I found an interesting article that purports to present the pros and cons of the Electoral College System. As I read this article it heavily favors having the electoral college.
It gives these reasons to prefer the electoral college to a national popular vote:
- contributes to the cohesiveness of the country by requiring a distribution of popular support to be elected president
without such a mechanism, they point out, president would be selected either through the domination of one populous region over the others or through the domination of large metropolitan areas over the rural ones. Indeed, it is principally because of the Electoral College that presidential nominees are inclined to select vice presidential running mates from a region other than their own.For as things stand now, no one region contains the absolute majority (270) of electoral votes required to elect a president. Thus, there is an incentive for presidential candidates to pull together coalitions of States and regions rather than to exacerbate regional differences. Such a unifying mechanism seems especially prudent in view of the severe regional problems that have typically plagued geographically large nations such as China, India, the Soviet Union, and even, in its time, the Roman Empire.
I see more merit to this argument then I would like. This is especially so under the plurality voting system (aka ‘first past the post’) which is our current election method that tends to favor extremest candidates over centrist candidates. Does anyone have a good rebuttal to this point?
- enhances the status of minority interests
This is so because the voters of even small minorities in a State may make the difference between winning all of that State’s electoral votes or none of that State’s electoral votes. And since ethnic minority groups in the United States happen to concentrate in those State with the most electoral votes, they assume an importance to presidential candidates well out of proportion to their number. The same principle applies to other special interest groups such as labor unions, farmers, environmentalists, and so forth.
It is because of this “leverage effect” that the presidency, as an institution, tends to be more sensitive to ethnic minority and other special interest groups than does the Congress as an institution. Changing to a direct election of the president would therefore actually damage minority interests since their votes would be overwhelmed by a national popular majority.
I disagree with this point. The ‘minority interest’ only counts in our current system in a very arbitrary unbalanced way that strikes me as unabashed pandering with a very short attention span.
- contributes to the political stability of the nation by encouraging a two-party system
There can be no doubt that the Electoral College has encouraged and helps to maintain a two party system in the United States.
In addition to protecting the presidency from impassioned but transitory third party movements, the practical effect of the Electoral College (along with the single-member district system of representation in the Congress) is to virtually force third party movements into one of the two major political parties. Conversely, the major parties have every incentive to absorb minor party movements in their continual attempt to win popular majorities in the States. In this process of assimilation, third party movements are obliged to compromise their more radical views if they hope to attain any of their more generally acceptable objectives. Thus we end up with two large, pragmatic political parties which tend to the center of public opinion rather than dozens of smaller political parties catering to divergent and sometimes extremist views. In other words, such a system forces political coalitions to occur within the political parties rather than within the government.
In my view this is irrelevant to the process by which a president and vice president are selected. The argument really seems to be against proportional representation in congressional bodies which is a distinct topic.
- maintains a federal system of government and representation
To abolish the Electoral College in favor of a nationwide popular election for president would strike at the very heart of the federal structure laid out in our Constitution and would lead to the nationalization of our central government – to the detriment of the States.
Indeed, if we become obsessed with government by popular majority as the only consideration, should we not then abolish the Senate which represents States regardless of population? Should we not correct the minor distortions in the House (caused by districting and by guaranteeing each State at least one Representative) by changing it to a system of proportional representation?…
It is true that it would decrease the degree to which we have a federal system of representation. In my view this is not harmful. There is a place for national governments and a place for state-level governments. In my view the national government should favoring representing the people of the nation and not the states that compose that nation. In answer to the author’s questions:
- I am ok with continuing to have a senate that represents each state equally
- I feel that the house of representatives should be restructured to represent people rather than states. The current system where they represent states is quite corrupt and heavily gerrymandered.