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Topics Homepage> The U.S. president should be elected by popular vote

The U.S. president should be elected by popular vote

PRO (3 assertions)

Links to more PRO research:

States passing legislation to stop electoral college

This is an news article that states that there is a movement already to end the electoral college.

 

National Direct Election is good for California

This news article provides historical examples explaining how direct election is better for Americans.

 

Observation 1: The Electoral System in the U.S. has worked well for centuries, there needs to be an extremely compelling reason to re-form our entire election process. We ought not reform legal precedent based off status quo unless we can conclude that A) The status quo has a problem, B) The problem will not go away by itself, C) changing the status quo will fix this problem, and D) the unintended problems from changing the status quo have been evaluated and considered of less significance than the current problem. If my Opponents arguments do not meet all these criteria, you vote Con by default.

Observation 2: The resolution calls for a comparative analysis between DPV (direct popular vote) and Electoral Vote. My Opponent’s position is advocating a change in the status quo, so he must present a coherent voting system in replacement. This means, essentially, that if we want to affirm this resolution we need to have some framework of what our new voting system ought to be. (IE, are votes counted state by state still? Will minority presidents go to the house of representatives? Will all votes still be taken on the same day? ETC.) The proposition must bring this up in order for their case to be valid.

1. Assertion: The electoral college vote is fundamentally undemocratic.

Reasoning/Evidence: Under the current system, it is possible for a Presidential candidate to lose the popular vote, but to be elected by the Electoral College. This has happened four times in the nation's history, most recently in 2000. This is completely undemocratic as it doesn't represent the will of the people. Moreover, the electoral college system does not properly take into account population changes within states because the census only happens every decade. Often, people can be under- or over-represented. The system fails to serve the people.
Four candidates for President have won the White House despite having lost the popular vote: John Quincy Adams in 1824; Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876; Benjamin Harrison in 1888; and George W. Bush in 2000. And in 2004, a shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio would have given John Kerry a majority of the electoral votes, despite President Bush's 3.5 million-vote lead in the nationwide popular vote.
Under the current Electoral College system, candidates focus only on a handful of contested states and ignore the concerns of tens of millions of Americans living in other states; A candidate can lose in 39 states, but still win the Presidency; A candidate can lose the popular vote by more than 10 million votes, but still win the Presidency; A candidate can win 20 million votes in the general election, but win zero electoral votes, as happened to Ross Perot in 1992.

A candidate can win a state's vote, but an elector can refuse to represent the will of a majority of the voters in that state by voting arbitrarily for the losing candidate (this has reportedly happened 9 times since 1820).

More than 6 out of 10 Americans believe we should abolish the electoral college system. To be democratic, we must adhere to the views of citizens.

2. Assertion: The electoral college gives disproportionate weight to the voters of certain citizens.

Reasoning/Evidence: The electoral college tries to give every state whether small or large a say in the elections. But, they fail to see that they give too much power to certain citizens over others, and they give too much power to certain states over others.
For example, a vote by a resident of Wyoming counts about four times more--electorally--than a vote by a California resident. The 10 smallest states in America, by population, control 32 electoral votes. That's 6% of the votes in the Electoral College, yet their population is 7.6 million, or 2% of the national total. Thus 2% of the population controls 6% of the votes for the presidency. Texas has 1 electoral vote for approximately 750,000 voters whereas Wyoming has 1 electoral vote for every 150,000 votes. This is fundamentally unfair to the voters. Smaller states have a disproportionate advantage over larger states because of the two "constant" or "senatorial" electors assigned to each state; In the event of a tie in the Electoral College, the outcome of the election for President is decided by a single vote from each state's delegation in the House of Representatives. This would unfairly grant California's 37 million residents equal status with Wyoming's 500,000 residents. In case of such a deadlock, House members are not bound to vote for the candidate who won their state's election, which has the potential to further distort the will of the majority. Furthermore, voters in regular tossup states have more power than their counterparts in other states.

3. Assertion: Popular vote would increase incentive to vote, which the electoral college system fails to do.

Reasoning/Evidence: Under the electoral college system people have less incentive to vote in states that have been reputed to be strongly Democratic or strongly Republican. They feel their votes don't matter. In a democracy, it is essential to try to increase voter turnout in order to serve the people. Professor Richard J. Cebula, after analyzing elections in various years, concludes in his study that states where one political party strongly dominates the other, the voter participation rate is lower the greater the degree of domination.†Professor Victoria Shineman from the Princeton University further concludes in her study that the abolition of the electoral college would uniformly increase voter turnout throughout the U.S.

CON (3 assertions)

Links to more CON research:

 

Why keep the electoral college?

This is a U.S. government site that provides several reasons for maintaining the electoral college. An opposition team could use the historical arguments to explain that the current system is key to democracy.

 

Grabber:

1) A Washington Post poll found in 2000 after the Bush victory that 6 out of 10 would prefer a popular vote system.

2) These are the results for the 2000 election:
George Bush---50,456,002 votes nationwide 47.87% of total vote
Al Gore---50,999,897 votes nationwide 48.38% of total vote
Others---3,949,201 votes nationwide 3.75% of total vote
In the statistic, it is clear that the largest number of voters voted for Gore. Due mainly to the workings of the Electoral College, their candidate was not elected. In a direct voting system, where the president is chosen by popular vote alone, such a scenario would not arise, as there would be no mechanism to obstruct the voters from selecting the candidate that the largest number of them thought worthy.

1. Assertion: Direct popular vote goes against the original intent of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers.

Reasoning/Evidence: Direct popular vote should not replace the electoral college because it is a step of democratization for the United States. Joe Wolverton author of The New American says, "any democratization of the presidential election process is an affront to the express intent of our Founders. The men who constructed our federal government zealously guarded against permitting the harmful influence of democracy to infect the inner workings of our nation." The United States should not taking steps towards democracy because America is not a democracy for good reason. Alexander Hamilton once said, "We are a Republican government, real liberty is never found in despotism of the extremes of democracy." Any form of democracy within the U.S is not desirable. The John Birch Society's documentary, Overview of America, affirms this by saying, "Democracy itself is not a stable form of government, instead it is the gradual transition from a limited government to the unlimited rule of an oligarchy." Any form of democracy is not desirable because it assists in the gradual destruction of a republican government like that of the United States and turns it into a governmental rule of the few that denies individual liberties.

2. Assertion: The electoral college protects small states influence within the presidential elections.

Evidence: According to Kristina Dell, "with a direct popular vote...the selection of the president would often be the biggest, most populous states with little attention paid to smaller ones." Without the electoral college the voices of small states would be drowned out by the larger ones. Bob Nutting of the Maine House Republicans says, "In the election of 2008, because all votes in the electoral college are important, Maine saw candidates and their surrogates. If the criteria for winning were the popular vote, they would have camped out in California, Texas, New York, Florida and other populous states." This is sourced from CNN article, Electoral College Explained. The electoral college is a necessity in order to give small states the right to have a voice in presidential elections which is why I urge a negative ballot for today's debate.

3. Assertion: The electoral college preserves a moderate government.

Evidence: "Without a two-party competition, it would almost be impossible to win a true sizable plurality of at least forty percent. Compromises and concessions would vanish, and a candidate could represent all fifty states by winning the vote with a minimal plurality. True representation would cease to exist because it would not be needed to win. Instead, a minority party could represent a select group with large numbers and disregard the many important compromises needed to gain these votes under a two party system.

Instead of the landslide victories requires by the electoral college (Half of the electoral votes, plus one) with DPV the winning candidate is whoever gains the most votes--even if that doesn't constitute a majority. The minority president disadvantage is more likely to occur under DPV than the status quo.