The Electoral College Should be Abolished
Debate Rounds (4)
The debate will be structured as follows:
Round 1: acceptance
Round 2: opening arguments
Round 3: rebuttals
Round 4: closing arguments
A common criticism of the modern electoral college is that it allows for a presidential candidate who did not win the national popular vote to win the presidential election, as has happened in the presidential elections of 1824, 1876,1888, and most recently in 2000, when George W. Bush lost the election to Al Gore, despite Al Gore winning the popular vote. I will not argue against this criticism, because it is just one of many points that I will try to make in favor of abolishing the electoral college. What is important to note is that there have been a total of fifty-six presidential elections in the United States since the first one took place in 1788. Having four elections out of fifty-six go against the winner of the national popular vote constitutes a failure rate of roughly seven percent. for the United States presidential election process. Now while one might assume that four failures is nothing worth noting, assuming every election in the United States had was operated under a system that had a similar failure rate as the electoral college, then you would see failures across all levels of government, state, local, and national alike.
Another point to make is that even when the electoral college winner is also the popular vote winner, the election results are often vastly distorted, two prime examples of this include the elections of 2008 and 2012, in which Barack Obama respectively won the presidency by 365 and 332 votes in the electoral college, but the popular vote was much closer in both cases with Obama winning the popular vote by 53 percent and 51 percent in 2008 and 2012 respectively. This is largely due to the winner-take-all method that most states use to distribute their electoral votes, save for Nebraska and Maine, where a candidate just needs to win a simple majority of votes in one state and that candidate gets all of that states electoral votes. This has the unfortunate consequence of creating swing states, where candidates focus most of their resources and fundraising to try and win votes in those states. since winning by large margins is no more important than winning by smaller margins.
Now, one common argument in favor of keeping the electoral college is that it gives smaller states more weight in presidential election processes, thus forcing presidential candidates to focus more of their resources on them. I would have to strongly disagree with this argument based simply on how many votes swing states hold. As a point of reference, here is a list of all the swing states in 2012 listed by number of electoral votes.
North Carolina: 15
New Hampshire: 4
So out of all the swing states, only half of them had fewer than ten electoral votes, and Florida happens to have more electoral votes than the four smallest swing states combined. So what we have with the electoral college is a system that fails seven percent of the time, distorts margins of victory for winners, and fails to protect the interests of smaller states. For those three reasons, as well as many others, that I will argue that the electoral college should be abolished and replaced with a national popular vote.
Reasons to keep the Electoral College:
1) The Electoral College creates certainty of outcomes
A dispute or problem in certifying Electoral College votes can happen(it did in the 2000 election) but is vary rare and much less likely than a dispute over a nationwide popular vote This is because the winning candidate's Electoral votes will almost always exceed the popular vote. This makes the outcome easier to determine. For example Obama received 61% of the electoral vote but only 51.5% of the popular vote. Also, having the Electoral College creates 50 smaller presidential elections making outcomes and vote counting easier to manage.
2) You get a president that represents everyone
Having the Electoral College means that a presidential candidate must have trans-regional appeal. No specific region of the country(Midwest, south, west, east coast, plains, etc...) has enough electoral votes to carry the election alone. This forces candidates to not just appeal or spend money in high population centers but rather to have a wide appeal in all areas of the nation. Generally a candidate with only regional appeal to population centers will have a hard time as president especially in terms of working with the legislature.
3) The Electoral College preserves federalism
The Electoral College system preserves the role for state governments and duly elected state legislatures in the presidential election process thus preserving federalism, a key component of the republic instituted by the founders. With a popular vote only system you destroy the separation of power in conducting elections at the state level by nationalizing the electoral process. One could argue this has already been done by the Supreme Court hearing Bush v. Gore however maintaining the College will preserve the role for states and prevent further erosion.
There are many other arguments that could be made for keeping the Electoral College but these main points carry the most weight. I look forward to pro addressing these claims as well as being able to address pro's main claims.
1) My opponent argues that getting rid of the electoral college would create uncertainty in the presidential election process because the national popular vote would be much more likely than a dispute over the electoral college votes. I would have to challenge this claim on the grounds that if there is a dispute over electoral votes, it is usually because the results of an election in one state are so close that a recount is often necessary, as was the case in Florida in 2000 and North Carolina in 2008. If the national popular vote was close enough that a nationwide recount would be deemed necessary, then that would likely signal a problem with how the national popular vote was counted, as such, every vote from every precinct would have to be recounted due to the scale of a national popular vote system. This of course leads into another supporting argument my opponent made, which is that the current electoral college system creates separate elections in each state, allowing for easier vote counting. The problem with this argument is that the process of counting votes is handled by individual voting precincts, which number in the thousands nationwide, thus sharing the task of counting votes nationwide, thus allowing for errors in how votes are counted to be screened out. Unless this changes under a national popular vote, then such a supporting argument is invalid.
My opponent's second argument is that the electoral college requires presidential candidates to have nationwide appeal in order to win an election. This argument ignores the issue of partisanship that is common in American politics, where voters will often vote for a candidate who shares party membership with groups of voters. For example, here is a list of states that will most likely vote for a candidate from each major political party, sorted from the highest number of electoral votes, to the lowest.
New York: 29
New Jersey: 14
New Mexico: 5
Rhode Island: 4
District of Columbia: 3
Total Democratic: 247
South Carolina: 9
West Virginia: 5
North Dakota: 3
South Dakota: 3
Total Republican: 191
Now, take notice of the states listed, these are states that presidential candidates from both respective parties could be expected to carry with very little if any effort, meaning that candidates often ignore these states in favor of more competitive states during presidential contests. Furthermore, notice the distinct advantage that the Democratic Party holds in the electoral college. As it currently stands, the democratic party would need to win just twenty-three electoral votes to win the presidential election, while the Republican would need to win seventy-nine. If the Democratic party won Florida, which has twenty-nine electoral votes, then that would be enough for them to win the presidency without carrying any other states. This setup means that a Democratic presidential candidate could focus all fundraising, campaign events, and organization on just Florida, while completely ignoring the rest of the country, negating the need for any other appeal nationwide.
3) My opponent's argument here is largely an appeal to consequences, therefore I do not need to address it.
TommyB12 forfeited this round.
TommyB12 forfeited this round.
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