The Electoral College System

SethBullock

Moderator
Staff member
Today, I responded to a poster on the Yank forum. That particular poster has been posting for years on two topics. One of them is his/her opposition to the Electoral College system we use to select our Presidents. Today I noticed yet another post on this topic. This was my answer. I post it here to generate discussion. Here it is ...

I may have mentioned this to you before. If so, it's been a while.

Your obsession with harping against the EC belies a fundamental misunderstanding about how our government is supposed to work. You revealed that misunderstanding with these few words ...

"And it is a serious matter because the EC is at the heart of electing the Head of Government"

The President is not the "head of government".

The President is the executive in charge of the Executive Branch of our government. His job is to execute the will of Congress. Other than that, the Constitution gives almost no power to the President that cannot be overridden by Congress. Put another way, the Executive Branch is supposed to be the servant of Congress, carrying out the jobs that Congress gives it to do.

Our Founders wisely limited the power of the presidency. They set up a system whereby we are governed by the rule of law, and it was to be the responsibility of the Congress to enact such laws. The executive branch was supposed to be the branch that implements those laws. Effectively therefore, we are governed by Congress, our representatives that we directly voted for, not the President.

What the EC system does is make the President acceptable to and accountable to a cross section of states from coast to coast.

What I sense from folks like you is that you are placing far too much importance on who the President is or which party he is with. You seem to believe we should be governed by the Executive Branch rather than by our representatives in Congress.

I do not want us to be governed by a sole power in the Executive Branch. That is too similar to a dictatorship for my American blood. That is similar to the Russian system wherein the legislative branch is a rump adjunct to the government, basically powerless, a government that is run by a dictator.

No thanks.
 

SethBullock

Moderator
Staff member
It's a triumvirate, really, under the Constitution. 3 branches of government, each with its own unique powers that are not possessed by the others. Each one plays a crucial role in the governance of the nation.

The Congress (Legislative Branch) makes our laws. The President (Executive Branch) implements the laws. And the Judicial Branch tests the constitutionality of our laws and possesses the power to nullify laws that don't meet constitutional standards.
 

greggerypeccary

Active member
It's a triumvirate, really, under the Constitution. 3 branches of government, each with its own unique powers that are not possessed by the others. Each one plays a crucial role in the governance of the nation.

The Congress (Legislative Branch) makes our laws. The President (Executive Branch) implements the laws. And the Judicial Branch tests the constitutionality of our laws and possesses the power to nullify laws that don't meet constitutional standards.
Are you familiar with the term 'Head of State'?
 

Shellandshilo1956

Active member
The electoral college was created to provide a buffer for the selection between Congress and the people. And, to allow a balance between state and federal powers in keeping with Federalism.

Before the 12th Amendment there were only two ways to be elected as President. By popular vote, or by Congress. If the president was elected only by popular vote, then being popular in states with the larger populations would give a well known candidate an unfair advantage. If the president was selected only by the Congress, then the party in power, party loyalties, and internal and external corruption, could be used to also give a candidate an unfair advantage.

Creating the EC gave every state at least 3 electoral votes(2 senators, and 1 representative), regardless of the state's population. And, with the exception of only 2 states(Maine and Nebraska), the candidate with the most popular votes, would win ALL of the electoral votes as well. This seems to me to be a good and fair buffer system.

I can see 3 problems with the EC system. But they are definitely not critical.

It's not purely democratic, since people are only voting for electors and not for the president.
It allows for the election of a candidate who did not win the popular votes. But since this has only happened twice since 1888(Trump and Bush), it seems a mute point.
The winner-take-all EC votes is not proportional to the losing candidate's losing margin.

Finally, in order to get rid of the 12th Amendment, it will take an act of Congress, including the Constitutional process. I seriously doubt that we will see smaller states voting to give up the voting power that they already have.

The president has immense powers., and lots of latitude to use them. The President is the Head of State(the US). He can make treaties, appoint SC Justices and Federal court Judges. He can now take us into any war, attack any country, kill any foreign citizen, without any approval from congress or any international laws. He can appoint ambassadors, and grant reprieves and pardons to criminals. He also appoints his own cabinet members, and can sign/veto any bill into law. So, the president is not just a figurehead and powerless. I'm sure the murdering of Soleimani and his group, is evidence of that presidential power.
 

greggerypeccary

Active member
A generic term for the chief executive of any country. But it’s not in the Constitution.
Americans and their precious Constitution :ROFL1

In the Australian Constitution, there is no mention of political parties a Cabinet, or a Prime Minister.

We have them all though.
 

DreamRyderX

Active member
I can see 3 problems with the EC system. But they are definitely not critical.

It's not purely democratic, since people are only voting for electors and not for the president.
It allows for the election of a candidate who did not win the popular votes. But since this has only happened twice since 1888(Trump and Bush), it seems a mute point.
The winner-take-all EC votes is not proportional to the losing candidate's losing margin.

Finally, in order to get rid of the 12th Amendment, it will take an act of Congress, including the Constitutional process. I seriously doubt that we will see smaller states voting to give up the voting power that they already have.

The president has immense powers., and lots of latitude to use them. The President is the Head of State(the US). He can make treaties, appoint SC Justices and Federal court Judges. He can now take us into any war, attack any country, kill any foreign citizen, without any approval from congress or any international laws. He can appoint ambassadors, and grant reprieves and pardons to criminals. He also appoints his own cabinet members, and can sign/veto any bill into law. So, the president is not just a figurehead and powerless. I'm sure the murdering of Soleimani and his group, is evidence of that presidential power.
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The United States of America was founded as a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy.

Many of the Founding Fathers despised pure Democracy, where the majority could easily trample on the the Rights of the Minority. So they created a Republican System which protected Minority Rights....A System of Government ruled by Laws....... Laws written within The United States Constitution.......

The US Constitution was written in 1787, ratified in 1788, and in operation since 1789, the United States Constitution is the world's longest surviving written charter of government. Its first three words—"We the People"—affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens.
Laws in the US Constitution ensure that the United States can not be ruled by a single powerful person (a Tyrannical Dictator), nor a small group of powerful individuals (an Oligarchy), nor the 'Majority Rule of a Mob' created by a Democracy.


BTW....Most all of the Presidential Powers you mention are subject to Congressional &/or Supreme Court oversight & approval...............

A System of Checks & Balances.....The Separation of Powers



Source: Cornell Law - Legal Information Institute
......Separation of Powers in the United States is associated with the Checks and Balances system. The Checks and Balances system provides each branch of government with individual powers to check the other branches and prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful.

For example, Congress has the power to create laws, the President has the power to veto them, and the Supreme Court may declare laws unconstitutional.

Congress consists of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives, and can override a Presidential veto with a 2/3 vote in both houses.

The Checks and Balances System also provides the branches with some power to appoint or remove members from the other branches.

Congress can impeach and convict the president for high crimes, like treason or bribery. The House of Representatives has the power to bring impeachment charges against the President; the Senate has the power to convict and remove the President from office.

In addition, Supreme Court candidates are appointed by the President and are confirmed by the Senate. Judges can be removed from office by impeachment in the House of Representatives and conviction in the Senate.

In this way, the system provides a measure, in addition to invalidating laws, for each branch to check the others.

The United States is not a Democracy......it is a Constitutional Republic.
 
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Shellandshilo1956

Active member
..


The United States of America was founded as a Republic, not a Democracy.

Many of the Founding Fathers despised pure Democracy, where the majority could easily trample on the the Rights of the Minority. So they created a Republican System which protected Minority Rights....A System of Government ruled by Laws....... Laws written within The United States Constitution.......



Laws in the US Constitution ensure that the United States can not be ruled by a single powerful person (a Tyrannical Dictator), nor a small group of powerful individuals (an Oligarchy), nor the 'Majority Rule of a Mob' created by a Democracy.


BTW....Most all of the Presidential Powers you mention are subject to Congressional &/or Supreme Court oversight & approval...............

A System of Checks & Balances.....The Separation of Powers



Source: Cornell Law - Legal Information Institute


The United States is not a Democracy......it is a Constitutional Republic.
The government gets it power directly from the people. But, since it would be impossible/impractical to get 330M people together to vote or agree on anything/everything, I agree that the US government is not a true Democracy. Hence why we elect representatives to make policies for us. Hence why the US is a Democratic Republic. It is both a representative democracy, and a direct Democracy. Decisions are made by majority vote on local and county levels(direct Democracy), representatives are elected by a majority vote(direct Democracy), and final decisions are made by the majority of the representatives votes(representative Democracy). Do you know how many "Authoritarian, Oligarchies, and Dictatorships, also use the term "Republic" to describe their government? So, it is the practice, and not the name that matters.

But I have seen just how easily this form of democracy can be manipulated and threatened. We live in a divisive society. A society where truth is not always held to be self-evident, and all men are not created equal. A society where women are openly objectified. A society where "We the people", has been reduced to voter apathy, corporate interests and political tribalism. A society that can render all informed discussions and debates impotent. A society that uses twitter and the internet trolls to attack/influence any dissenting opinions. A society where expert opinion and scientific verifiable evidence can becomes no longer credible. A society that depends on the false equivalences and disinformation created by paid celebrities and trusted leaders.

These were not a part of the fundamental foundation of a democratic society envisioned by our founding fathers. That is, the freedom of expression, choice, and from fear?

The US government could be more accurately defined, as a Constitutional Federal Republic. Because the people in the entire USA(not individual states) derive their power from the Constitution. But this is not how Local, State, and Federal governments work in practice. IMHO
 

SethBullock

Moderator
Staff member
@Shellandshilo1956

@DreamRyderX

DreamRyderX is right that almost all of the president’s powers can be overridden by Congress. The president has certain responsibilities, like nominating judges, ambassadors, and cabinet secretaries, but I believe they all have to be confirmed by Congress. The president may respond to a military attack or impending attack, but he may not engage a sustained war without the approval (official or tacit) of Congress.

This is all as it should be. As Americans, we should want our elected representatives to have greater power than the chief executive.
 

DreamRyderX

Active member
or the corporations that donate the most money
And your point? Are you trying to say Political Donations (Independent Expenditures) by Organizations, including Corporations, are somehow unlawful?

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States concerning the relationship between campaign finance and free speech. It was argued in 2009 and decided in 2010. The court held that the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for political campaigns by corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citiz...that the,labor unions, and other associations.

If the American People want to make it illegal for corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations to donate to political campaigns, which presently is protected by the First Amendment, then they have a remedy.

It's called a Constitutional Amendment

Until then, such political expenditures are protected by the First Amendment, & the Government can not infringe upon these entities from spending their money as stated in Citizens United v. FEC.


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HBS Guy

Head Honcho 💉💉
Staff member
The EC is a silly system that helped smaller states enter the Union (as I understand it.)

We have silly systems too: Tasmania with 1/10th the population of just Sydney sends 12 Senators to Parliament like all the other five states.
 

DreamRyderX

Active member
..



In order to change the US Constitution regarding the election of the President & the Vice-President, by either removing, modifying, or replacing the Electoral College, the American People would have to act through ratifying a new Constitutional Amendment expressing such removal, change, or replacement of the Electoral College.

Process to Amend the US Constitution:

Someone......a Congressman, a Senator, any Citizen.......proposes an Amendment to the US Constitution.

Individually, each House of Congress........The US House of Representatives & the US Senate.........must agree to debate, & then vote on the Amendment.

Each House must pass the Amendment by a two-thirds (2/3) Super-Majority vote.

(435 X 2/3 = 290 Representatives) & (100 X 2/3 = 67 Senators).

If Successful in the US Congress then the proposed Amendment gets sent to the 50 individual States, where it requires 3/4 of all the States (38 of the 50 States) to Ratify the new Amendment.

At the State level it is either done within the individual State's Legislatures, or if mandated by the individual State's Constitution, it must be sent to the Citizens of that State to vote on the proposed Amendment.

Usually the entire ratification process is limited to Seven (7) years.



There have only been 27 Amendments to the US Constitution
in over 230 years.

Approximately 11,770 measures have been proposed to amend the US Constitution from 1789 through January 3, 2019.....over the span of 230 years.

Since 1789, Congress has sent only 33 proposed Constitutional amendments to the States for ratification. Of these, only 27 have been ratified.

That simply means that well over 11,000 proposed Amendments to the US Constitution could not be agreed to by a Super-Majority of Congress.

The first 10 Amendments ratified by the States, to become part of the US Constitution (the People's Document), were/are called "The Bill of Rights".........the Rights of the American People.

So, in over 230 years, only 27 Amendments (17 if you don't include the American People's Bill of Rights) made it through the entire process successfully.


BTW only one (1) Constitutional Amendment has ever been enacted to repeal another, & never has a repeal of a Right of the People ever been even suggested for ratification by the American People.

The 21st Amendment, ratified in 1933, repealed the 18th Amendment, ratified in 1919, which had instituted Prohibition.


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SethBullock

Moderator
Staff member
The EC is a silly system that helped smaller states enter the Union (as I understand it.)

We have silly systems too: Tasmania with 1/10th the population of just Sydney sends 12 Senators to Parliament like all the other five states.
Yes, it's not proportional, but is it really silly? It sounds to me like this gives Tasmania a measure of power over actions or laws that affect Tasmania. And it also makes Australian citizens living in Tasmania feel like full participants in Australia's affairs, rather than irrelevant.
 

Shellandshilo1956

Active member
Sorry Seth. I
@Shellandshilo1956

@DreamRyderX

DreamRyderX is right that almost all of the president’s powers can be overridden by Congress. The president has certain responsibilities, like nominating judges, ambassadors, and cabinet secretaries, but I believe they all have to be confirmed by Congress. The president may respond to a military attack or impending attack, but he may not engage a sustained war without the approval (official or tacit) of Congress.

This is all as it should be. As Americans, we should want our elected representatives to have greater power than the chief executive.
Sorry Seth, I'm not sure what your position is. Do you want to abolish the Electoral College system? If so, then what other fair buffer system would you replace it with?

If a candidate is only elected by the total number of popular votes, than the smaller states will have very little influence in the Democratic voting process, or outcome. And, if candidates are elected by congressional votes, than the people will have very little influence in the Democratic voting process, or its outcome.

Since a discrepancy between the electoral votes and the popular votes in only 2 cases since 1888, I don't see a real problem here.
 

SethBullock

Moderator
Staff member
Sorry Seth. I


Sorry Seth, I'm not sure what your position is. Do you want to abolish the Electoral College system? If so, then what other fair buffer system would you replace it with?

If a candidate is only elected by the total number of popular votes, than the smaller states will have very little influence in the Democratic voting process, or outcome. And, if candidates are elected by congressional votes, than the people will have very little influence in the Democratic voting process, or its outcome.

Since a discrepancy between the electoral votes and the popular votes in only 2 cases since 1888, I don't see a real problem here.
No, I support the EC system. I agree that it gives smaller states a voice. It makes them matter.

I agree with the Founders who established an Executive Branch whose fundamental reason for existence is to implement the laws that Congress passes, and whose powers are extremely limited beyond that primary function.

The establishment of the EC system was a reflection of the Founders’ intent for the Congress to be the center of our politics, not the presidency.

I believe that those who want to do away with the EC system are in contravention with the intent of our Founders. They want a more powerful presidency, and I strongly disagree with them.
 

Shellandshilo1956

Active member
No, I support the EC system. I agree that it gives smaller states a voice. It makes them matter.
Good. It certainly is the best of both worlds. It reduces the chances of electing a popular dictator/authoritarian. And, it reduces the chances of a corrupt party clone being elected. Our founding fathers were very big on checks and balances, and the separation of powers. As well as to ensure accountability. Trump pushed these Constitutional controls to their limits.

I agree with the Founders who established an Executive Branch whose fundamental reason for existence is to implement the laws that Congress passes, and whose powers are extremely limited beyond that primary function.
Not sure what you mean by "extremely limited beyond their primary purpose.". The Executive Branch has given the President more powers today, than was outlined in the Constitution. Thanks to things like the "Patriot Act", "Executive Decisions", being "Commander in Chief", the "Veto Powers", Cabinet and Justices appointment powers, the power of the President is not that limited.

The President can attack any country for the first 90 days, for any reason, before he even needs to consult congress. The President can veto any bill for any reason, preventing it from becoming law. The President can make executive orders(proclamations) to control federal and state governments(and the people indirectly), whenever he wants. The President can end or create treaties with other countries, if he wishes. The President can shut down the government(not all) until the federal budget is balanced. The President is also the Chief Negotiator for the government, and speaks with other leaders directly. And, the President can even pardon criminals if he wants.

Unfortunately, todays presidents have adapted to changes in society. And so have their powers. But this is about the EC system right?
 
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