• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"Loser takes all - it must be time to abolish the Electoral College". Discuss.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

c) "Loser takes all - it must be time to abolish the Electoral College". Discuss. The outcome of the 2000 American election, in which the electoral college produced a result that was inconsistent with the popular vote, led to many calls for the reform, and even the abolition of this institution and the introduction of some form of direct popular election of the President. A mass of protestors dissented against the electoral college, branding it as a "dinosaur that should be retired to a museum" (Senator Richard J. Durbin). Polls taken in the two months after the 2000 election seemingly indicated that Americans largely supported abolishing the Electoral College in favour of a system of direct popular election of the president. Even without the salience of the 2000 election, finding such poll results would not have been surprising. Outcries to the Electoral College is nothing new - Gallup public opinion polls since the 1940s show that majorities of the public have consistently favoured reform. (Newport 2001). Indeed, there have been more attempts to reform the Electoral College than any other part of the Constitution, and aspiring reformers range from across the political spectrum, including Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon. In 1969, the House passed a measure to replace the electoral college by a nationwide popular vote, however, was defeated in Senate. ...read more.

Middle

Consequently, critics of the Electoral College suggest the possibility of some enormous mischief by which a significant number of electors would vote for some other candidate, thus frustrating the will of the voters. There have been at least 6 known cases when individual electors failed to vote for the candidate to whom they were pledged - in 1820, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1976 and 1988, although none of the Faithless Electors have affected an election's outcome. Nonetheless, in a tight election, such as in 2000, a Faithless Elector has the potential to undermine a President's legitimacy. If there is no clear majority in an Electoral College election, the House of Representatives has the constitutional right to decide the Presidency. This can be viewed as a threat to the democratic wishes of the people, and further, could again result in a popular vote 'loser' winning the 'ultimate prize'. This situation occurred twice, in 1800 and 1824, and there were fears that the 1968 election could shift in the same direction. Further criticisms targeted at the Electoral College is that it discourages turnout since the election is indirect and many states are invariably uncompetitive. Pre-election polls provide a fairly reasonable indication of the popular vote winner in a particular state, hence many voters believe their effort in voting is futile. ...read more.

Conclusion

By spreading electoral power around to the fifty states, the Electoral College acts as a check and balance in the Constitution against the President. Finally, there is a boost in status of large minority groups, since candidates must claim their support in order to gain a majority. An example of this leverage effect is the choice of Liebermann as Gore's running mate, who helped gain the Jewish vote in New York. In conclusion, the advantages that the Electoral College are endowed with are overshadowed with the disadvantages and controversy that surrounds the present system. However, the fact that chaotic elections, such as Bush-Gore 2000 election, are infrequent, combined with the reluctance of those in power to change a system that conferred that actual power, mean that any constitutional changes would have a struggle being passed. Although I agree with the view that the Electoral College is "an appendage to an anachronism" (Thurber), its roots are too deeply imbedded into the American Constitution. A more realistic solution would be evolution of the system. By allowing states to split their votes by congressional district, and then providing a bonus of two electoral votes to whoever carries the state, the electoral college vote may be brought more in line with the popular vote, as well as increasing the incentive for Presidential candidates to campaign throughout the country. As the Economist concluded, "kicking scapegoats [the Electoral College] is fun. But sometimes gentle reform makes for better government." ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United States section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United States essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Consider the view that the arguments for having an electoral college to elect the ...

    5 star(s)

    2000: a Washington DC elector should have cast a ballot for Democrat Al Gore; instead they abstained citing the city's lack of congressional representation. Whilst this may not have made a difference in the election, in such a close race every ECV counted.

  2. US pressures groups are undemocratic, discuss

    Although few people would deny that pressure groups play an important role in US politics, critics have argued that this role may not be the one suggested by the pluralist model. Pressure groups therefore can also threaten democracy in a number of ways, with some claiming that they are merely a 'necessary evil'.

  1. Outline the differences between the electoral systems for the US Presidency, the US Senate ...

    would allow them to encroach on his authority as the leader of the federal republic. With the two main points of view on how the President should be elected, one making him too weak the other too strong, in deadlock, the compromise of an Electoral College was reached, in which the states choose the President.

  2. There is no longer any significant barriers to opporunity for African Americans ~ Discuss

    has largely been removed, especially in the all important sphere of education which ultimately equips individuals with the tools to become productive. One also cannot ignore the controversy surrounding affirmative action and its apparent effects on promoting minority interests. Several prominent African-Americans, including Clarence Thomas, have openly argued that it

  1. Identify and explain all the factors which encouraged and discouraged change during 1863-77

    representation they could continue to discriminate and would openly be flaunting the law. In the 1866 Congress elections, the Republicans had a landslide victory, which reflected support for the amendment and also encouraged change. Congress carried through a programme of Reconstruction in the south which made ratification of the Fourteenth

  2. To what extent can Reagan's electoral victory in 1980 be put down to the ...

    In contrast to this his main opponent - incumbent president, Jimmy Carter was quite the opposite to the charming, attractive Reagan. He delivered his 'crisis of confidence' speech where he found it easy to find problems but couldn't seem to deliver any solutions.

  1. A Brilliant Solution: From the Founding to the Present

    The secrecy of the convention was complete. The reasons varied from foreign diplomats that would be eager to report home on the country's economic, political and social problems to the danger their true opinions could reflect on the delegate's own prestige and political futures.

  2. The Electoral College

    When one votes for Candidate B, they are actually voting for that candidate's representative who will vote for the candidate he wants. People who oppose the Electoral College system argue that the representatives chosen to elect our nation's leader may be Faithless Electors-those chosen to vote who, after pledging allegiance to a particular candidate, vote for their pledge's opponent (Kimberling).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work