The Electoral College Should Be Abolished and Replaced in the American Voting System
Debate Rounds (4)
Round 1: Rules/Acceptance
Round 2: Opening Statements (no Rebuttals allowed)
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Closing Statements (see important rule regarding this section below)
I will be arguing that the Electoral College is no longer needed for Presidential Elections and should be replaced with another system. Con will argue that the Electoral College is still a relevant and just system for determining the President, and is the best way of determining the President.
The Electoral College is the current system of which the United States of America votes for President, and has been the only system in place since the country's origin.
This system determines a winner of the Presidential Election based upon which candidate earned (currently) 270 "Electoral Votes", with each state having an amount of electoral votes determined by population (or, in more detail, a total of Senators and House Representatives in the state).
This system has come under fire recently, most notably during the 2000 Election between George W. Bush (271 EV) and Al Gore (266 EV), after a close and controversial race in Florida essentially decided the entire national election.
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To understand why the Electoral College is a flawed system, we must first understand why the system was created in the first place. In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton (a very important Framer in our nation's history) writes that the Constitution makes sure "...that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications." He also writes that the President should be voted in "..."by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station" (1).
In summary, the Framers of the Constitution did not trust the people of the United States to make informed decisions regarding the election of the President. Alexander Hamilton believed that people running for President could easily be unqualified for the position, and believed that the American people were ignorant (or even stupid) enough to vote for such a candidate.
Logically, though, this was probably the best system available given the technology available at the the time. Even if the US was the most literate people in the world (hypothetically, I don't have statistics proving this), the lack of high speed transportation meant candidates couldn't exactly get their messages across easily. This, most likely, meant that political platforms and ideologies of candidates had to be spread by propaganda and word-of-mouth. Obviously, this medium to share knowledge can easily be corrupted, so having an extra layer to check the voters' decision made sense.
However, we are now in a different time period. We have planes that can get a candidate across the entire nation in a few hours. Candidates can now share their ideas and platforms directly to the populace via televised debates, the Internet, and having the ability to hold rallies in multiple states in a single day. Corrupting a candidate's platform due to misinformation is no longer a problem. So, currently, the only explanation as to why we still have the Electoral College is either because the government is still afraid of the American people making decisions, or because of tradition.
So why should we get rid of the Electoral College if it has worked reasonably well up to this point? Wouldn't it be easier to just live with the current system? No. The Electoral College is fundamentally broken in multiple ways, and with our current technology there is no reason why we shouldn't move to a popular vote system.
The Electoral College in and of itself is not representative of the nation as a whole. If you compare state populations to the number of electoral votes in each state, the ratio of votes per person differs wildly. For example, according to FairVote.org (2), in 2008 California had 36,756,666 people living within its boarders, and had 55 electoral votes. This equates to roughly 668,303 people in California are represented by every electoral vote. Compare that to Wyoming. Wyoming had a population of 532,668 during the same year, with 3 electoral votes. This means that for every 177,556 people in the state, an electoral vote was received. Since every electoral vote is weighted the same in the General Election, this means that Wyoming essentially has more relative power in determining the President than California. 177,556 people in Wyoming have the same amount of power as 668,303 people in California. This is inherently unfair when determining the President of the entire United States. This kind of unfairness is what allows candidates to win the General Election without getting more popular votes that his/her opponent, as we saw in the 2000 election when George W. Bush won the election while losing the Popular Vote to Al Gore.
Additionally, the winner-take-all system can mean that half of the nation's votes can become useless. According to The National Archives and Records Administration (3), in most states in the Union, the amount of electoral votes a candidate wins is not proportional to the amount of actual votes are earned. Whichever candidate takes the most amount of votes in 48 out of 50 states wins all the electoral votes of that state. This means that if 10 million voters in California vote for Candidate A, and 9.8 million voters vote for Candidate B, those 9.8 million votes for the latter candidate are essentially ignored and have no meaning. Isn't it strange that in a nation where the citizens fought so hard to earn the right to vote, we have a system where only the votes that break a tie are important? Why don't we have a system where every vote is important when the election for the highest office of the nation rolls around? A straight popular vote would ensure that every vote, whether it's on the winning or losing side in a state, would count towards the election of the President.
Finally, the electors themselves and become corrupted. When you vote for President, you vote for an Elector who actually votes for President. However, according to FairVote.org (4), 21 states do not actually require the Electors to vote for the candidate their state voted for. Electors that vote against their state's election outcome are called "Faithless Electors". In history, there have been 157 Electoral Votes like this. While many votes were due to the original candidate dying before the Electoral College cast their ballots, 82 Electoral Votes were changed due to "personal initiative of the elector". There hasn't been an instance in which faithless electors actually changed the outcome of the election, but it is possible due to this system. For example, 23 Virginian Electors decided to change their votes in 1836 due to personal initiative. This is a large swing when you consider that some Presidential races, like the one in 2000, was decided by less than 10 Electoral Votes. We should not have a system where it is possible for a small amount of citizens who are entrusted with voting for the President can easily (and usually without consequence) completely ignore the voters of which they serve. Imagine if the 2016 Election was very close and was decided by less than 10 Electoral Votes. Then, you find out a couple weeks later that the candidate that was set to win the Presidency lost due to a few Electors deciding to ignore the populace and voting for who they wanted. How would that be fair? How would the populace react? We should not have a system where a select few decide who wins the Presidency while ignoring the rest of the citizens of the nation.
The Electoral College is a broken system that should be replaced with a Popular Vote system due to these reasons. A Popular Vote system is a fairer and simpler way to determining the President than our current system.
(1): Text of Federalist Paper #68: http://avalon.law.yale.edu...
(2): Page contains PDF showing 2008 populations vs. Electoral Votes per state: http://www.fairvote.org...
(3): Electoral College FAQ by the National Archives and Records Administration. Used for distinction of Winner-Take-All system: http://www.archives.gov...
(4): Faithless Electors Section: http://www.fairvote.org...
In particular, as opposed to a country that is governed based on a parlimentary system, the winner take all system is capable of preventing a coalition from occurring because this system only elects the candidates who attain the majority of the votes. However, In a parlimentary system functioning government, the candidates who attain five percent of the votes are proportionaly granted the same amount of delegates. With that being said, if the United States creates the presidental process to be selected based on a direct democracy radical candidates will be capable of seeking power within a year. However, the electoral college designs a two party system in which it prevents third party candidates from gaining power.
In addition, the electoral process is an effective process in terms of selecting a president because like big states small states are also equally represented in the electoral proccess. According to Article 1 section 2 the house of Representatives is capable of selecting who becomes the president of the United states if any of the candidates do not attain 270 votes in the electoral college the house of reps selects who becomes the president by using state delegation. Therefore, this allows both large and small states to only attain one vote when selecting the president. Therefore, the small state will be as effective as the big state in the electoral process.
In the same essence, the electoral college should remain as the official process for electing the president due to it causing candidates to focus more on independents than on straight ticket voters. For Instance, throughout the past two decades it has been evident that California has the tendency of voting for a presidental candidate with a liberal ideology. Therefore, in the electoral process it causes candidates to focus mostly on states that are considered swing meaning that they could vote for any type of candidates. By doing so, this is a crucial element in representation because the constituents living in swing states compose all aspects of America's demographics. WIth that being said it encourages candidates to also use retail politics, meaning that candidates are actually capable of attending in local events in order to target the independent voters.
The founding fathers established a winner-take all system in the electoral process in order to prevent radical candidates from forming a coalition because those third party candidates are incapable of negotiating with moderate candidates since they do not attain electoral votes proportionally to their polls.
My opponent argues that the current system sustains the current two-party system effectively. This, I agree, is true. However, who says the two party system is even effective? I'l try to keep this short, as this topic is probably more suitable for a different debate, but I think most people will agree with me when I say that a system that seperates people into two different groups isn't effective. Most people in the US aren't simply blue or red, but have many different ideological beliefs that aren't necessarily represented well in the current system. Additionally, I don't think a Congress where (according to USNews.com, citing research from UCLA, 1) 70% of "major bills" are fillibustered is representative of a well-funtioning two-party system. If anything, the two party system supports endless bickering between representatives and citizens simply because they are a different party. In fact, most of our founding fathers dreaded a party system, including John Adams and George Washington.
"There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties"
"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism."
I'd say it would be more effective to abolish the party system altogether because of these points, but I digress.
As for my opponent claiming that it would prevent voters from choosing unsuitable candidates, I already touched on that in my opening. Citizens have much more information available to them than 200 years ago in order to make an informed choice. Now, citizens actually using that information is a different story. Abolishing the Electoral College would not change the usage of these mediums negatively in any way. In fact, according to a Yale study from 2003 (2), people tend to vote by party rather than personal preference (another reason to abolish the party system), so it doesn't seem like many people use these mediums to begin with.
We still have the nomination voting system based on delegates in order to weed out bad candidates. That wouldn't change if you abolished the electoral college. If there were any place for people like Donald Trump to lose the election, it would be during the Republican National Convention where the delegates would switch their votes so that he doesn't become the nominee. The Electoral College only applies (at least in my argument) to the general election, not the fight for the nomination, so the candidates should already be filtered by the government before the NC is even involved.
Finally, the issue of small vs. big states. My opponent argues that the EC allows small states to have their voice heard. This is true. The small states do have their voices heard in the current system. However, that does not mean that the voice of every citizen is heard in this system. Instead of thinking of this as a state issue, we should be thinking of this as a populus issue. There is more than one ideology in every state. The current system ensures that only the majority of every state has their voice heard due to the winner-take-all system. Abolishing this system would ensure that even the voice of the minority voter is heard on the national level.
If the 2000 election taught us anything, it's that states don't follow one big ideology. If you look at the spread of the 2000 election by infoplease.com (3), you can see just close the race really was. In California, Gore won by 5.8 million to 4.5 million votes. We consider California to be a state that is predominately Liberal, but we fail to comprehend how close it truly is. Because of the current system, the 4.5 million people that voted for Bush in 2000 got ignored on the national level. Same with Texas. 2.5 million people got ignored because they voted for Gore. Finally, look at states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Missouri. All of these states are not swing states by any means, yet their elections came down to a less than 4 point difference in the election. However, I can almost garuntee that these states weren't campaigned in very much because they weren't swing states. The EC tends to make candidates focus most of their time in "swing states", neglecting the fact that most voters can be swayed with the right campaigning (therefore swinging the elction). We should not look at the election as a collection of states, as that minimizes the impact of ideological minority votes. We should look at the election as one of the people, by the people, and for the people, not the states. But the EC, however, forces candidates to look at the country as vote-giving states rather than as people, which is simply against what this country is built on.
Even if we were to abolish just the winner-take-all system from the EC (in favor of a proportional system), we would still have the issue of faithless electors and the voter:electoral vote ratio inequality to contend with that make it a worse system than a direct election.
(1): Fillibuster: http://www.usnews.com...
(2): Yale Study: http://news.yale.edu...
(3): Spread of 2000 Election by state: http://www.infoplease.com...
Kelark1 forfeited this round.
The Electoral College is fundamentally flawed. There are no aspects of the system that make it better than a direct popular vote. It gives smaller states more power than others, allows Electors to completely ignore the election outcomes of the states they are representing, allows the voices of at least 49.9% of state voters to remain unheard due to the winner-take-all system, and sustains the flawed two-party system that even our founding fathers were afraid of when they created this nation. The Electoral College was originally created as a buffer between the government and the people, because the government did not trust the people of the USA. In a country that was made Of the People, By the People, and For the People, this kind of system that completely ignores the people should not exist. It's time to ratify a 28th Amendment to the Constitution to abolish this undemocratic system.
Kelark1 forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by JustAnotherFloridaGuy 7 months ago
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