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Should the Electoral College be abolished? Show more Show less

The Electoral College is a body of electors established by the United States Constitution every four years to elect the President and Vice-President of the United States. It has increasingly become a source of controversy; in both the 2000 and 2016 presidential election the winner of the popular vote did not win the Electoral College. Why do we have the Electoral College? What are the pros and cons of the Electoral College? And should it be abolished?

No, we should keep the Electoral College Show more Show less

The Electoral College increases equality by ensuring all political attention is not focused on a few densely populated areas.
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The Electoral College ensures that all states are valued

The Electoral College gives attention to areas that might be ignored completely if elections were based on popular vote alone. It prevents the election from being about catering only to big cities and ensures that all states are valued.
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Context

The Argument

The Electoral College ensures that all states are valued by making sure that candidates have to campaign across the country and that the vote of people in each state matters. Under a system where presidential elections are decided by a plurality of voters, candidates are likely to campaign in areas of high population density. This means that candidates would campaign only in big cities and voters from rural areas would be ignored. The Electoral College instead ensures that the candidates go to all parts of the country to campaign because they need electoral votes from multiple regions. This means that the candidates are exposed to a variety of opinions. They have to consider issues that are important to farmers and manufacturing workers as well as those important to people in the big cities. The President will make sure to serve the needs of the entire nation. This prevents a tyranny of the majority, where the largest and most populated states would decide all elections. For example, Obama had 3.3 million more popular votes than Romney in 2012, “but won 3.6 million more votes than Romney in just four cities — Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles.”[1] This means that if we only considered the popular vote, then these cities could be who decides the elections. Politicians would cater to big-city issues and the rest of the country would be neglected. The electoral college prevents this from happening. It ensures that voters from sparsely populated parts of the country that continue to have important industries also have a significant voice. Voters in every part of the country matter.

Counter arguments

The Electoral College offers sparsely populated states a disproportionate amount of influence over the electoral process. This influence is magnified particularly in swing states. In the 2016 general election, about two-thirds of campaign stops were to the 4 biggest swing states: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.[2] This means that candidates are not campaigning across the nation. Additionally, this makes some voters in states that are considered 'safe' or electoral strongholds for a particular party under the Electoral College feel that they are dis-incentivized to vote, as their votes do not have equal weighting compared to swing states. Finally, if we had a popular vote election, candidates would still not be able to focus solely on the large states because there aren’t enough votes there. In 2016, the 4 largest states (population-wise): New York, California, Texas, and Florida only had about a quarter of the total votes. This means that even if a candidate got every single vote in those states (which wouldn’t happen) the candidate would still have to be campaigning elsewhere.[3]

Framing

Premises

[P1] The Electoral College ensures the opinions of all Americans are considered by making candidates campaign in states they otherwise might not visit. [P2] The Electoral College prevents a tyranny of the majority, where the largest and most populated states would decide all elections. [P3] The Electoral College ensures that all states are valued.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Candidates don’t campaign everywhere. They spend most of their time campaigning in swing states. [Rejecting P2] The largest states don’t have enough votes to win the election alone and everyone in one state or city doesn’t vote the same. Each person’s vote would matter equally. [Rejecting P3] The Electoral College ensures that swing states are valued.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/keep-electoral-college-for-fair-presidential-votes-084651
  2. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/system-calls-popular-vote-determine-winner
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/21/opinion/electoral-college-warren-trump.html

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This page was last edited on Sunday, 21 Jun 2020 at 22:20 UTC