The Instigator
Con (against)
3 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Direct popular vote should replace electoral vote in presidential elections.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/6/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,563 times Debate No: 19153
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




The first round is just for accepting the challenge. This will kind of be like a PF style debate. Second round is our cases and then the third round is rebuttal/clarifications and the last round is the summary/final focus.


Hello, I would like to thank my opponent for posting this topic, as it is a very interesting one. Americans have tried to reform the electoral college system for awhile, but nothing material has ever come from it. I will be arguing the pro side, that a popular vote system should replace the electoral college voting system in presidential elections.

I would like to state that I live in a country (Canada) which uses a direct election method to select all its candidates. We use the first past the post system, but differ in the fact that we do not have presidents. I am familiar with the American system of election, however, and love to follow American politics (Hey, we gotta know what you guys down south are doing!).

Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting my debate and good luck.

I negate the resolution, Resolved: Direct popular vote should replace electoral vote in presidential elections.

Contention One: Ere on the side of caution-the electoral college works.

American democracy has far outpaced any form of democracy in the history of the world. George Washington's peaceful transition to John Adams set a precedent that would be followed for years to come-that citizens of the United States would follow an orderly method of governing themselves. The electoral college has been the guiding hand in this incredibly successful system. As a panel of senators on the judiciary committee pointed out, "It is not sufficient for the partisans of direct election to argue that the electoral college is somehow defective. All mode of election are less than perfect, all provide certain benefits at the expense of certain other." The Pro in today's debate has an extraordinary burden of proof-it must show that a system which has overwhelmingly worked for over 200 years ought to be thrown away in a blink of an eye. The stakes are immensely high. The United States is the leading power in the world, it cannot afford-the world cannot afford-for even one election of the executive to be called into question. As two professors noted in the Journal of Public Choice, the public debate rages on and "If, with the advantage of 200 or so years of data on how an institution operates, we cannot agree on what it does, we must express even greater skepticism about our ability to predict what some new institution for electing the president will do." It is entirely noteworthy to uphold the electoral college because it is a system we know: a reliable and stable form of democracy.

Contention Two: Direct popular vote is flawed in many ways.

Proponents of a direct popular vote too often over simplify the question at hand. They fail to realize that, like any other system, direct popular vote will be vulnerable to numerous problems. One such problem is the increased threat of vote fraud. The electoral college is a series of self-sealing containers, so that each state does not influence the outcome of another. If fraud occurs, it is isolated. In a direct election, however, each vote is of premium importance to the national decision. As such, agents within the election will have a far greater decision to manipulate votes. Consider an election that stays in an almost complete deadlock throughout the day. As word travels, the urgency of West Coast votes becomes so great that the temptation to commit fraud by local officials is overwhelming. The election is illegitimate. The electoral college avoids this because even if one county of one state commits fraud, it will not be enough to impact the overall election.
A far greater concern in direct popular vote is the problem of inevitable recounts. As Professor Judith Best argues, "an electoral system should produce a definite, accepted winner and avoid prolonged contests and disputes that create uncertainty and public turmoil." This is the function now played by the Electoral College. To its defenders, it does so in two ways. On, it saves the nation "from the effects of an ambiguous outcome." In this way, it confers the requisite legitimacy even in the face of close elections. And two, it also "protects the nation from the crisis of a disputed election." In a direct popular vote, during a close election, candidates will be too tempted to challenge every result. Whereas before if you carry a state by 10% there is no reason to challenge under the electoral college, now a nationwide deadlock will ensure each state undergoes a recount. The judiciary committee once again explains, If one candidate contests a certain area, his opponent, to protect himself, warns of a contest where he thinks something might have been adverse to him. And in a little while, the whole electorate is involved.

Contention Three: The electoral college creates a reasonable, moderate majority.

The cornerstone of democracy is not majority rule. It is reasonable majority rule with the protection of minority rights. A nation is far better served when moderate ideologies prevail. This government ensures liberty and equality maintain an optimal balance for all citizens. As former senator James Eastland writes, "Because of winner-take-all(under the electoral system), a party is under a strong inducement to extend its platform as widely as possible within each State; it must expand its base of support to carry a popular plurality. Since both major parties face the same requirement, both must campaign in most of the same places before most of the same votes. Both must be hospitable to a wide range of minority interest which might otherwise be excluded from electoral competition." This has so many great benefits, including reasonable polices that are widely applicable in nature. Under a direct popular vote, no such system would hold. Candidates must currently be able to get a majority of votes in a statewide election to obtain even a single electoral vote. Ideologically extreme candidates are discouraged from running because they know they cannot appeal to that broad of an electorate. Under direct popular vote, however, there is no need to win statewide majorities and therefore elections will become crowded with extreme candidates. This will further polarize politics as candidates make specific appeals to narrow voter interests. Then, the President will not be elected by a large body politic. He or she will be the voice of only a few.


I affirm the resolution, Resolved: Direct popular vote should replace electoral vote in presidential elections.

There are many reasons as to why a popular system is better than an electoral one, but due to space reasons, I shall limit myself to three contentions.

Contention #1: The electoral vote system is flawed and less democratic than a popular election.
The present system of electoral votes represents an indirect democracy. In this system, citizens cast ballots to select individuals who in turn then vote for a presidential candidate. Allowing individuals to directly select presidential candidates removes this “middle man” and treats each vote equally. The present system was created as blend of a populist and federalist style, allotting each state an amount of votes equal to their Representatives and Senators. Despite the fact that the Constitution allots the President only executive powers, the president is in practice also responsible for dictating their party’s policy. As such, the president’s role is extremely important, affecting each citizen of the United States in an equal manner. The present system allows for the marginalization of citizens, and was born out of the need to compromise with Southern States due to granting suffrage to slaves [1]. Even at its creation, some delegates supported the idea of a popular vote, recognizing it as more democratic.

The unequal representation is further aggravated by the fact that most states (except Maine and Nebraska) follow a winner takes all mentality for the selection of electors. This system makes the popular vote essentially irrelevant as a president can be elected as president without capturing the popular vote. The most popular example is the United States Presidential Election of 2000, which saw Pr. G. W. Bush elected over Al Gore, despite the latter winning the popular vote. In fact, under the present system, the votes cast by the Electoral College usually differ significantly from those of the popular vote (e.g. Barack Obama received 68% of the electoral votes in the last election, but captured only 53% of the popular vote). The use of a winner takes all system creates other problems as well, which will be mentioned later.

Finally, while measures exist in some states to punish faithless electors, it is still a potential problem that could be subject to abuse. Although there has only been one occasion where faithless electors have prevented the selection of an expected candidate (In the 1836 elections, where the expected candidate was elected anyway by the Senate [2]), the problem is still present, and could be abused in a time of crisis or controversy to circumvent the will of the People of the United States.

Contention #2: The present system marginalizes what candidates perceive as “safe states” and gives disproportionate attention to “swing states”.
This problem is birthed out of the winner takes all system that is used in nearly all states to select electors. States which tend to overwhelmingly vote for a particular candidate become less important for campaigning purposes, since minor swings in the vote will not cause a loss of electoral votes as long as the candidate retains plurality. This leads to candidates focusing their efforts on “swing states”, that is, states having a history of voting for either party. Candidates will disproportionately visit these states and spend more money on advertising in these states [3]. To garner votes in such states, issues important to these voters are given disproportionate attention.

Contention #3: Direct popular vote has the support of most US Citizens.
Multiple polls have been conducted on this issue, and a majority of those surveyed support changes to the electoral system [4]. Due to the President’s nature as a representative of American people and interests, both domestically and internationally, the opinions US Citizens hold on this issue is important. This notion has prompted attempts to change the system. One of the most notable occurred during Nixon’s Presidency in the form what is called The Bayh-Celler Amendment. The amendment made it to the Senate, but ultimately died there due to protests from Senators from southern and small states. Another ongoing attempt is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). Under this agreement, the Electoral College will be retained, but electors of states who join the compact will cast ballots for the candidate who captures the popular vote. The NPVIC currently has about half of the electoral votes required achieve a majority in the Electoral College. If and when the NPVIC gains enough electoral votes to come into effect, the electoral system will find itself in need of review. Government ultimately represents the will of the people and history has shown that ultimately, if a significant majority commit to an idea, change can be effected.

Debate Round No. 2


I will rebut my opponent's contentions in this round. Then, he can rebut my contentions and then my rebuttals as well. I guess that is the advantage of going second.

First, I will rebut his third contention of most people supporting popular vote.

I would like to say that popular sentiment is not enough to change our system. Here is a good and informative quote from Senator James Eastland that explains this.

"How, it will be asked, could an idea which enjoys such widespread popular support be so dangerous? The answer, we believe, is to be found in an examination of certain influences which have attended the current debate over electoral reform.

It must be acknowledged, first, that direct election is a simple and easily communicable idea. That fact alone may account for its great popularity and for the widespread and uncritical support it has had from the communications media. Simplicity in the governance of human affairs, however, is not always a virtue; nor is it the distinguishing characteristic of this 200-year-old Republic which seeks to secure the blessings of liberty for 200 millions of people. Human hopes and fears are complex; politics is complex; and the Constitution is complex. Still, simplicity has its charms, and not the least of them is the capacity to conceal danger."

I will next rebut his first and second contention.

He says that faithless electors are a problem. But, even he admits that faithless electors are a rare occurrence. Historically, most electors have actually been faithful to the presidential and vice presidential tickets winning the most votes in their respective states. Only on a few occasions have there been faithless electors and none have changed an outcome of a race.

He says that the Electoral College goes against democracy. But one man, one vote was not the founders' intention. As I said before, the cornerstone of democracy is not majority rule. It is reasonable majority rule with the protection of minority rights. A nation is far better served when moderate ideologies prevail. Nothing could be clearer in the Framer's thought than their rejection of a merely numerical concept of representative government. If the Constitution stands for nothing else, it stands for the idea that mere numbers have no capacity to make legitimate that which is otherwise-illegitimate-whether those number be 51 or 90 percent of the whole. All the unique features of the Constitution are explicit departures from simple majoritarianism. This is true of the federal system, which, among other things, prevents the less populous States from being engulfed by the more populous states; this is true of bicameralism, which divides legislative responsibilities between House and Senate on grounds other than those of population; this is true of the separation of powers, whereby, among other things, great power is invested in a nonelective judiciary; and this is true of the electoral college, which incorporates the Federal principle and grants to each State, however small, a minimum weight of three electoral votes.

Next, I'd like to talk about his contention about problems about winner-take all format. The winner-take all format is beneficial.

Here is a quote from John Samples from CATO institute.

"Of course, states legislatures need not choose a winner take all rule for selecting electors. They could divide electors according to the popular vote if they believed it would attract attention from presidential candidates thereby benefiting their state. But few states do so. That suggest most legislators believe winner take all benefits their state more than the candidate attentition that might come froma division according the the popular vote. Since these legislators are elected by the people, why do we have to reason to think the winner take all system reflects the popular will. This judgment by legislators raises another issue. Why should citizens in a state be concerned about being ignored because of a lack of competition? Voters can easily gather sufficient information from the national media to cast their ballot."

My opponent brings up the Gore/Bush election. First, I would like to say incorrect election results are unlikely and overstated. While the disputed vote in Florida led to a concern about who had legitimately won the Electoral College, most ordinary Americans seemed to have no trouble accepting the notion that the winner of the Electoral College vote was entitled to be president even if some other candidate had won more individual votes. An analogy was made to the World Series, where the winner was the team winning four of seven games, and not the team that had batted in the most runs overall.

As well we would not know if Al Gore had won the popular vote if the popular vote was the method of electing president at that time. This is because candidates probably would have campaigned differently and different results could have occurred.

Next, I'd like to rebut his second contention about candidates only focusing on swing states. According to Johnson, Bonnie from Oxford University, though, no state is structurally more important.

Patterson is correct; competitive states do change all the time. However, because the identities of competitive states change, the spectators change as well. The bias in the Electoral College toward competitive states actually allows different states to be the focus of national attention at different points in time. The Electoral College does not systematically advantage particular states. These findings further undergird the federal-ism defense of the Electoral College.

Lastly, I urge the voters to keep my contentions of voter fraud, moderate ideas prevailing, recount problems, and more in their mind.


Samples, John.

Whitaker, Paige.

James, Eastland.
Johnson, Bonnie


exempli_gratia forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Because my opponent forfeited, I urge a Con vote. Please disregard any future arguments my opponents may make as I will be unable to respond to them


exempli_gratia forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by jjx1 6 years ago
yeah, sorry, I meant 16kadams
Posted by 16kadams 6 years ago
um im not gratia, you should have said no 16kadams, but who cares I know what you mean, and you do not plagerise, you probably have the same scources because there are a few differences.
Posted by jjx1 6 years ago
Yeah, see his account has been closed.
Posted by jjx1 6 years ago
No, gratia, I don't plagiarize. Bozotheclown just dislikes for some reason and seems to have nothing better to do than criticize me. Look at my space debate, where i wrote my own cases. You can see because it says Madison Memorial CS because I copy and posted my own case from word. Even, then he voted against me because he dislikes me. He seems to be following me around. Seriously, bozo, if you keep continuing to do this, I will report you.
Posted by 16kadams 6 years ago
um gratia you need an opening argument, an jjx1 do you plagerise on purpose? Just wondering because that rumor is on all of your debates and I dont know.
Posted by bozotheclown 6 years ago
Nice job jjx1 plagarizing from the foundation briefs!!! Because of your plagarizing i will provide some facts to the pro

-A university of georgia study conlcudes that if direct popular vote were to replace the elctoral vote, voter turnout would increase by 3.1%
-The New York Times writes that 2/3 of the country knows the results before election day, thus discouraging voter turnout
-Jamin Raskin, A professor of constitutional law writes that the US has one of the worst voter turnouts in the democratic world.
-MAKE CON PROVE that the electoral college supports democratic ideals.
-The US government implemented DPV in Iraq and Afghanistan, showing that they do not even trust the system themselves.
-The territories in the US cannot vote under current law, even though it is a fundamental right for US citizens to vote. Plus, they are supposed to under international treaties So, by removing the electoral vote, DPV would be easier to implement for these citizens. Plus, they serve in the military too.
-Lastly, NPV research concludes that 98% of political campaigning is done in 7 swing states... So there is really no balance to this system at all.
Posted by exempli_gratia 6 years ago
Under contention #2 I should have directly stated that the installment of a popular vote system would eliminate the swing state / safe state issue.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct goes to Con due to forfeit. SP/G tied. Pro's arguments seemed better founded, even though he forfeited his last two rounds. Because of the forfeit, I cannot give him the points for this. Con had better sources.