Why the electoral college sucks.

Well, another reason at least…

The system is unfair and superfluous.  Ditch this bullshit, America.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Kevin Schelley

    I think the electoral college should be changed to be a series of courses that all people running for office are required to take and pass. They’d be on subjects like science, medicine, and other subjects on how the world actually functions. If they can’t pass those courses they aren’t allowed to run for office.

  • iknklast

    Because of the electoral college, it really doesn’t matter who I vote for. My vote will go to Mitt Romney. (I live in a very red state). Of course, that does give me the freedom (which I often use) to vote for a third party without worrying that it will mess up the election. My vote was cast as soon as the Republicans chose their candidate; now, I can vote for what I really believe in, and hope (not pray, because that would be a waste of time) that Obama manages to survive in those states that DO matter.

  • Jaime Wise

    I’m not crazy about the electoral college, but I don’t think there should be educational requiremnts for running, just because of our checkerd history with that sort of thing.

    • Smiles

      I’m conflicted on the same point… On one hand, America’s leaders should be the best and brightest; they are making decisions for billions of people who deserve nothing less. On the other, this could prevent those less privileged from even being eligible. Perhaps, having better education free to all citizens (and visitors) would be a solution? Anything to put an end to young-earthers being on the science/education panels…

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com Matt E


  • Rob

    I think the electoral college still serves a good purpose, but allocation of the votes needs to be tweaked on a national level. Instead of state by state, keep with district by district (e.g. like Maine).

    • iknklast

      The problem with the electoral college is that it gives a premium to voters in lesser populated states (like the Midwest) while minimizing the votes of populated states. In other words, we have an election where the vote isn’t even across the country. If you look at the electoral vote weighted by population, it becomes obvious that the places where most of the people live have a lot less power than the places where fewer people live. Oh, of course, California has more electoral votes than Alaska, by far. But when you start looking at how many people each electoral vote represents, it becomes obvious that Alaska has more power per vote than California.

      If we’re going to elect our presidents, we should just elect them. Everyone should have the same vote, no matter where they live. It was done this way deliberately, to give more power to the agricultural states (can anyone say Kansas?) And look what they’ve done with it…why shouldn’t everyone be considered equally?

      I’m told the electoral college will bring candidates to the lesser populated states. I’ve never seen a presidential candidate come to my state; I did happen to be in Iowa during the primary season in 2007, so got to see Joe Biden in a tiny little town; but in the big, metropolitan city where I grew up, there was never a presidential candidate, because it is a solid red state, it is never in play, and there aren’t many electoral votes. They will all go Republican. Perhaps if we were voting straight, then the 5% that might be swayed by a visit from a candidate would matter, but in a state that goes 60% for one party reliably, picking off a couple more percentage points doesn’t matter. So the safe states never get to have any say at all, and those of us who are living in a state that goes the opposite of who we are, our vote is non-existent.

    • toto

      Dividing more states’ electoral votes by congressional district winners would magnify the worst features of the Electoral College system.

      If the district approach were used nationally, it would be less fair and less accurately reflect the will of the people than the current system. In 2004, Bush won 50.7% of the popular vote, but 59% of the districts. Although Bush lost the national popular vote in 2000, he won 55% of the country’s congressional districts.

      The district approach would not provide incentive for presidential candidates to campaign in a particular state or focus the candidates’ attention to issues of concern to the state. With the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all laws (whether applied to either districts or states), candidates have no reason to campaign in districts or states where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind. In North Carolina, for example, there are only 2 districts (the 13th with a 5% spread and the 2nd with an 8% spread) where the presidential race is competitive. In California, the presidential race has been competitive in only 3 of the state’s 53 districts. Nationwide, there have been only 55 “battleground” districts that were competitive in presidential elections. With the present deplorable 48 state-level winner-take-all system, 80% of the states (including California and Texas) are ignored in presidential elections; however, 88% of the nation’s congressional districts would be ignored if a district-level winner-take-all system were used nationally.

      Awarding electoral votes by congressional district could result in third party candidates winning electoral votes that would deny either major party candidate the necessary majority vote of electors and throw the process into Congress to decide.

      Because there are generally more close votes on district levels than states as whole, district elections increase the opportunity for error. The larger the voting base, the less opportunity there is for an especially close vote.

      Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.

      A national popular vote is the way to make every person’s vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states and DC becomes President.

  • toto

    Presidential elections don’t have to be this way.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  • John-Henry Beck

    It does seem like people forget that the election for president was never intended to be by popular vote. It’s actually closer now than it used to be since electoral college votes are now determined by the popular vote. There were reasons, at least when the country was founded, for having representation work more by state than by individual.
    Not that I don’t think the current system is a mess. I certainly do. I’m just not sure that a straight popular vote nation-wide is necessarily that much of an improvement. It’s more doable now, at least, now that we primarily consider ourselves Americans rather than, say, Missourians who are also part of the American nation.
    But unless we can actually get nearer that ideal of voters who are well informed and able to use critical thinking skills to have a real debate on policy and get real choices to vote for, I don’t see it making much difference. I see a far larger problem in being locked in to a two-party system where we just vote for the least objectionable of two lousy choices than I see in the electoral college system.

    • toto

      The National Popular Vote bill would end the disproportionate attention and influence of the “mob” in the current handful of closely divided battleground states, such as Florida, while the “mobs” of the vast majority of states are ignored. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided “battleground” states. 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive are ignored, in presidential elections. 9 of the original 13 states are considered “fly-over” now. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 “battleground” states. At most, 9 states will determine the 2012 election.

      The current system does not provide some kind of check on the “mobs.” There have been 22,453 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome. Since 1796, the Electoral College has had the form, but not the substance, of the deliberative body envisioned by the Founders. The electors now are dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

  • Silent Service

    Unfortunatly I doubt that the Electoral College will go away any time soon. There are too many low polpulation states with too much at stake for the states to want to go to a true popular vote. The best reason to get rid of the Electoral College is exactly the reason that many states will fight to keep it.

    • toto

      Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states. 80% of states and voters are ignored.

      Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections. Voters in states that are reliably red or blue don’t matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

      Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic grou
      p. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK -70%, DC -76%, DE –75%, ID -77%, ME – 77%, MT- 72%, NE – 74%, NH–69%, NE – 72%, NM – 76%, RI – 74%, SD- 71%, UT- 70%, VT – 75%, WV- 81%, and WY- 69%.

      In the lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in nine state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 3 jurisdictions.

      Of the 25 smallest states (with a total of 155 electoral votes) 18 received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions. Of the seven smallest states with any post-convention visits, Only 4 of the smallest states – NH (12 events), NM (8), NV (12), and IA (7) – got the outsized attention of 39 of the 43 total events in the 25 smallest states. In contrast, Ohio (with only 20 electoral votes) was lavishly wooed with 62 of the total 300 post-convention campaign events in the whole country.

      In the 25 smallest states in 2008, the Democratic and Republican popular vote was almost tied (9.9 million versus 9.8 million), as was the electoral vote (57 versus 58).

      With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with a mere 26% of the nation’s votes!

      The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.