The Instigator
boatfullogoats
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Thoht
Con (against)
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The Electoral College

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/22/2018 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 677 times Debate No: 119119
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
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boatfullogoats

Pro

My argument is that the electoral college should be reserved, At most with minor reforms.

The most important context to understand behind this debate is that we were not modeled as a democracy, And we are not a democracy. We are a republic. The difference is that a republic has representatives, Usually elected by the people, The government does not make actions directly by the vote of the people. In a democracy, People vote directly for government actions. The biggest reason for a republic is the idea of the tyranny of majority, Where the political majority will make decisions undermining the needs of the political minority, As is the case in direct democracy. The founding fathers greatly feared this concept, Where the majority will act against the minority in their votes.

So, They made a government where the minority had relatively fair representation and power, This is why we have a senate and a house. It is a great compromise between the needs of the smaller states and the larger states. The house gives power fairly, Where bigger states have more of a say, The senate gives it unequally, Thus so small states have proper representation and are not ignored. The electoral college is designed directly off of congress, Where each state's electoral votes is their number of senators (2) plus their number of representatives. Thus the electoral college is there so small states have their say, Candidates have to pay attention to the needs of small states.

This is not necessarily my full, Expanded argument but I will expand as the debate continues.
Thoht

Con

Happy to think with you today,

Small note for accuracy, The college votes are 538 total. 2 for each state from senators, 1 per congressman and 3 for Washington D. C. 100 Senators + 435 Congressmen + 3 for D. C. Meaning a majority is 270 for victory.

Here are the problems with the Electoral College, As well as Congress in general.

1. Electoral College Power Per Vote

In some states, One vote is worth 3x or more of one vote from another state. Wymoming has 3. 6x~ the voting power of a Texan. (1) This goes far beyond "protecting the small states. " We have the Senate to protect small states. 2 votes per state no matter how small or large. I submit that the small states are protected by the senate. Each person from smaller states should not have 2x or more voting power than someone from a large state. It's ridiculous. As people from the United States, We get called out quite a bit for the 3/5ths compromise regarding blacks, Yet a Texas vote for president is approximately 1/4th of a Wyoming vote. This is injustice. The difference in voting power has much to do with the Senate being included in the EC, And the unbalanced current HoR. More on this later.

2. The House of Representatives member size has been capped since 1929. (2)

The House of Representatives is supposed to grant large states and small states equal power by population, But it fails at this. The numbers of the HoR hasn't expanded since 1929 when it was frozen by law. When our nation was founded 1 congressmen represented 57k people. Now it is 1 congressmen per 747k people, On average. However, Some states have grown faster than others population wise and are being cheated congressional seats. This furthers the above disparity to the point it is now at, With Texans being worth about a quarter of a vote from Wyoming electoral-college power wise. The HoR should be expanded or redistributed to represent an even number of people. Many believe the state with the smallest population should be the scale we determine HoR seats with. This would go a long way in narrowing the gap, But the states that benefit from the frozen House will likely not support it.

3. EC destroys Minority Representation

Currently in the electoral college the popular vote in a state gives the winning candidate 100% of the EC votes from that state (except for one or two states I believe). Since this is the case, Many states are locked solid democrat or solid republican. The minority from the large states have zero representation when it comes to the presidential election. This means if 55% of a state is Democrat, 45% of that state has no power when it comes to electing the president, And in fact, Are doing their party a disservice by bumping up the numbers of that state. Zero representation destroys voter confidence that their vote means something, And directly lowers turnout.

4. Small States are not Protected with the EC. Only a few states are.

Because of the above fact, Where solid democrat states give all their votes to democrats, Those states that are solidly dem or republican are often ignored. In fact, 6 states received 2/3rds of the visits and money from candidates in 2016. (3) 96% of the events held were in just 12 states. This is seen time and time again election after election. As it currently stands, The president is only really selected by these swing states. (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, And Michigan)

5. Lowest Popular Vote possible for a Win.

The lowest possible amount of the popular vote one can receive in the US and win the electoral college is currently 23%. (4) This means one candidate could have 77% of the popular vote and lose. This is due to the disproportionate voting power of states like Wyoming and the lesser voting power of states like Texas.

This isn't something fixed with "minor reforms" as my opponent suggests. A 54 point landslide victory can currently be a loss. The EC is a broken system to the extreme. Voters lose confidence in the EC primarily during elections where the majority vote loses to the minority vote. I believe Clinton won popular vote by over 2 million and still lost the election. It is a travesty.

To conclude,

Our government could be defined in many ways, Unfortunately the electoral college leaves us with a frozen HoR, Disparity among voting power, And the only ones actually voting the president into office are the swing states, Who receive all the attention and benefits. You have to be able to tell me that there's nothing wrong with Texans getting 1/4th of the voting power of someone from Wyoming, Washington D. C. , Et cetera. You have to tell me, At the same time as you say the HoR is supposed to favor the large states, That it's ok that the small states are also disproportionately represented there because of the freeze. The freeze likely stemming from a desire to not rock the boat in the EC. You have to tell me that it's ok when 40%-49% of a state's population not only has zero representation, But the power of their vote is actively used against their candidate. You have to tell me how the EC protects the small states when 25 states received no visits from either campaign.

You have to say that all of that is OK for you. I submit to the audience it is not fair in these 5 ways. Already, More than 5% of our elections have been won by the person who lost the popular vote. Elections in the future will be the same. Is it acceptable for only a few states to determine our President? Is it acceptable that 23% of the population could determine our President despite the other candidate receiving the other 77%?

It is not.

There is nothing wrong with the president being directly elected. It would increase voter turnout, Give the minorities in non-swing state a voice, Small states would even have more representation than they do now. The HoR could be unfrozen. 23% couldn't win over 77%.

The President of the United States should be one who represents all of the people, Not just those in a handful of swing states.

May your thoughts be clear,

-Thoht
Debate Round No. 1
boatfullogoats

Pro

1. Electoral College Power Per Vote

It's indeed true that those in small states have greater voting power than those in big states. However, I would argue this is still absolutely justifiable, Because it forces presidential candidates to pay attention to the needs of small states just the same way as the senate. I give as an example the election of 2000. People like to focus on Florida as the great bellwether of this election, But people ignore aswell that it was the smaller states, Like West Virginia, A presumed democratic safe state, That decided the election nearly as much as Florida. Because Al Gore ignored the needs of this small state, Essentially, He threw under the bus what was thought to be a safe state, He lost the election. What the effect of the electoral college does is it makes candidates pay attention to states with smaller populations that they normally would have just ignored with a popular vote system. (I will go on to the swing vs safe states argument later if you're wondering about that. ) This system is only ridiculous and injustice in a democracy, Where, Essentially, The whole government is expected to be like the house of reps.

2. Well, I agree! As I said at the beginning, I still support minor reforms, And a reform in Congress like that which would affect the electoral college would be just fine aswell. The house of reps should be an efficient and accurate method of dividing folks by population, But when our population keeps on going up, And the seats don't, It causes issues. The electoral college should not be causing disparity in the votes its given by the house of reps. We are very advanced, Whatever inconvenience that would be caused by adding more representatives can be negated in one way or another.

3. Again, I support minor reforms. The winner takes all system absolutely IS majority rule. In that system, The minority of the state has absolutely no voice. This is why I support a reform where each house electoral vote is divided by popular margin, AKA in a state with 12 electoral votes, Where the candidate won 50%, To the others 40%, To 10% for a thirdparty, The 2 senate votes should be awarded to the winner, And the rest will be divided evenly, So 5-4-1. This negates the majority rule + voter turnout problem and frankly, There should've been some similar action done when the electoral college was founded.

4. The issue of the swing states: The margin reforms I proposed to the electoral college in number three would be pretty much the same way I'd tackle this issue. However, I would also argue a few things. Even without reform, The political climate is always changing. As recently as 1996, The map looked totally different than the year 2000. Like before, If those people in West Virginia just assumed "were a safe state, I shouldnt vote" than that would be their mistake and a vote wasted, They should always be voting. As recently as 2016, Maine, Minnesota, And to an extent Wisconsin, Michigan, And Pennsylvania, Were assumed to be democratic safe states. However, Trump won three of them and got in an incredibly close margin in another two. Yet another example of why the swing states are ALWAYS changing as the climate always changes, Small or large, And why you should always vote. Swing states are a very temporary thing I will add, Back in the day there was constantly landslides because we were a less polarized country. The whole reason for swing states is because of more polarization, Less people in a state leaning one way are willing to vote for the other candidate so their state remains very rigid. Is it not that in a very polarized nation based on the popular vote there would still only be a few places they could appeal to that would be moderate, And a large red and blue area besides it they would ignore?

5. This is an unlikely scenario, And indeed while these things could happen, They would be rare, We have seen in a numerous amount of elections that nothing like this has happened. Beyond that would it not be that my "minor reforms" would negate this?

What the electoral college does is it forces presidential candidates to pay attention to the needs of small states, In the same way congress does, And, With no more than a reform where electoral votes are divided by popular vote margin, Thus preventing the majority rule it creates, It should be kept. It is indeed undemocratic, But we are not a democracy, And it is a necessary means of preserving our Republican form of government.
Thoht

Con

1. "Minor" Reforms

The reforms you state would be almost exactly identical with a popular vote besides a very minor boost to the popular vote winner by state for the senators. You realize this right? This is NOT a minor change to the current system. This is a major change. This means you're effectively against the Electoral College as it stands now. The audience can be the judge of this, But from my view it appears as if you've conceded every point but one, And that one point you're holding on to I've addressed and you did not rebut. It's going to be the only other thing I comment on.

Your proposed system would be major reform, And only marginally different than popular vote. You are effectively con the current EC, Which is what this debate is about.

2. "The Candidates have to pay attention to the needs of the small states. "

You've entirely missed the point that the candidates did not visit 25 out of the 50 states, And 96% of their time and money were spent in 12 states. None of the places they spent the majority of their time was a small state. Your point is invalid unless you can somehow prove that by not spending almost any money and not visiting any of these small states they're somehow prioritizing them over large states. It's an incredibly moot and deficient point. You have to concede this point. It is indefensible.

Your argument is that occasionally states become swing states instead of solidly one party or another, And that is why they have to pay attention to small states? No. They will pay attention to swing states when they're swinging and ignore them when they aren't. This is, Again, Why only 2 'small' states, Depending on how you define small, Were visited even once or twice by the candidates in 2016.

If your suggested major reform goes into effect, Which is essentially 83% or more of a popular vote system, Then of course I would have few problems with it. Of course it would solve the problems. That's exactly what we're debating here. The destruction of the current Electoral College.

3. Republic versus Direct Democracy

Representative numbers are determined by population. Representatives themselves are elected by popular vote, But only per district. Why, If I argue that we should have one federal branch of checks and balances determined by overall popular vote, Is this a bad thing? Why are you appealing to tradition saying "We are a Republic, Therefore no system should be popular vote" while essentially suggesting major reform to the electoral college to practically make it a popular vote system? All you would have to do to become completely popular vote would be to get rid of the votes given to each state based on their senate numbers and it would be virtually indistinguishable from a popular vote system.

Popular vote doesn't mean direct democracy. We aren't voting for policies. We are voting for a candidate who will go on to represent us. This is how it works in Republics. The people vote on representatives to make decisions, And the people hold them accountable when it comes time for reelection. The founding fathers may have had a fear of direct democracy, But popular vote for a presidential candidate is not direct democracy. It's an election of a representative. You have equated popular vote for a representative and direct democracy in your mind, When it is the exact opposite. In republics, Representatives can be elected with any number of systems and it is still a republic. The US government is more accurately described as a 'constitutional republic' or a 'representative democracy. '

To conclude,

We have the House determined by districts in the state, Not even a democratic popular vote per se. Only the number of representatives USED TO BE determined by population, And is no longer. We have the Senate which evenly represents all states regardless of population. This protects the states.

Why are we arguing that we need an additional layer of small state protection when we already have the Senate and when small states are almost universally ignored in our current one? How is this a defense of our current electoral college?

To argue that some people's vote only gets to count for a fourth of another's and that is OK is absurd to the extreme. My guess would be that no founding father would defend it with the current HoR freeze in place. The fathers would probably have an aneurysm if they saw what their system has become.

If we have a spectrum with Popular Vote on one side and our current Electoral college on another, Your suggestions are about 85% of the way to a popular vote. This cannot be considered minor changes.

You've already accepted that the minorities in each state are discouraged from voting and that their numbers are counted against their candidate and that is something that needs to be changed. You've argued that the imbalanced of voting power per person 3. 6:1 is acceptable, Yet you also argue that it needs to be changed, Effectively having your cake and eating it too. You've accepted that 21% of the popular vote COULD determine the presidency, However unlikely, And that would be patently absurd. You've agreed that the HoR being frozen due to EC and large state power, Even though that is the whole reason it exists, Is not desirable. I'm sorry but it sounds like you're against the Electoral College already, Friend.

If you accept the inevitable conclusion that the current EC doesn't protect small states, And that your suggested change is way closer to the popular vote system than the current EC, We are left with you having conceded the entire debate.

I don't think that arguing for a system of EC that is vastly closer to popular vote than our current EC is by any means minor, And it is not by any means a "pro" electoral college position. We aren't debating what the EC could be. We're debating what the EC IS.

May your thoughts be clear,

-Thoht
Debate Round No. 2
boatfullogoats

Pro

1. Whether you think it's minor or major, It is absolutely the intention of the founding fathers reason for implementing the electoral college, And the reforms would still be constitutional. They modeled it off of congress so it would give power to the small states and prevent majority rule. These are NOT major reforms. They tackle the problem of the winner takes all system, And thats it. What it does is exactly what congress does, Gives small states a disproportionate amount of power. These reforms would merely fit more to the vision of the founding fathers, But you are treating it like it is an exact replica of the popular vote system when it really isn't.

2. Did you ignore my criticism of the winner takes all system? This is just what I pointed out, A reformed electoral college would negate this. Beyond this, "They will pay attention to swing states when they're swinging and ignore them when they aren't" Did anyone know that Wisconsin, Maine, And Minnesota, Where the polls showed a significant democrat lead, Ended up becoming swing states? It's not exactly easy to predict when a state will swing, And it is completely possible to flip them if you merely appeal to them, Which is just why Trump did so well in them. Trump appealed well to them and Clinton didn't appeal as well as other candidates.

3. What a reformed electoral system
Thoht

Con

It appears you've conceded the points of attention to small states and the definition of a republic. You haven't addressed them at all in R3. Holding elections by popular vote is not disqualifying for the label of 'republic. ' Otherwise, All of our senators and representatives would disqualify us from being a 'republic. ' They are all voted in by popular vote.

Moving on, To rebut:

1. The electoral college was more of a compromise between the founding fathers, And hastily made on top of that. (1) Many things have changed since they implemented the system. Political parties, Gerrymandering, Campaigns, The HoR freeze, Technology (holding a national election back then was much less practical), And much more. Several of them wanted popular vote, Some wanted congress to elect the president directly, Some wanted state legislatures to elect the president, Et cetera. To pretend this was some unanimous decision among the founding fathers is to attempt to revise history.

Your changes to the EC would be considered major changes. There's really no way around this.

You say HoR shouldn't be frozen. If it was unfrozen, The power gap between texas and wyoming votes would close significantly. California would gain a good deal of seats, Et cetera. There would be over 650-700 Electoral Votes. The senator vote % would diminish to around 13-17%. Maybe even less depending on how the HoR seats were decided. China's equivalent of the HoR has over 2, 000 members. Ours wouldn't likely grow to that size, But over 1, 000 is possible depending on how things played out. Because of this, The senator bonus for winning the majority in each state would likely not be the deciding factor to many elections. In this case, The system is 100% indistinguishable from a pure popular vote. It would likely be similar to how our situation is now with the minority vote winning the election. 5-10% of the time the senators would be significant.

This is absolutely as close as you can get to a pure popular vote system without eliminating the electoral college completely.

2. I haven't ignored your criticism of the winner takes all system. It's one of the primary reasons the EC should be dissolved. You're pointing at 3 states who got several visits from each candidate and ignoring that 25 states were completely ignored and 7 more states got only 1 visit from a candidate or both candidates. It isn't so impressive. Any state that has a chance of swinging will garner some attention. This doesn't go against my point, It actually proves it.

It is not that hard to tell, With all the polling that is done nowadays, When a state is going to be a close race. There's a margin of error, If it falls within a few points of that the state will get attention. You have to show me how Trump 'appealed' to them before you have a shadow of a point. Even then, Again, You're leaving out the 32 states who got 0 or 1 visit from each candidate while holding up 3 states that got more than that.

3. 3rd parties

While it is another minor point the EC discourages 3rd party voters because winning half a state out of nowhere is extremely unlikely. A reform, Or the dissolution, Of the EC would work quite well for it. Leaving the senator votes in as a bonus would hinder 3rd parties as well.

To conclude,

It appears we're at an impasse. You've conceded all the points I started with, And all the points I've made in this debate now except for some vague suggestion that 'any state could be a swing state you never know. ' These states were recognized as possible swing states and both candidates spent time there. This wasn't unforeseen, And it was clearly never impossible. The states that had no chance of swinging were paid no heed.

I'm uncertain of what you think wins this debate for you. I'd take your reformed EC over what we have now because it's a massive step in the direction of popular vote where the mass majority of victories would go to the candidate with the popular vote. I'm not even certain if, In your reformed system, It is mathematically possible for someone to win the presidency without the popular vote victory. If my napkin math is right on this, It would be nearly if not completely impossible. In this case, It would be effectively no different from a pure popular vote system. It would just mean that votes were still slightly unequal between states, But much less so than now.

If you were going to change the EC that much you may have wanted to debate a different topic, And made your desired changes clear in R1. Something along the lines of "The EC should be reformed. " With you as pro, And someone who wanted the EC to stay in place as Con.

To state it clearly one more time, I don't know what wins this debate for you. We barely disagree on anything, You just want to reform the system to where there would be a tiny chance senator EC votes would swing it if candidates won enough states but not the popular vote, But in reality I'm uncertain if that would actually be possible in that system.

My position is that the EC should be eliminated, But I can't help but like your system too because it's nearly identical. You can't simply say "no its not" and back that statement up with no logical statements or evidence.

There is really only one more step for you to take between having an EC at all and not, And that's just a slight power spike from senator EC votes. With an expanded and expanding HoR (if you agree with the unfreezing, Which it seems you do, Otherwise you're agreeing with a system that goes counter to our founders) that would be more and more insignificant. Otherwise, There is unequal representation in Congress in the HoR which is supposed to give states power by population.

So from what I see there's not much left to say. You are all but agreeing with me. I'm all but agreeing with you. The topic of this debate suggested you were Pro EC and that it should be preserved 'at most with minor reforms. '

I leave it up to the audience to decide whether or not your suggested reforms are minor. I see no world in which they are.

The only real argument you may have left is that abolishing the EC is likely to favor democrats somewhat. There is a slight statistical majority in favor of democrats, And this is increasing as older generations die off. (2) If current trends hold, Which can be doubted somewhat, Then the US Republican party will probably die within 30-50 years.

May your thoughts be clear,

-Thoht

(Additional sources in comments. Some data pulled from previous sources)
Debate Round No. 3
boatfullogoats

Pro

boatfullogoats forfeited this round.
Thoht

Con

And now it is up to you.

May your thoughts be clear,

-Thoht
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Thoht 3 years ago
Thoht
R3 Sources

1. Https://usconstitution. Net/consttop_elec. Html
2. Pew Research on strong demographics for each party. Article from 2015.
Posted by Thoht 3 years ago
Thoht
R1 Sources

2. Pew research US population growing but house of representatives is same size as taft era
3. National popular vote com campaign events 2016
4. Npr org how to win the presidency with 27 percent of the popular vote
Posted by Thoht 3 years ago
Thoht
R1 Sources

1. Https://upload. Wikimedia. Org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/State_population_per_electoral_vote. Png
Posted by Thoht 3 years ago
Thoht
Happy to debate you on this, But it will be probably 2 days before I start. Thanksgiving will be busy.
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