I finished the article and saw no points on why the electoral college is put in place and what good comes from the electoral college. Starting with the issue of faithless electors, both parties had them which was a total of 7 (5 for Trump/ 2 for Clinton). Neither side gets away with not having faithless electors and both sides are to blame. Even without these faithless electors, Trump would have still won with a majority of 304-227, in which you need 271 votes to win. So why did Clinton have more votes publicly and still lose in the Electoral College? This stems from multiple things such as representation issues. One big state such as California has 55 electorates while smaller states have only a few with only 3 electors and close to the same populations. This is where the issues are, not the system itself, but the total electorates for the state. Touching more on this I believe it would be better addressing the issues at hand rather than removing it altogether.

  15. Arthur Knowler February 14, 2020 at 6:17 pm #

    The electoral college, while in theory promotes a fair and balanced election, creates an unfair system in which the majority can be silenced due to the unfair advantage a single state can have in an election. The principles of democracy call for every person to have a say in the outcome of crucial elections. With the electoral college, it is not guaranteed that a person’s vote truly has any significance in an election. Many argue that if the electoral college was to be disbanded, smaller states would be at a disadvantage to larger states; however, that really should not matter. One could argue the same same thing in the other view, bigger states are truly at the disadvantage when they can win the popular vote but lose because of votes in a state with almost a quarter of the people that live there. Regardless of whether a state is large or small, the idea of the electoral college is illogical and overly complex, to begin with. I think that in a true democracy, every single vote should count. As someone who lives in California, I have come to understand that a single person vote in California is insignificant because the overwhelming population votes democratic. If the electoral college was not in place, every single person in California would have a significant vote in the election. Along with this, the electoral college doesn’t necessarily require electors to vote for the nominees they pledged to vote for. These electors are called “faithless electors” and there are laws in place to prevent them in only 29 states and the District of Columbia. That means there are 21 states in the country in which electors could switch their votes without the knowledge of the citizens in the state. This innate flaw in the laws surrounding the electoral college proves its extreme unfairness to both people in small and large states. At the time that the electoral college was conceived, it made sense to leave the voting to those who were more educated. However, with improved communication and the availability of the internet, there is no reason that the American people need representatives to vote for them. The electoral college stole the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton and the democratic party, as well as the people who voted for the majority.

  16. Tony Reid February 14, 2020 at 9:41 pm #

    The Electoral College has been around for over two centuries. We most recently saw the impact that the Electoral College has on our country in the past presidential election. As stated in the article, President Donald Trump lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes yet was still victorious in the election all because of the Electoral College. Controversy has always accompanied the Electoral College and I’m sure that will continue to be the case, especially if the next election has the same results as the last in regards to the winner losing the popular vote. If there has been so much controversy surrounding the Electoral College, my question as I’m certain many others question as well, why haven’t our government abolished it as a whole?
    Jurisdiction is defined as a court’s authority to decide on a particular case based on who the parties are and the subject matter of the dispute. It would certainly be within the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to reach a verdict that would ultimately see the Electoral College abolished. The current system is flawed without a doubt. The faithless electors incident in 2016 is just another example of how flawed the system is. Granted, the Supreme Court case acceptance rate is extremely low. This particular instance has a good chance to reach the Supreme Court. Rather than trying to patch the flaws or find a quick fix, we would honestly make out better if the Electoral College was abolished completely.

  17. Maria Brock February 14, 2020 at 10:13 pm #

    The electoral college was established because the framers of the constitution were nervous about direct democracy. Direct democracy, of course, is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. Most established democracies don’t practice this form of government. An indirect, or representative democracy a type of democracy founded on the principle of elected officials representing a group of people. Hence, the electoral college. Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States all practice this form of government. The idea here is that the representatives know what’s best for the body of people they represent.
    Representatives are chosen by citizens to serve in legislative bodies and to voice their concerns to the government. When the articles of confederation were in play the states held too much power and were not balanced. Therefore, the founders adopted the constitution to prevent any one person, state, or body of government from impeding on the other.

    The electoral college is not only a way to balance the interests of more densely populated states and less populated states. The United States’ political divisions have more consistently been between the north and the south, and between the coasts and the interior. Because certain presidents represent and stand for issues that resonate differently with the many geopolitical opinions the electoral college works in the best interest of the country as a whole.

    While the logic is certainly there, most people don’t see it. It’s easy for people to hear that the most votes doesn’t win. Growing up we the tally system is consistently used. When voting on class superlatives in high school, or what we want to eat for dinner in a group of friends – it’s always most votes won. However, that is certainly a micro dilemma, whereas choosing a president for the country is a macro dilemma. My point being that the thoughts and opinions of citizens are way more local then they recognize. When the popular vote and the electoral vote don’t favor the same candidate’s controversy erupts because most people are unaware of the processes behind the college. The reaction is that one party was “jipped” or one candidate “stole” the election from the other.

    After all, the senators who represent the people are chosen by the people, so the direct vote is implemented there in the local scope. There are distinct laws that senators must vote for the candidate who won the popular majority for their region. In terms of the 2016 election, all of the senators who violated this law were penalized.

    Furthermore, the abandonment of the electoral college is much more complicated then it may seem. Fully changing the process by which the president of the United States is would take the ratification of an amendment. This, in turn, demands the votes of two-thirds of the House of Representatives as well as two-thirds of the Senate and an additional three-fourths of the states. There is currently a compact in discussion in which the states agree to allocate their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. This compact, however, cannot work until states with a minimum of 270 electoral votes between them, otherwise known as the amount required to elect a president, have signed on. So, at the end of the day, the electoral college is what’s best for the country right now. Unless someone comes up with something other process, that isn’t direct vote or monarchy, it is not a bad process to rely upon.

  18. Roger McCurdy III February 14, 2020 at 11:52 pm #

    The electoral college system is a curious one. On one hand it spreads out the ability to elect the president over the states more equally, but it also has the effect of lessening the weight of an individual vote in some circumstances. In the 2016 election for example, Clinton won the popular vote, but lost the electoral college. But what is the electoral college. They are a chosen group of people who send in their choice for the presidency, which by precedent, had been voted on by the people of their state. But, in theory they could vote for whoever they want.

    This is a silly thought, but yes, they can defy all precedence and choose whoever they want. This seems like an awfully big loophole to leave in, which is why many states require their representatives to vote with the popular vote of the state by law. Yet, some states do not. This could be potentially problematic as it could take the power of electing the president out of the hands of the people. This would push us more toward the realms of a dictatorship or oligarchy.

    The issue is not imminent though, because of the nature of the political system currently, it is highly likely that the representative would vote for the popular choice. This is because the chosen representatives are from the same party as the presidential candidate that was chosen. Therefore, crisis averted, all is well, or is it? In the future there could be collusion and deceit which, in a nightmare scenario, could end up with a completely illegitimate president, in that they were not voted by the people. This is a current issue that should be closed up immediately, whether it be through eliminating the electoral college and electing the president through popular vote, or amending the process so that the state’s choice is automatically awarded the electoral college votes.

    The two cases going to the Supreme Court should have a large impact on the future of the electoral college. Only time will tell.

  19. Mike W February 17, 2020 at 9:45 am #

    The electoral college brings to the forefront many interesting arguments from supporters and opposers. This topic has been debated for many years and reignites with every presidential election, especially if it produces a result opposite of the popular vote. The electoral college has seen a few cases where the national popular vote lost the election because it was opposite of the electoral college votes. This situation happened during the Bush vs Gore election in Florida, and more recently during the Trump vs Clinton election in 2016. As discussed in the article, the possibilities for changes to the electoral college could come about through constitutional amendments or another method such as an agreement among states to award their electoral votes based on who wins the popular vote.
    In recent years, there have been a few cases of faithless electors who voted opposite their states popular vote which violated a pledge under their state law. These cases have been sent to the supreme court for review and decision on how to move forward. The supreme court may deny their requests to hear the cases which would keep the current decisions to remain in effect. On the other hand, the supreme court can advise on these cases with a few outcomes possible. The supreme court can advise that the states have the power to sanction and remove electors who faithlessly vote, they can advise that the states can sanction but not remove these electors or they can advise the states don’t have the power to sanction or remove the electors. These cases brought to the supreme court may have a serious impact on the overall actions and power of states towards the electors and how the electoral college is dealt with moving forward.
    This article was an informative and intriguing read into better understanding the electoral college and the effects of important position that the electors hold. The electoral college is an outdated and unnecessary process for our country currently. When created, the necessity of the electoral college made more sense, especially because of the vastly different populated states in the early years of the United States. With the increase of population throughout our country, it would be better understood to take everyone’s vote equally through the popular vote. Another reason for the tarnished usage of the electoral college is the practice of the party system. The complicated and possible corruption of the electoral college leads me to believe the usage of a simpler direct voting system would be more beneficial and honest for our country.

  20. Erin Shaklee March 13, 2020 at 8:06 pm #

    Wilfred U. Codrington III article, “ Can the Members of the Electoral College Choose who they Vote for?” explains the concepts behind the electoral college, and its large impact on our democracies elections. Many of American citizens knowledge on the electoral college only extends to the idea that they believe this is the true reasoning behind why President Trump is our current president, and aren’t aware of much more than that. Even before reading this particular article, I firmly believe that the electoral college was originally created to ensure that smaller states get equal representation for their choice in political candidates. Without this, urban areas with higher, denser populations would control the popular vote, leaving the less populated states out the equation. After reading this article, I now know that the system in place is definitely flawed, and I can see where many political disputes based around corruption could arise. Condrington discusses multiple electoral college cases that took place in the 2016 presidential election; the first one, he explains that three electors betrayed their pledge to vote for Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, and proceeded to vote for Colin Powell instead. Many questions ethical questions arise from this, and because of their alternatively motivated acts, they had to a face a financial penalty as ordered by the Supreme Court. The other cases he discussed follow the same precedent; an elector voted for someone other than their regions popular vote. This concept to me seems confusing and corrupted, especially due to the fact that there is not much mention of the electoral college in the constitution. This limited bribery could easily expand throughout the entire election process without the American people knowing. Now, electors face penalties if they do not follow the people’s vote, yet there is nothing stopping people from further extorting the electors by simply paying them to follow a specific vote. With no real precedent or constitutional argument to follow, the Supreme Court has not authority to set any regulations to prevent any sort of bribery from taking place.

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