Five myths about the Electoral College

  • Article by: George C. Edwards III , Special to the Washington Post
  • Updated: November 3, 2012 - 10:16 AM

Let's take a look at the main justifications for maintaining the electoral college.

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chop1234Nov. 3, 1211:07 AM

Good piece, but in reality difficult to nearly impossible to get rid of the electoral college. How about something simpler. A voting holiday. If voting is the corner stone of our system that many have died for, you think we could take a day away from work to excercise it.

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jjsbrwNov. 3, 1211:21 AM

One thing the electoral does very effectively is quarantine recounts to a manageable area. Imagine the chaos of a national recount.

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my4centsNov. 3, 1211:38 AM

"A clear majority of citizens" support many things that, and yet we are denied. If you want to push majority rule for getting rid of the electoral college system, then let's support the same for Obamacare and the two proposed MN amendments. Obamacare has never been supported by the majority, and those opposed to the amendments want the courts to overrule the majority if they are approved. Either live with majority rule or not - don't pick and choose where you want it applied.

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jastkeNov. 3, 1212:34 PM

While the electoral college is not perfect it is better than a direct election. This is mathematically confirmed in this article: http://discovermagazine.com/2004/sep/math-against-tyranny

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lafoolNov. 3, 12 1:17 PM

I love calls to abandon the electoral college; the fix is easier than a amendment or the scheme going around for each state to pledge it's electors to the national vote. 2 states already split their vote totals, and each and every state can do so. Split by district; proportion of total vote, state wide vote for 2 electors, and then by district. Lots of options that could make the race more competitive. But DEMS won't give up the guarantee of NY and CA, and GOP wont ever concede to a national vote. The roadblocks from doing something better are from both sides of the aisle.

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traderbillNov. 3, 12 1:33 PM

I'm sorry my4cents but your argument is precisely why we have two amendments on the ballot: we elect our leaders to do just that - lead! But you wish to then take every issue back to the voters? If you think we are in gridlock now, try that! Then prepare to surrender your TV set to a solid stream of ads that mislead and demean. Looks like you learned nothing from the last Wisconsin election. It is not winner-take-all. Even the winners are supposed to look at the interests of ALL Americans - once elected! To end on a positive note: buy network stock as they will be the only ones left making money!

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jdlellis1Nov. 3, 12 1:56 PM

Part of the challenge with discussions calling on abandoning the electoral college resides with such a change requiring a Constitutional Convention which would/could open up the agenda to a myriad of Constitutional change proposals. Considering the nations balanced, yes balanced, nature of one side versus the other at approximately 50/50, nothing short of a stalemate of political ideologies and actions would result. Given the framework of the Constitution to limit the role of the federal government, perhaps the current political climate is not as messed up as many believe.

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hobie2Nov. 3, 12 2:02 PM

The main reason we must have the electoral college? Having it forces a decision by an independent body to pick a president by a certain date and keep the government running no matter the lawsuits, claims, chicanery, or moves by any party of group. No way not to have a President, no way to keep a President in office by messing with the election - period.

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gadflyNov. 3, 12 2:44 PM

My idea (which has no chance), is to give every state 1 EC vote, then distribute the remainder according to how many votes were cast in each state. That way, the states with the greatest number of votes cast would (at least in theory) have greater influence on the outcome and, consequently, any attempts at voter suppression would (again, at least in theory) reduce that influence.

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justsayinNov. 3, 12 3:49 PM

If each state would split their electoral college votes based on their own state's popular vote, then this silliness with Ohio & Florida getting so much attention every election would be ended, and yet we'd keep many of the benefits of the EC as well (such as ensuring each state has a proportional say in the election). If you went strictly with popular vote then the silliness - especially the candidate visits - would shift dramatically to the most populace areas. And ill timed major events (such as Hurricane Sandy) could drastically and unfairly affect election results. @lafool explains well why more states may never follow the lead of Neb and Maine (two states that split their EC votes) but I still think splitting the EC votes is the best though perhaps imperfect solution.

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