.... #9 .... #9.... #9 ....
hey, even in the swing states, there are local issues that need to be decided, and state legislators to elect.

And in Arizona, all those three-digit propositions.
--Nick B Tue Nov 2 11:56:34 2004
Yeah, I had a few token non-binding referendum. 
--Kirk Tue Nov 2 13:04:53 2004
Something to remember for the electoral college: without it, small states get more screwed. Honestly, I don't totally understand the resentment at the Electoral College, maybe because it makes people feel like their votes don't really mean anything (esp. in the 2000 election). I guess I think, though: "This is a Democratic Republic, not a direct democracy. It's like this for a reason: The common person doesn't necessarily do the research on the topics (or have a good, objective media to do the research for us, these days) and the 'majority' can want to do some unjust things, like ummmmm. . .enslave black people and don't allow women to vote. . .how many white men do you think wanted slaves emancipated and women to vote?" But alas. . .I don't really like the 2000 decision. Maybe there can be more of a combination, something like to Senate and House of Representatives or some combination of appointed members and elected members. All in all, though, the Electoral College can be a good thing to reduce the level of the Tyranny of the Majority (I remember reading something about that by Aristotle).

Anyway. . .that's my tangent on today's entry.
--Mr. Lex Tue Nov 2 14:34:06 2004
Screw the small states! Let the attention paid to them be in balance with their population. Sure, some won't get much political attention...but then again, neither has any BIG state that's firmly in one camp or the other.

Look, if you want a pansy-ass elite actually the ones who pick the president, fine. Let's do it that way. King Mob sucks. But that's not what the electoral college is...it's just frickin' rounding error, rounding up to the nearest state, with special attention to tiny states who are relatively over-represented in congress.

Anyway, Walter Dillinger wrote up a defense of the Electoral College in Slate... http://slate.com/id/2108991/ though he argues more for the legitimacy of Bush or some future non-popular-vote presidential winner than making a strong case for the status quo.

Yeah, the Tyranny of the Majority can suck, and Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner. But some half-assed measure like the electoral college ain't the way to rectify it. It really irks me that my vote gets swept up into the general vote for my state...it would irk me even more if I wasn't voting the way my state seems likely to.
--Kirk Tue Nov 2 15:28:18 2004
Wow. . .no offense taken at all, but wow. . .Kirk, I've never seen you so vehement. =D
--Mr. Lex Tue Nov 2 16:00:14 2004
Heh, I'm not quite as vehement as that sounded. I mean, if I was THAT vehement, I wouldn't post the Walter Dillinger link with a somewhat opposing viewpoint. But it's just the engineer's "this is wrong and broken and should be fixed" mentality coming out.
--Kirk Tue Nov 2 16:10:55 2004
Well after reading that article, I can start seeing everyone making an argument against appointed people making any decisions. Conservatives hate that MA has appointed by elected people making legislation regarding gay people getting married. Liberals hate that the country has appointed by elected people deciding who the President is.

I'm just saying that I can't think of a better system than the Electoral College. I, personally, don't think popular vote works as well. So I guess I would like to challenge you, and anyone else who doesn't like the Electoral College, to come up with either (a) a good, reasoned out argument for popular elections rather than the Electoral College or (b) some better system.

How would the single vote on a national level make a difference compared to a single vote on the state level then moves onto the national level?
--Mr. Lex Tue Nov 2 16:12:09 2004
Oh, instinctively annoyed engineers. . .what would we do without them?

Anyway, article(s) of note I found about electoral college (interesting note that MA is one of the states that would benefit from a popular vote system):

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110005582
--Mr. Lex Tue Nov 2 16:21:59 2004
I gotta say Lex, I think for most people, "popular election" makes intuitive sense, and that puts the onus on people who like this kind of oddball system...but your arguments that the e.c. has an elite making the decisions don't hold water...electors are expected to vote the way their state does, and in most states it's winner-take-all. So, essentially, you're arguing for rounding error...it's still the people's votes that matter, but we don't count the votes themselves, we round up to the nearest state. For me, I feel the strongest argument against the e.c., besides the obvious "the person who fewer people voted for got to be president", is that it moves the political attention away from the population centers and into some random-ass "swing states", which to me feels like a de-facto disenfranchisement of people whose states lean one way or the other. There hasn't been that much of this in 2004, but remember the "vote swap" websites in 2000, where people in a strongly red or blue state would promise to vote for like, Nadar, for some Nadarite in a swing state, who would then vote for, well, usually Gore? That that seemed like a reasonable idea to ANYONE shows you how absurd the system is. 

In short, the electoral college is neither fish nor fowl. It's not really democracy, it's not really elite...it's just ROUNDING ERROR, and I'm dismayed that my vote counts less here than if I were a citizen of, say, Wisconsin.
--Kirk Tue Nov 2 16:25:30 2004
For against the electoral college:

http://www.fairvote.org/op_eds/electoral_college.htm
--Mr. Lex Tue Nov 2 16:28:14 2004
I will agree with you on each state doing the whole "winner take all" situation. Nonetheless, I don't necessarily like a Massachusetts vote having more power than a Wisconsin vote since, in the long run, there's a whole variety of different interests at hand. Overall, the Wisconsin voters may have a valid interest for the whole nation that a Massachusetts person just doesn't understand or can't see. I guess I see it, if anything, as more of an "election of interests" more than an "election of the people." Nonetheless, I will agree with you on the matter of the state "winner takes all" issue.
--Mr. Lex Tue Nov 2 16:33:24 2004
Aughhhh. . .I need to stop writing. . .Anyway, I read an article in Scientific American that pretty much concluded with the argument that pretty much anyone could have made an argument for all the different forms of elections and vote counting that can occur, and that a person can find such a system that will allow their candidate to win.
--Mr. Lex Tue Nov 2 16:37:53 2004
"a Massachusetts vote having more power than a Wisconsin vote"...NO! It's about having each vote be THE SAME. Now, there will be more MA votes than WI votes, because MA has more people. That's how democracy works. The electoral college is not the place to "fix" the problem of possible rural under-representation due to having less population. The current "swing state" system, where a state gets power only because it's about half-republican, half-democratic is just nuts, and small states being over-represented for no particular reason doesn't make sense either.

Also, I resent the implication that I only dislike the electoral college because A. my candidate lost the e.c. but won the popular vote in 2000 and B. my state is screwed and doesn't get the political attention its population would indicate. I probably wouldn't argue as loudly, but the engineering "this is wrong" mentality would compel me to still argue that the Electoral College is broken by design.
--Kirk Tue Nov 2 16:48:04 2004
Also, that whole WSJ and elsewhere arguments that a, say, Clinton, with a popular plurality but not a majority (due to a 3rd party candiate) would be less legitmate without an electoral college majority to hide behind seems weak to me as well. It also means that a third party canidate will never seem to get any meaningful votes, since it's so hard to win any given state...
--Kirk Tue Nov 2 16:52:43 2004
Kirk, move to Wisconsin. If enough people do it, your vote can be worth less there, too!

--LAN3 Tue Nov 2 16:56:09 2004
So, then it's better that the candidates focus their campaigns on population centers? That would mean a tyranny of the majority, especially since the majority of the people live in the cities, so then, urban interests would be catered over rural interests, which could arguably mean tyranny of the Democrats.

As for implications, I'm really pushing all available arguments to the logical limit rather than implying a certain person believes this or that. Playing more of a Devil's Advocate than anything. Overall, though, I, personally, can't think of anything better than the Electoral College except for maybe the Electoral College that votes in proportion to their state's popular vote.
--Mr. Lex Tue Nov 2 16:56:35 2004
Well. . .What happened to the Whigs? Which party was it that didn't exist at the beginning of the US? Was the it Republicans or the Democrats? How did those parties gain prominence?
--Mr. Lex Tue Nov 2 17:05:06 2004
The thing I like about the electoral college is that it's the one plan I've seen that, because of the way in which it mirrors the senate, 2 votes per state whether they need them or not, New Hampshire is, in a real sense, allowed to sit at the same table as California. This is not merely to remind New Hampshirites that their voice counts, serves also to remind Californians that bigger isn't better, and that the states all committed to the formation of our nation and strength its constitution (and Constitution) in spite of their relative sizes and popularities. A popular election will be a popularity contest even more than it is at the moment.

I wonder how Hawaii feels about the value of their votes? I mean, it's chiefly disenfranchised by the time zones and the instantaneous transmission of polling results. How about we cut the cables on election days from now on?
--LAN3 Tue Nov 2 17:05:58 2004
Actually, this year there seems to be a lot less of the projection ahead, but it definately is a problem in general.

Yes the election is a popularity contest. No I don't see how the electoral college changes that, except to make politicians pander to Ohio and Wisconsin and Florida et al.
--Kirk Tue Nov 2 18:27:46 2004
When you think of it realistically, instead of in extreme terms, the electoral college alienates all minority voters in every non-swing state. In this year's election, one of the most contentious in years, there were only maybe 10 swing states. So, 40 states out of 50 are virtually ignored.

Given the way federal campaigns are run nowadays, I'd think that, if we had popular voting, candidates would just air national TV ads and focus more on national-level campaigns instead of just individual states, cities, or population centers. Thus, it would bring far more people into the process.
--Max Tue Nov 2 19:06:47 2004
National-level campaigns, I don't know how that viably can happen. Different issures for different areas.

As for minorities in different states, those minorities can very well be more of a majority or at least more of a mid-sized "population" than other states.

The popularity contest, well, I have to bow to my idea about hwo can you really run an effective nation-wide campaign? Honestly, what issues on a concrete level really apply to everyone? Sure, we want to be safe from the terrorists, have jobs, money, health, etc. etc., but how can that can get addressed concretely and on a national level? At least with the electoral college, it forces the candidates to try thinking of concrete issues and plans on a more pluralistic level, even if that pluralism really does just address a couple states.
--Mr. Lex Tue Nov 2 19:39:36 2004
Nationally leaders should think nationally. Or as the Bush administration does it, "think stupidly, act globally"
--Kirk Tue Nov 2 21:51:29 2004
It's a bad thing that the president has to pander to Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, et al?
--LAN3 Wed Nov 3 11:23:05 2004
There's barely any "et al" about it. Bush has his core of support, Kerry has his, thanks to the Electoral College, the swing states are the only states that end up mattering, so they get to set the agendas of the camapigns.

It really feels like this election is decided by 140,000 Ohioans, and in some way, only them.
--Kirk Wed Nov 3 12:05:23 2004
What Kirk mentioned before, and what seems missing from e.c. debates is that is forces a two party system. There is virtually now way for a third party to get any representation in the e.c.

It maintains the two-corporate-party-hegemony beyond all usefulness. There is no way for a third part to have any impact unless they can get a majority in a single state. Even if they can grab 20% is all states, they still get screwed. So, with to the "swing-state problem," the rounding error issue, and the win-popular-lose-electoral problem there seems to be a pretty good reason to get rid of it.


There does not need to be a replacement - direct popular election works fine. It has nothing to do with the fact that we are a Republic.
--John S. Wed Nov 3 12:32:13 2004
Grade A stuff. I'm unqusetioanbly in your debt.
--Arry Sun Dec 11 22:42:14 2011
WoO9HP Enjoyed every bit of your article post.Much thanks again. Awesome.
--Microsoft OEM Software Thu Mar 8 02:00:42 2012
Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws ntasidepriel elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in ntasidepriel elections. Six regularly vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota), and six regularly vote Democratic (Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC) in ntasidepriel elections. Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska  70%, DC  76%, Delaware 75%, Idaho  77%, Maine  77%, Montana  72%, Nebraska  74%, New Hampshire 69%, Nevada  72%, New Mexico  76%, Rhode Island  74%, South Dakota  71%, Utah  70%, Vermont  75%, West Virginia  81%, and Wyoming  69%. Nine state legislative chambers in the lowest population states have passed the National Popular Vote bill. It has been enacted by the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Vermont. None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states. Of the 22 medium-lowest population states (those with 3,4,5, or 6 electoral votes), only 3 have been battleground states in recent elections NH NM, and NV. These three states contain only 14 of the 22 (8%) medium-lowest population states' total 166 electoral votes.
--Liliane Wed Mar 14 23:44:31 2012

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