The Instigator
Prestigiously-Poor
Pro (for)
The Contender
Bribri10114
Con (against)

Should the Electoral College be abolished?

Do you like this debate?NoYes+3
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Debate Round Forfeited
Bribri10114 has forfeited round #4.
Our system has not yet updated this debate. Please check back in a few minutes for more options.
Time Remaining
00days00hours00minutes00seconds
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/20/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 532 times Debate No: 99144
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (0)

 

Prestigiously-Poor

Pro

I would like to challenge my opponent to a debate about the electoral college. I would like this debate to be serious and civilized (jokes are OK but don't go off track.) I will be arguing that the electoral college should be abolished, while my opponent will argue that the electoral college should not be abolished.

Use the first round for acceptance. No new arguments on the last round. Goodluck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!
Bribri10114

Con

I accept your challenge and, like you, hope to have a great debate!

Just to establish something, you are taking the stance of completely abolishing the electoral college while I have the side of either upholding the current electoral college or upholding a variant of the electoral college (means that if any of the harms that you bring up can be tweaked in the current electoral college without much change, then it shouldn't weigh in this round).

Definition of electoral college (quick google search): a body of people representing the states of the US, who formally cast votes for the election of the president and vice president.
Debate Round No. 1
Prestigiously-Poor

Pro

I would like to clarify that what I requested to debate was whether the current system of the electoral college should be abolished. By this I mean the winner-take-all system where each state gets assigned electors based on congressional representatives. I will not be debating variants such as reassigning the number of electors or electors voting proportionally, as you can then debate to uphold an electoral college practically equivalent to the popular vote, or any system you like, which of course defeats the whole purpose of the debate. I hope this is okay with you.

The electoral college is the system by which the US elects their president. In most states and DC, it works effectively like this: each state holds their own election for president, and whoever wins that state election gets all of the electoral votes assigned to that state. I say effectively as the actual process is more complicated and not relevant yet. The number of electoral votes assigned to a state is based off of how many congressional representatives they have. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win.

This system is a highly flawed system. First of all, it causes candidates to focus solely on "swing states." In an election, some states will be sure to vote for one candidate, known as safe states, and some are contested, known as swing states. Candidates will focus on swing states due to the winner-take-all system of the electoral college. It is pointless to further extend your lead in a state you are bound to win, and likewise is pointless to decrease your defecit in a state you will not win. The same candidate will get the electoral votes either way. As swing states make up about 30% of the population, this means that candidates ignore about 70% of the population. A system in which 70% of people are ignored is a flawed system.

Secondly, the electoral college assigns more electoral votes per person for smaller states than for large ones (size being population.) This is unfair as well, as all citizens are citizens, and where you live should not determine how much your vote counts. Of course, due to the fact that the electoral college creates swing states, smaller states often do not get any attention at all. In either case, giving people more votes based on where they live is unfair. As an example: some states can split themselves, and this can cause strange logical dilemmas. Take Massachusettes, currently worth 11 electoral votes. You can divide it into nine smaller states while keeping population distribution. The area known as Massachusettes is now worth 27 electoral votes, despite the fact that the same people still live there.

Additionally, this system of giving less populated states does not give rural areas more attention, and electoral college supporters claim these would be ignored if a popular vote system was used instead, and candidates would just campaign in cities. If they really wanted to fix this problem, they should give rural areas more representation, not small states, which can be either rural or urban but geographically small.

Finally, due to the winner-take-all system, it is possible for a candidate to win through the electoral college and lose the vote of the people. They can do this by winning narrowly in some states and losing by larger margins in others, and happened twice in the last five elections. In most other elections, such as the gubernatorial, senate, and house elections, a popular vote system is used. Electoral college supporters may justify this by saying that the US is a republic, not a democracy. When they say this, they are ignoring the fact that republics elect officials to represent them and vote,
Bribri10114

Con

Alright, so in order to accomplish the point of the debate, I will try my best to stick within the current electoral college since in that way we can enjoy a better debate :)

1. Swing States
My opponent argues that the electoral college, because it is a winner takes all system, causes candidates to focus solely on "swing states". This arguement is not inherentely wrong. Swing states do tend to get more attention than other states because they can sway the outcome of the election, however I have 3 responses (Non-Uniqueness, De-Logic, Turn in favor of the negation) .
A) Alternative is no different - While it may seem that moving to a popular vote system may change the system, it won't and therefore makes the argument non-unique. Now the swing states may not have as big of an impact as their population may not be as significant. Therefore the candidates will still campaign in a similar fashion: they will hit all of the states with larger populations. Hence, by abolishing the electoral college, there is no solvency for the problem, but rather it shifts the problem onto larger states, which will get more attention than smaller states. Therefore, because the negative impacts that my opponent brings up will exist in either word, negate.
B) 70% left out? I don't think so... - You mention how the candidates won't campaign in solid states or states that always vote republican or democrat however this is actually false. Texas, my home state, during Trump vs Clinton actually reached a 45%-45% tie and almost swayed democrat for the first time since the universe was born. This is proof that leaving a solid state alone doesn't always work. Don't buy that? Look at the rust belt. The states of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin voted Republican instead of Democrat as they have in the past. Hillary Clinton actually stated she was in Florida during the time Trump campaigned in the rust belt because she assumed she would win those states. Because Trump ended up winning those states and swaying the election in his favor, it proves that campaigning in solid states can prove beneficial for candidates and debunks the argument about how 70% of the US is left out. You can also extend this to the point where, because solid states have actually turned to the other party, people in the solid states are going to know that their vote can matter thereby alleviating the problem that you brought up "citizens are citizens".
C) Swing state focus is good! - Because the people in the swing states know that there is more pressure on their vote, they are more likely to keep up with the news and be more knowledgable about the candidates and their respective policies. And if they "decide the election" which I proved that they don't in subpoint B, they will atleast be the more educated voters that influence the election which results in net benefit for good policy and good government. So swing state focus is not inherentely bad, but even if it is, subpoint A and B prove that solid states can be swayed too.

2. Better for small states
This argument really can't be weighed in this round because of the political tactic of gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class. If this is what your were referring to about "some states can split themselves" then rest assured that this happens in every single election and we have seen that because both parties can come out with the win, it's not important. Yes it favors one party over another, but then how would you explain Trump's victory? It comes from good planning on when and where to give speeches and the ideals behind his party. Therefore because redistricting and gerrymandering don't really have a big impact on the election, it can be discontinued in the round. Even if you don't buy that, remember how small states can gain representation by realizing that their are elections that are decided by small margins and at that point, even one electoral vote matters.

3. Rural areas not given more attention
I actually do not understand this point because the first sentence seems to be chopped off? "this system of giving less populated states does not give..." <--Doesn't flow. I hope that you will clarify in your next round.

4. EC Win vs Pop vote win
I promised to take it easy on this one since you didn't finish so I will only speak about the first thing you said and not discuss the whole republic vs democracy argument.
A) My opponent makes it seem common - You say that a candidate winning presidency because of the electoral college vote while losing the popular vote has happened "twice in the last five elections". This makes this phenomenon seem completely terrifying, when in reality aside from Trump vs Clinton in 2016 and Bush vs Gore in 2000, the last time that this happened was in 1888. That's right. This problem which seems to be a downfall of the electoral college doesn't even happen that often. If the last time, aside from twice, that it's happened was in 1888, it shows that the electoral college was effective in the other 40 presidential elections. No system is perfect and there is always a loophole, but the fact that this problem occurred twice recently can be attributed to polarizing candidates and highly conflicting viewpoints. Frankly, 5 mistakes out of 45 doesn't seem that bad, and considering how it has allowed the U.S. to pick presidents that have helped the United States become the best country in the world speaks of the electoral college's effectiveness.

Side note: I have not provided arguments since it seems the BOP (Burden of Proof) is on the Pro (If I prove that everything the pro says is wrong, then I win anyway).
Debate Round No. 2
Prestigiously-Poor

Pro

Thank you. I will use this round to rebutt your rebuttals. (How do you do bold and stuff?)

1. Swing states
A) The alternative is actually different - First of all, when govenors run, they do not only campaign in densly populated areas. (I'm assuming that's what you meant, as you could have a rural but HUGE state that has a lot of people and would be classified as large.) NY is a perfect example: it's about 50% one major city, so you'd expect candidates campaign almost exclusively there, but that's not quite the case. Here's a link from the New Republic. I know it's biased, but it's a also a reliable source. https://newrepublic.com...
Additionally, it's true that candidates will pay more attention to denser states (but not as much as you might expect.) However, this is probably also a good thing. Candidates will want to appeal to cities, which have a lot of people, and making a lot of people happy is usually better than making just some people happy. Additionally, making swing states favor you isn't exactly getting a balance of people; Republicans often win less than 10% of the black vote, so in most races, candidates won't be catering to too large a group either.
B) 70%? Yes! That's even counting Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota as swing states. Those are Democratic-leaning swing states, which historically lean only around 5% more Democratic than the nation, so I counted them, sorry if that wasn't clear. Its true that the percentage of people living in swing states will rise soon by a bit, but that doesn't change this high disenfranchisement level. Your point that solid states can matter too is thus not really valid. Not to mention, even if solid states did occasionally flip, those citizens still matter less, but that's a bit of a tangent.
C) At first glance, your point might make sense. However, often times, swing states will not be more educated. Voters may care there, but you haven't given evidence as to how that makes them more educated about the situation. Additionally, if the nation as a whole votes, every vote counts, so following your argument, people may be motivated to educate themselves, despite their vote counting less. A Floridian's vote countes much less than a New Hampshirite's, but they still care. In reality though, if you really want the educated to vote, the cities tend to be the most educated areas, and those are Democratic. As a popular vote system would cause candidates to campaign there more often, your argument doesn't work.

2. My example was just to say that your location shouldn't matter. Maybe I wasn't clear about that. What I mean is if you live in Massachussettes, your vote should't count more because less people live where you do.

3. Oops... I should probably proofread a little more next time; I meant giving less populated states more votes. The full point is giving less populous states more votes gives small states more power, not rural areas.

4. This is my mistake. I meant this in the way you say "In my top 4" and mean 4th, not 1st-4th. However, I would choose to go with more recent results as those are more representative of our society. The way I phrased it was misleading. (By the way, it's actually four mistakes, not five; 1824 doesn't count.) However, that doesn't change the fact that the EC has problems. These problems don't come up with a popular vote election; the will of the people is followed more often. (I'm not advocating replace it with anything in particular but instant runoff is a great option.) If the EC messes up a bit more than the popular vote, combined with its other flaws, we should really replace it. When you say that the EC helped us get great presidents, I'd argue it wasn't the EC. Great candidates can become popular, and the EC had nothing to do with it. It did give us Bush and Trump, and I hear Bush was bad. Trump is bad for sure, though Clinton is too.

This brings me to another point: the EC forces two-party systems. As it uses First Past the Post, when a third-party runs, they cause a spoiler effect, hurting who they are closest to. Since the EC votes on a statewide level, third-party candidates have an even lower chance. Thir-party candidates have never won an election since the Republicans and Democrats became dominant, and only came moderately close once, and that was with the popular Theodore Roosevelt. This is what caused the Trump-Clinton dilemma this year.

The burden of proof does lie on me. Just consenting.
Bribri10114

Con

Ah, when you click on submit an argument, just above the text box, it should say "Text" in blue. Click on it and it will turn it into Rich Text where you can Bold Italicize Underline center, change font size or anything else you could possibly want.

1. Swing States
A) I'm not quite sure you can say that governors are indicative of a greater trend. Since governors are voted straight off the ballot, it is illogical to try to attach that logic to the presidential race. When I said densely populated areas, I meant in the big picture (states). So if we decide to go with the every vote counts as 1, then you get the candidates hitting the bigger states and campaigning their. This is basically to counter your argument where you say that small states are gaining increasing power against larger states so the people in the larger states feel marginalized, because in reality, if we change to the other system, we will marginalize the smaller states which looks even worse than marginalizing the larger ones. Your site...yeah I read through it and it seemed overwhelmingly one sided, but that's cool, this is just a debate. It's not the end of the world. But referring to the context of your article, the author of the article actually admits that the candidates would spend more time in larger cities and coasts like New York City, Houston, Atlanta, Nashville, etc.). The only counter argument he proposes is "Isn't it better to distribute your time where one visit packs a bigger punch?" This is false because the population of California and Texas far outweighs any smaller states. Besides, candidates can get their family or representatives to campaign for them in small cities and states. Impact? Spending more time in bigger state marginalizes smaller ones thereby negating the impact that the pro wants to derive. To quickly address the race issue, Republicans often win less than 10% of the black vote. That's true, but that doesn't mean that they won't be catering a large group. Remember that in, let's say Florida, 60.1% of the population is white so even if the Republicans lose the black vote, they still have the white vote.
B) Oh that makes a bit more sense now, but remember, going forward this 70% will diminish drastically! Why? Because of the fact that Hillary Clinton almost won Texas (which wasn't attacked in the previous round). Because, a believed obvious win for Republicans almost went over to the democrats, future candidates are going to be much more careful when assuming that they have won a state. Therefore that 70% no-campaign rate you claim will decrease drastically meaning that the campaigning is going to be more spread out in the U.S. under the current electoral college system.
C) Alright so let me provide you the evidence http://www.slate.com...
Please read point number 3 on the article. But anyway, focus on swing states isn't inherently bad, but even if I completely lose this point (which shouldn't happen anyway), the alternative I mentioned in subpoint A isn't any better so staying with the electoral college is the better solution.

2. Location
You are absolutely right in saying location shouldn't matter, but the fact is, because of gerrymandering that is already occurring, location has and is currently mattering (is that even a word). The alternative system doesn't really provide any better of a solution. If every vote matters, then larger states with a bigger population will get much larger span of attention, therefore location has, is, and will always play a role in the election no matter what system we decide to go with.

3. Rural Areas
Thanks for the clarification! Well, I never actually argued small states give more power to rural areas so you're technically creating a strawman (Logical Fallacy), but again, it's a debate online, not a fight so it's all good :). I'm just going to disregard this point since I never actually brought it up and your argument bases off the assumption that I am saying small states gaining power helps rural areas, which I, again, never claimed.

4. EC vs Pop Vote
Okay I think there was a slight faulty deliverance on my part, I apologize. When you said that the recent results are more representative of our society, it doesn't mean that the electoral college is at fault. I mentioned how we saw unforeseen Democratic states turn red and a republican state almost turn blue. This is a result of polarization, not the electoral college. You're not going to count the 1824 election? Great! That means one less mistake to harm the electoral college. And when you say that great candidates become popular, you're absolutely right. The EC then doesn't play a role in harming "may the best candidate win". Therefore, if the best candidate wins in the election under EC or popular vote, then it shouldn't matter which one we go with and therefore we should stick with the system we have now, which provides the benefits mentioned in point 1 and avoids the hastle of completely reforming the election process.

5. Two Party System
This point, as I understand, is to show that under EC the third party candidate basically doesn't stand a chance. However, is this really because of the EC? I venture to say that under any system, the third party candidate will have a hard time winning and under any system, the third party candidate can sap votes out of whomever they are closest to. This isn't unique to the electoral college system. Under popular vote, if the third party candidate supports policies much like, let's say, the republican candidate, then it is most likely that some republican votes will go over to the third party candidate. This neither helps the third party candidate (Two Party System would still exist) nor the republican party (votes still sapped out). Therefore, under any system, there is still going to be the "spoiler effect". As for the First Past the Post idea, what's wrong with it? Even if we go under popular vote, let's assume there are 200 million votes (for example) if a candidate wins 100,000,001 votes, then he/she wins right? And therefore there would be no reason to continue voting. This saves time and money, which is why I don't see the harm you try to point out. Rather, it's a benefit.

Glad that we can agree on BOP!

Just wanted to say thank you for an awesome debate so far. I'll probably say this at the end too, but you are one of the most civilized and thoroughly knowledgeable debaters I have come up against online and in life. I would like to thank you for this intellectually probing debate and hope that both of us may experience more debates like this one. I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am :).
Debate Round No. 3
Prestigiously-Poor

Pro

Thank you. This is yet another reminder of why arguments written at 1 AM are not impeccable.

1. Swing States (No bold is fine for me)
A) Once again, small states are not going to be ignored. I think you mean rural states. Take DC. It's a low-population state but very urban. However, it gets yet more weight for being small. In a popular-vote system, it wouldn't be ignored just because it's a small state. In a popular vote system, state divisions are arbitrary; the population of your state doesn't matter, more the density. After all, in a popular vote, if there were a state that was half the US but all rural and thus had a relatively high population, it wouldn't be the center of attention, unlike what your argument says. As for my source, it is indeed one-sided, but I was citing the fact that governors don't just campaign in cities; this can be applied to presidential elections using the popular vote. They're both popular vote elections with varying demographics. You can also look at other countries and how they campaign; candidates don't just campaign in cities. Once again, it's not state populations that matter, it's distributions. A candidate won't treat Wyoming and DC the same because they both have low populations under a popular vote system.

As for catering a large group, that's what should happen: you pay attention to the most people to make the most people happy. You gave a state example, which is a mini-popular vote election. Nationwide, candidates care about 30% of the population (Yes, it's increasing), whereas candidates in a popular vote will care about urban areas, 80%, while also not ignoring rural areas, 20%. This is completely fair; you give urban areas more attention because there are more people, but you give rural areas some attention too because there are people there. Just look at how candidates from countries with a popular vote system run their campaigns.

2. Location
With a popular vote, as explained before, large states won't get overrepresented. After all, they do have more people, so they should get proportionally represented. That's what actually happens in a popular vote system. It's indeed a bit skewed towards densly populated areas but it's not as severe as the electoral college's skewing towards swing states. The EC gives only swing states attention, whereas the popular vote gives all places attention, just some more than others.

3. It's not actually a strawman, not in the usual sense. I was trying to make your argument better since the small states argument doesn't make sense; in a popular vote system, it doesn't matter which state you live in. However, there is indeed a rural/urban divide in a popular vote sytstem.

4. On this one, let's take the last eight elections. That's right after the landslide elections, when elections started to get close (and give a higher chance of failure), and just before the modern swing states became swingy, so it should be a decent predictor of how often the electoral college messes up. The electoral college fails here 25% of the time, meaning this is actually quite common. Additionally, no Democratic state turned red, and no Republican state turned blue. Texas had Trump leading by five points, and this was no surprise: Texas has been getting more competitive in each consecutive election. So yes, 70%, (but soon 60%) of the population will still be disenfranchised. Safe states don't matter; the sudden "safe states become competitive meaning all states matter" doesn't happen. Your conclusion in that paragraph becomes falsified by the fact that the EC has failed 25% of the time in recent history. Even if two systems provide the same results, that's under candidates campaigning in the EC system. This means they ignore safe states (Remember those Rust belt states are swing.) Even though they produce the same results most of the time, it disenfranchised most of the population. To recap, the electoral college goes against the will of the people more than you'd think, and even when it doesn't, it disenfranchises most of the population, and this wouldn't happen in a popular vote system. (See point one again.) Regardless of the results, everyone should matter.

Thank you too for this debate. It's often rare to find a civilized debate on the internet. Usually people are disrespectful and don't really debate on facts, especially with things like politics. These debates are very enjoyable but also a bit stressing, but in the end, I find it's worth it. You get to shore up your weaknesses as well as see a different point of view.
This round has not been posted yet.
Debate Round No. 4
This round has not been posted yet.
This round has not been posted yet.
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Prestigiously-Poor 12 months ago
Prestigiously-Poor
Thank you. I knew I was going to win, with that amazing 0-0-0 record!

In all seriousness, this was a really fun debate. It was challenging and thorough, which I find the most interesting type of debate. I still think that the electoral college is bad, though. The fact that only swing states get attention is just insurmountable. (I live in New York, so you know how I feel).
Posted by Bribri10114 12 months ago
Bribri10114
Awesome! I must apologize for forfeiting this debate. I am so caught up in school work and my school's actual debate team (just qualified for TFA State) that I was unable to post in the allotted time frame. I am happy to give you the win as you fully deserve it. I hope to debate you another time on another topic and best of luck on your current endeavors!
Posted by Prestigiously-Poor 12 months ago
Prestigiously-Poor
Me too, I like debating controversial issues, even if I'm debating against my opinion. I previously didn't know how someone could really defend the electoral college, and also didn't feel like my argument was very coherent, nor could I get a good debater who was civilized to debate me. This debate solved all of those issues :)
Posted by Bribri10114 1 year ago
Bribri10114
Frankly I could care less. I guess Im partially against it too. I just feel that popular vote should determine it. But either way I doesnt matter to me. Im just debating this topic because I like debating :)
Posted by Prestigiously-Poor 1 year ago
Prestigiously-Poor
Just wondering, what is your real stance on the electoral college? I personally am against it because it prioritizes swing states and I don't think the benefits of it are really that significant, as I voiced previously.
Posted by Bribri10114 1 year ago
Bribri10114
Ok, I'll attack the other points but I will only partially address your final point.
Posted by Prestigiously-Poor 1 year ago
Prestigiously-Poor
I accidentally submitted my round 2 response early. Please don't respond as if that was my whole argument.
This debate has 2 more rounds before the voting begins. If you want to receive email updates for this debate, click the Add to My Favorites link at the top of the page.