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The Electoral College

ShamMol

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I wrote this paper for a class, but I wanted to post it here as well. It desribes the need not to get rid of the electoral college, but also the need to reform it to make it a more democratic institution. Please comment if you want.


Reforming the Electoral College

Although it does not adequately address modern-day political realities such as national media campaigns, sharp regional divisions, and a strong two party system, the electoral college should not be abolished and replaced by popular voting. Rather, its basic structure should be maintained to preserve the political voice it affords small population states, and modified to ensure that it does not unnecessarily dilute the will of the majority.

The framers conceived the electoral college as a compromise between congressional selection and popular election of the president (Abbott 11). Each state was to choose electors equal to the number of senators and representatives it was allotted in the congress; the electors, in turn, were to select the president and vice president. If no candidate received a majority of the votes, the House of Representatives was to select from among the five top candidates (U.S. Constitution, Art. II, sec. 1). The framers did not seek the "best" system, but rather one that "command(ed) a majority of the convention," and got the issue "done with" (Abbott 11). They deemed the compromise on which they settled "if . . . not perfect, . . . at least excellent" because it allowed the general populace to have a say in election of the president, but entrusted the ultimate decision to men who possessed the information necessary to make an informed choice (Federalist 68).

Almost immediately, problems emerged. The framers did not contemplate that political parties would play a role in deciding elections (Kimberling 4), and the electoral college was not effective in addressing the competition between parties that developed (Abbott 12). Because each elector cast two votes for president, with the runner-up becoming vice president, the initial electoral college vote for president in 1800 resulted in a tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr of the Democratic-Republican Party. This led to passage of the 12th Amendment, which required that each elector cast one vote for president and a separate vote for vice president (Kimberling 4).

Tension between indirect and direct popular election remained. In each of the elections of 1824, 1876 and 1888, the winner of the popular vote lost in the electoral college (Garand/Parent 1). In this century, a series of close elections – in 1960 (Kennedy/Nixon), 1968 (Nixon/Humphrey), 1976 (Carter/Ford), 2000 (Bush/Gore) and 2004 (Bush/Kerry) – led to increased calls for electoral college reform (Hively). In 2000, the winner of the popular vote once again lost in the electoral college, fueling calls for its elimination (Turner). Shortly after the 2000 election, several senators and representatives sponsored a constitutional amendment to replace the electoral college with direct popular voting (Rakove 202). Although abolishing the electoral college and electing the president directly has frequently been proposed (Abbott 135), such an approach would deprive the country of the benefits of the electoral college system. The better approach is to retain the electoral college, but modify the method by which votes are allocated to candidates.

If the electoral college were abolished and the president directly elected, smaller states would lose virtually all voice in the election. While critics of the electoral college assert that it is a classic example of “malapportionment,” they fail to realize that historically only eight states have received a share of the electoral vote equivalent to their population (Abbott 78). The imbalance between the representation of small and large states, therefore, is far less than commonly thought. While small states are, to some extent, overrepresented (Abramson 63), the framers believed that this was the only way to insure that the president was the “leader of the whole nation, and not just a particularly densely populated region” (Cooper). What the founders did not anticipate was the emergence of a two-party system, in which candidates and campaigns expend resources in states where they have a good chance of winning, and ignore states where they do not (Turner 122). With a winner-take-all electoral college, political parties and campaigns have no incentive to campaign for votes in states where their candidate is marginal, because all of the electoral votes will be allocated to the prevailing candidate (Rakove 96). Similarly, candidates in a direct election system would campaign only in the most populous states (Abbott 136). Were the electoral college retained, however, but its procedures modified to provide for proportional voting in each state, campaigns would allocate resources differently and contest the election in a greater number of states (Turner 120). The result would be the election of a president with broader and more geographically diverse support – precisely the result the framers sought.

The current winner-take-all system and direct election of the president share an additional disadvantage: they suppress voter turnout. In a winner-take-all system, voters in non-competitive states are less likely to go to the polls because they know that their state's electoral votes will be allocated to the candidate who garners a majority, and their vote will not "count" (Abramson 90). One commentator has described this phenomenon as follows: “Depending on where a person lives, (his) vote might have enormous importance . . . or it might have no impact at all” (Abbott 95). Three-fourths of small states are not competitive; only a fourth are moderately competitive or “decided by narrow vote margins” (Abbott 81). Thus, a winner-takes-all system clearly suppresses voter turnout. Similarly, were the president to be elected directly, individual voters would appreciate that their votes counted less because they were part of one large, national electorate than if their votes were counted on a statewide basis (Hively).

Currently, campaigns categorize states as "base," "marginal," or "battleground," consider the number of electoral votes they represent, and allocate advertising and candidate resources accordingly (Turner 122). Were electoral college votes to be allocated proportionally within a state according to the popular vote a candidate received, campaigns would have to reassess their resource allocation formula, visit more states, and expend advertising dollars in a larger number of states (Turner 122). Broader, more geographically dispersed campaigns would, in turn, generate higher levels of voter participation (Abramson 56, Dover 35). The 2000 election is instructive in this regard. Forty million votes in 2000 did not count because of they were cast in non-contested states. Had electoral college votes had been apportioned proportionally, however, these votes would have had a significant effect on the outcome of the election (McGarth).

As can be seen, the disadvantages inherent in the electoral college system can be addressed through modification of the manner in which electoral votes are apportioned within the states. Modification is preferable to abolition, since eliminating the college would deprive the country of important benefits the structure provides. One of the most critical of these is the aura of legitimacy that the electoral college vote affords a winning candidate. In this era of sharply divided electorates, the electoral college reinforces the concept of majoritarian rule, transforming small popular vote margins into "exaggerated electoral majorities," and creating a mandate for the popular vote winner (Garand/Parent 20; Dover 33; Turner; Best 14). In this way, the electoral college "serve as a catalyst for rapid policy change under certain circumstances" and "counteract some of the more incremental tendencies built into the U.S. political process" (Garand/Parent 20).

As an example, although President Clinton garnered only a plurality of the vote (49.2%) in 1996, he received a solid majority of the electoral vote (70.0%). Based on the electoral college vote, the American people concluded that his popular backing was more substantial than it actually was (Wikipedia-US Pres. Election 1996). Similarly, in 1960, although President Kennedy barely won the popular vote, his margin in the electoral college was significant (Wikipedia-US Pres. Election 1960). This phenomenon not only lends an air of legitimacy to the successful candidate, no matter how slim his margin of victory, but also avoids the specter of a national recount in close elections that would inevitably follow adoption of a direct election system (Abramson 53). Finally, the electoral college tends to prevent deadlock by ensuring that one candidate receives a majority; as a result, elections are infrequently, if ever, thrown to the House of Representatives for decision (Best 13).
 

ShamMol

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For all of these reasons, the electoral college should be retained, but modified to eliminate the winner-take-all system, and implement proportional voting by states' electors. The electoral college serves several important functions – ensuring that presidents take office with the legitimacy that a solid electoral college majority affords them, and providing representation to voters in both small and populous states. Retaining the electoral college with modifications will continue these benefits. Moving to a proportional voting system will increase voter turnout in non-competitive states, and encourages campaigns to allocate resources more broadly than to a small number of "battleground" states. This, in turn, will lead to greater public confidence in election outcomes. Ultimately, an electoral college in which electors cast a state's votes proportionally will maximize individual citizens' voting power, and ensure that smaller states have an adequate but not exaggerated voice in election outcomes. If these changes are made, the electoral college will endure and become a more democratic institution. Without them, the college will continue to be assailed and eventually be and replaced by direct election of the president, with the associated disadvantages such a system presents.
 

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I skimmed over your paper so I may have missed it but do the electoral people have to vote the way that the majority of their states votes go? I'm not sure that the above sentence made sense but I am not sure how to put it. I guess what I'm getting at is can the electoral college simply disregard the states votes and vote whichever way they want? If so then voting has absolutly no point what-so-ever because the electoral college will simply over-rule me and i hate being a :monkey
 

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Suffice it to say that, last election, had 51,000 Ohioans voted the other way there would be absolute silence on this issue.
 

goligoth

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I asked that question before last election...I hate the electoral college and I always have...
 

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Bustabush said:
Hello goligoth,

me said:
I asked that question before last election...I hate the electoral college and I always have...

Care to state why?

yep.

I have never gotten an exact definition of the electoral college however it has been presented to me that it is a system where a select few people are allowed to actually cast a vote for their state. Each state either goes completely to one side or the other. This is wrong. Even if all 99% of a state votes one way the 1% who doesn't gets completely ignored! Though the electoral college simplifies thigs down into hundreds of votes instead of millions it isn't right to disregard those who voted the opposite of their state. I have always believed that the electoral college is 100% unconstitutional and... well I can't imagine that this view will ever change but anyone is open to try!

Many people on this website complain about bush.... Would he have been elected if the election was decided by majority of the actual votes instead of the electoral college?
 
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I think cnred may have raised this before. But apparently the states vote for the president and the people vote for congress. Correct me if I am wrong.

Funny thing is, how can a US president ever say that he was democratically elected, when he is elected by the states.

What the current setup is basically saying, is that the vote of a Utah person, is actually 50 or 62 times greater than that of California person, in terms of state weighting.

People go, well about protecting small population states from the powers of more populous states? Well I would reply that the U.S bill of rights protects American individuals regardless of their state? Am I wrong in this assumption?

Lastly, if you get rid of the electoral collage, and stop this mental gymnastics of states voting for the president, not the people, even though states are not people. Then the popular vote is the way to go. Because that is about majority rule.

Now smaller states in America shouldn't worry about the urban states, that might be Democratic, domaninating their views. If.... Politicians in America start to actually follow the U.S constitution instead of creating laws that violate State laws and rights.

I'm sure that this issue is complex. But if people want change then they need to start rallying. This ideolising of the U.S founder fathers, actually stiffles change, because anyone that tries to change the U.S constitution is seen as a progress, liberal, or whatever. Even though that constitutions are infact designed to change to meet the needs of the people as peoples needs change over time.
 

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This system of counting votes in the same repetitive and identifiable manner is one of the many problems found in this method we use today, thus creating a pattern that is not only predictable but as such can possibly be swayed is the largest problem it seems to create. Each state is now counted in a certain order no matter the number of electorial votes it holds.

Leaving 1/3 of the United States voiceless to our Government reguarding who should set the public policy affecting our lives over the next four years.

California has never yet, and if this system is left intact, never will decide a president, unless its votes are somehow able to be registered before those in the east. As a Californian I would take a 1 out of 50 chance of my voice being heard rather than the 0 to 50 opportunity I now have.


Let there be a random drawing of the states counting their electorial votes the day after polling and once all the nations votes are counted. No longer placing the importance of this decision on the furthest state East and then working across the land, every State would be granted an equal opportunity to decide this important election.


One's voice in a Democracy should not be based on where they live or the time of day that they vote. All voices should be equal and at least have the chance to be heard; this would be accomplished by this "Lotto" style approach to presidential elections.

KMS
 
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goligoth

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Any system where it is possible for a president to have the majority of the people's votes and still lose is not a good system!
 

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goligoth said:
Any system where it is possible for a president to have the majority of the people's votes and still lose is not a good system!

Ya like Gore. He woulda won and 2000 marines wouldn't be dead now
 

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Che said:
Ya like Gore. He woulda won and 2000 marines wouldn't be dead now

That's not what I meant but....when the shoe fits......

Gore would have gone to war too in afgahnistan but I seriously doubt he would have pushed the iraq war like bush did.
 

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goligoth said:
That's not what I meant but....when the shoe fits......

Gore would have gone to war too in afgahnistan but I seriously doubt he would have pushed the iraq war like bush did.

Ya but there were few casulties in Afghanistan compared to Iraq, and besides there are only 22,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. That's the amount of police officers in New York City.
 

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Che said:
Ya but there were few casulties in Afghanistan compared to Iraq, and besides there are only 22,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. That's the amount of police officers in New York City.

The only reason there are more casualties in iraq than in afgahnistan is because after we totaly destroyed the terrorists in afgahnistan the other terrorists wet themselves and decided that we were a threat....they now use better tactics....

anyway:

Do you like the electoral college? or, more to the point, does anyone like the electoral college?

If so then why do you like it?

If everyone says no then why is it still in place?
 

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Che said:
Ya like Gore.

Gore may have gotten a plurality, but he failed to get a majority of the votes. No matter how you count the ballots, his vote total only reaches 49%.

Of course, if we had a majority voting system, the campaigns would have been run very differently, and there's reason to believe that Bush may still have won.

Suppose we had a system where elections are counted nationally and everyone gets a single vote. I'm not so sure the formula giving throwing the election to the plurality winner is the right way to go. Suppose candidates A and B are very similar, and C is different. C might win a 40% plurality, with A and B splitting the vote (30% each), while 60% like the AB policies. Of course, this is a problem as it is now.
 

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Connecticutter said:
Gore may have gotten a plurality, but he failed to get a majority of the votes. No matter how you count the ballots, his vote total only reaches 49%.

Of course, if we had a majority voting system, the campaigns would have been run very differently, and there's reason to believe that Bush may still have won.

Suppose we had a system where elections are counted nationally and everyone gets a single vote. I'm not so sure the formula giving throwing the election to the plurality winner is the right way to go. Suppose candidates A and B are very similar, and C is different. C might win a 40% plurality, with A and B splitting the vote (30% each), while 60% like the AB policies. Of course, this is a problem as it is now.


Not so sure about that. Gore won by some 500,000 votes. Studies also show that Gore won because of African American votes that weren't counted.
Also voting machines made by Blackbox had nothing written to prove that someone had voted for a candidate.

www.nov2truth.org

your ABC scenario doesn't work because the only elections in history that ever had three competitive candidates in it would be those of 1914 and 1992
 

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Che said:
Not so sure about that. Gore won by some 500,000 votes. Studies also show that Gore won because of African American votes that weren't counted.
Also voting machines made by Blackbox had nothing written to prove that someone had voted for a candidate.

www.nov2truth.org


My point is that if the 2000 election were majority-vote, campaign cash would be poured out of the swing states and into the population centers. The battle would not have been in Florida and Ohio but in California, Texas, and New York. This completely changes the landscape - who know what would have happened. We may have even gotten different winners in the primaries.

Che said:
your ABC scenario doesn't work because the only elections in history that ever had three competitive candidates in it would be those of 1914 and 1992

That precisely because of the electoral college system. It makes it very difficult for a third party to win. Plurality voting makes it easier, but not by much, as we can see from the occasional independant governor or senator.

It is possible that in 1992 a majority of Americans preferred Bush to Clinton. I'm saying that I'm sure about that - I'm only saying that given the election results its possible.

I guess this doesn't have much to do with abolishing the EC, because the problems that I bring up with exist under the EC and under Plurality.
 

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Connecticutter said:
Gore may have gotten a plurality, but he failed to get a majority of the votes. No matter how you count the ballots, his vote total only reaches 49%.

Of course, if we had a majority voting system, the campaigns would have been run very differently, and there's reason to believe that Bush may still have won.

Suppose we had a system where elections are counted nationally and everyone gets a single vote. I'm not so sure the formula giving throwing the election to the plurality winner is the right way to go. Suppose candidates A and B are very similar, and C is different. C might win a 40% plurality, with A and B splitting the vote (30% each), while 60% like the AB policies. Of course, this is a problem as it is now.

Sorry but what is plurality? And Gore's total votes only come up to 49% because all of a state's votes either go to him or to bush....what would happen if california's votes were divided 89% to 11%? the candidate who would have lost the state still gets a few votes...

Yes bush may have won in a new system but I belive that it would have been a little bit more precise than what it had been....if the electoral college wan't around florida probably would have been divided 50-50 rather than all for......whoever ended up winning the state...


I don't understand your whole percentage bit in the third paragraph....if you could explain it for me it would be appreciated.
Becsuse it seems to me that in your scenario candidate C wins? But you are talking about combining candidates A and B's votes to win? I am confused....
 

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goligoth said:
Sorry but what is plurality? And Gore's total votes only come up to 49% because all of a state's votes either go to him or to bush....what would happen if california's votes were divided 89% to 11%? the candidate who would have lost the state still gets a few votes...

Winning the plurality means that you got the most votes. Winning the majority means that you won more than 50% of the votes. Al Gore without question won the plurality vote for the country. However, he only got 49% of the nationwide vote. This is through a straight counting everyone's vote, not with the Electoral College.

I'm not sure what Bush got. I think it may have been 48%, or close to 49%. The additional votes went to third party candidates.

goligoth said:
Yes bush may have won in a new system but I belive that it would have been a little bit more precise than what it had been....if the electoral college wan't around florida probably would have been divided 50-50 rather than all for......whoever ended up winning the state...

You're right - if we got rid of the electoral college and made the state you are voting in be irrelevant, then a few hundred votes in Florida would have been meaningless.

I'm not against replacing the Electoral College, I just think there's something wrong with going back and saying "Gore was the true winner." If we're going to replace it, we need to first consider what we're replacing it with. What type of elections will it lead to?

The EC was originally a compromise that allowed the 13 states to form a union. Without it, the founders could not have convinced all 13 states to ratify.


goligoth said:
I don't understand your whole percentage bit in the third paragraph....if you could explain it for me it would be appreciated.
Becsuse it seems to me that in your scenario candidate C wins? But you are talking about combining candidates A and B's votes to win? I am confused....

Suppose that after the election in 1992, everyone who voted for Perot was told that their candidates votes were counted, the statement was made, and he came in last, so now all of you get to vote in a runoff between Clinton and Bush. It's not hard to imagine Bush winning such a runoff 52% to 48%, thus meaning that a majority of Americans prefered to keep Bush in the white House to Clinton. Yet, Clinton still won.

You can say the same thing about Nader and Gore in 2000.

So we should think about this question: "Is it okay to elect a candidate when a majority of Americans would prefer another?"

Of course, no system is perfect, and we have to go with something.
 

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Connecticutter said:
Winning the plurality means that you got the most votes. Winning the majority means that you won more than 50% of the votes. Al Gore without question won the plurality vote for the country. However, he only got 49% of the nationwide vote. This is through a straight counting everyone's vote, not with the Electoral College.

I'm not sure what Bush got. I think it may have been 48%, or close to 49%. The additional votes went to third party candidates.

O.k. thank you for defining it for me.

Connecticutter said:
You're right - if we got rid of the electoral college and made the state you are voting in be irrelevant, then a few hundred votes in Florida would have been meaningless.

I'm not against replacing the Electoral College, I just think there's something wrong with going back and saying "Gore was the true winner." If we're going to replace it, we need to first consider what we're replacing it with. What type of elections will it lead to?

The EC was originally a compromise that allowed the 13 states to form a union. Without it, the founders could not have convinced all 13 states to ratify.

In the first clump of words:
No the few hundered votes that normally wouldn't have been counted would now actually be counted so they aren't meaningless even if the candidate they would now go to still loses...

In the second set:
I never said that Gore was the true winner and when we replace it we should replace it with the only thing that would work.....counting every single vote, and majority wins....
'what type of elections?'...well maybe the candidates would start appealing to the people:confused: ....I am missing your meaning there....

In the third set:
Great....I'm glad that they came up with it then and that it helped unite our country....but it sucks now....

Connecticutter said:
Suppose that after the election in 1992, everyone who voted for Perot was told that their candidates votes were counted, the statement was made, and he came in last, so now all of you get to vote in a runoff between Clinton and Bush. It's not hard to imagine Bush winning such a runoff 52% to 48%, thus meaning that a majority of Americans prefered to keep Bush in the white House to Clinton. Yet, Clinton still won.

You can say the same thing about Nader and Gore in 2000.

So we should think about this question: "Is it okay to elect a candidate when a majority of Americans would prefer another?"

Of course, no system is perfect, and we have to go with something.

Ok I really didn't understand this one....Perot's votes go to Perot right? And Bushes votes go to Bush and Gore's votes go to gore But somehow 52% loses to 48%??? I am really missing this one because the last time I checked 52 beats 48....
 

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goligoth said:
No the few hundered votes that normally wouldn't have been counted would now actually be counted so they aren't meaningless even if the candidate they would now go to still loses...

If one candidate beats the other by a hundred thousand votes, we wouldn't have court hearings, challenges, and millions of dollars spent to take another look at a few hundred votes in Florida. What do you mean when you say that they wouldn't be counted normally?

goligoth said:
I never said that Gore was the true winner and when we replace it we should replace it with the only thing that would work.....counting every single vote, and majority wins....

What happens when no candidate wins a majority? This happened in 1992, 1996, and 2000, as well as many other times in our history.

goligoth said:
'what type of elections?'...well maybe the candidates would start appealing to the people:confused: ....I am missing your meaning there....

Well, yeah - appealing to the people. Of course depending upon how cynical you are, this could be a race about campaign contributions and media campaigns. I don't think that changing the system will affect that aspect of the election.

What it will change is which voters the campaign ads will be targeted at. It will also affect the number of choices that voters can be faced with. Right now, there are usually only 2 viable choices - maybe we can change that.

goligoth said:
Ok I really didn't understand this one....Perot's votes go to Perot right? And Bushes votes go to Bush and Gore's votes go to gore But somehow 52% loses to 48%??? I am really missing this one because the last time I checked 52 beats 48....

According to the CNN website, both Al Gore and George W. Bush won 48% of the vote, with Gore slightly in the lead. That leaves 4% of voters choosing third party candidates.

Suppose this leads to a runoff between Al and W, and we find that W got 52% because the extra 4% preferred him*. Now it seems clear that W is the will of the people, even though Al got more votes the first time around.

In choice theory, one of Arrow's condidtions for a social choice is that the choice should not be affected by irrelevant alternatives.

*I know this would not be the case.
 

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M14 Shooter said:
Suffice it to say that, last election, had 51,000 Ohioans voted the other way there would be absolute silence on this issue.
Are you joking? Had 51,000 Ohioans voted the other way, and Bush had won the popular vote yet lost the election, are you dead seriously claiming conservatives would've just let it slide?
Not a chance in hell brother!
 

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Connecticutter said:
If one candidate beats the other by a hundred thousand votes, we wouldn't have court hearings, challenges, and millions of dollars spent to take another look at a few hundred votes in Florida. What do you mean when you say that they wouldn't be counted normally?

In the electoral college if the peoples votes in a state go 70%=A and 30%=B then all of the states electoral votes go 100% to candidate A and he won the state.....the 30% that voted B are not counted nationally and therefore they don't matter....that is what I mean that they aren't counted....

Connecticutter said:
What happens when no candidate wins a majority? This happened in 1992, 1996, and 2000, as well as many other times in our history.

O.k. that was my fault....my definition of majority is different than yours....majority(in my definition) being whoever got the most votes of the people nationally.....if A=49.0002% of the votes and B=49.0001% of the votes then A wins.....

connecticutter said:
Well, yeah - appealing to the people. Of course depending upon how cynical you are, this could be a race about campaign contributions and media campaigns. I don't think that changing the system will affect that aspect of the election.

What it will change is which voters the campaign ads will be targeted at. It will also affect the number of choices that voters can be faced with. Right now, there are usually only 2 viable choices - maybe we can change that.

How will the targeting change? They still want all of the people's votes it is just that now the peoples votes are a little bit more important...you have to appeal even to a state that normally you would lose to your opponent(in the EC system) because now even the few thousand votes you would get would now count(not in the EC system)....and yes I would hope that there would be more than 2 viable choices...

conneticutter said:
According to the CNN website, both Al Gore and George W. Bush won 48% of the vote, with Gore slightly in the lead. That leaves 4% of voters choosing third party candidates.

Suppose this leads to a runoff between Al and W, and we find that W got 52% because the extra 4% preferred him*. Now it seems clear that W is the will of the people, even though Al got more votes the first time around.

In choice theory, one of Arrow's condidtions for a social choice is that the choice should not be affected by irrelevant alternatives.

How in the world do the third party voters get two votes????? Their candidate lost so they shouldn't get to vote again.....in the new (everbody counts) system Gore gets 48% of the votes Bush gets 48% of the votes and third party gets 4% of the votes...... very simple.....and we don't have to speculate...or whatever we are doing...about what the third party voters preferred....
 

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goligoth said:
In the electoral college if the peoples votes in a state go 70%=A and 30%=B then all of the states electoral votes go 100% to candidate A and he won the state.....the 30% that voted B are not counted nationally and therefore they don't matter....that is what I mean that they aren't counted....

Those votes are still counted towards coming up with the state electors, but I see your point.

goligoth said:
How will the targeting change? They still want all of the people's votes it is just that now the peoples votes are a little bit more important...you have to appeal even to a state that normally you would lose to your opponent(in the EC system) because now even the few thousand votes you would get would now count(not in the EC system)....and yes I would hope that there would be more than 2 viable choices...

I don't know exactly how the targeting will change, but my guess is that you'd see less money going in to campaign ads for Ohio and Florida, and more money going into campaign ads in New York, California, and Texas. Not that that's a bad thing.

goligoth said:
How in the world do the third party voters get two votes????? Their candidate lost so they shouldn't get to vote again.....

They do this in many countries - France for example (not that we should emulate them ;) ). It actually makes sense if you are looking for the candidate which would beat every other candidate in a two-way race.
 
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