Time For Reform
& # 8211 ; Sing The Failures Of The Essay, Research Paper
Time for reform? sing the failures of the electoral collegeDescription: This paper discusses the many defects of the ElectoralCollege, and postulates possible alternate electoral procedures which probably bemore democratic. A common misconception among American is that when they vote they elect the President. The truth is notnearly this simple. What in fact happens when a individual votes is that there ballot goes for an Elector. ThisElector ( who is selected by the several province in which a ballot is cast ) casts ballots for two persons, thePresident and the Vice-President. Each province has the same figure of voters as there are Senate and Houseof Representative members for that State. When the vote has stopped the campaigner who receives themajority of the Electoral ballots for a province receives all the electoral ballots for that province. All the ballots aretransmitted to Washington, D.C. for tallying, and the campaigner with the bulk of the electoral ballots winsthe presidential term.
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If no campaigner receives a bulk of the ballot, the duty of choosing the nextPresident falls upon the House of Representatives. This luxuriant system of Presidential choice is thoughtby many to be an eighteenth century mistiming ( Hoxie p. 717 ) , what it is in fact is the merchandise of a 200 twelvemonth olddebate over who should choose the President and why.In 1787, the Framers in their infinite wisdom, saw the demand to esteem the rules of both Federalists andStates Righters ( republicans ) ( Hoxie p. 717 ) . Summarily a via media was struck between those who feltCongress should choose the President and those who felt the provinces should hold a say. In 1788 the ElectoralCollege was indoctrinated and placed into operation. The College was to let people a say in who lead them, but was besides to protect against the general public & # 8217 ; s ignorance of political relations. Why the fright of the peoplesignorance of political relations? It was argued that the people, left to their ain devices could be swayed by a fewdesigning work forces to elect a male monarch or rabble-rouser ( McManus p. 19 ) . With the Electoral College in topographic point the peoplecould make a screened determination about who the highest authorization in the land was to be ( Bailey & A ; Shafritz ( p. 60 ) ; at the same clip the fright of the freshly formed state being destroyed by a rabble-rouser could be put to restbecause wiser work forces had the concluding say. 200 old ages subsequently the system is still designed to safeguard against the nescient capacities of the people. TheElectoral College has remained comparatively unchanged in signifier and map since 1787, the twelvemonth of itsformulation. This in itself poses a job because in 200 old ages the bets have changed yet the College hasremained the same. A precaution against a rabble-rouser may still be relevant, but the College as this safeguardhas proved flawed in other capacities. These defects have shed visible radiation on the many waies to undemocraticelection. The inquiry so is what shall the precedences be? Shall the flaws be addressed or are theyacceptable idiosyncrasies of a system that has efficaciously prevented the rise of a male monarch for 200 old ages? To reply thisquestion we must foremost see a figure of events past and possible that have or could hold occurred as aresult of the flaws Electoral College. The Unfaithful ElectorUnder the current procedures of the Electoral College, when a member of the general electorate casts a votefor a campaigner he is in fact projecting a ballot for an Electoral College member who is an voter for thatcandidate. Bound merely by tradition this College member is expected to stay faithful to the campaigner he hasinitially agreed to elect. This has non ever happened. In past cases Electoral College member haveproved to be unfaithful. This unfaithful voter ignores the will of the general electorate and alternatively selectscandidate other than the 1 he was expected to elect ( McGaughey, p. 81 ) . This unfaithfulness summarilysubjugates all the ballots for a campaigner in a peculiar territory. In all equity it is of import to observe thatinstances of unfaithful voters are few and far between, and in fact 26 provinces have Torahs forestalling againstunfaithful voters ( McGauhey, p.81 ) . Despite this the fact remains that the possibility of an unfaithfulelector does be and it exists because the system is designed to besiege around direct popular electionof the President. The Numbers FlawThe unfaithful voter is an illustration of how the popular will can be intentionally ignored. The Numbers Flawreveals how the will of the people can be passed over accidentally due to defect of design ( McNown, LectureNotes, 2/20/93 ) . ( a ) 6/b ( 4 ) | ( a ) 6/b ( 6 ) Candidate a: 18| Candidate B: 22 & # 8212 ; & # 8212 ; & # 8212 ; & # 8212 ; -| & # 8212 ; & # 8212 ; & # 8212 ; & # 8212 ; | Electoral Votes ( a ) 6/b ( 4 ) | ( a ) 0/b ( 10 ) Candidate a: 3| Candidate B: 1In this theoretical illustration campaigner ( a ) receives a minority of the popular ballots with 18, but a bulk ofthe electoral ballots with three. Candidate ( B ) receives a bulk of the popular ballots with 22, but receivesonly one electoral ballot. Under the winner-take-all system, the campaigner with the bulk of the electoralvotes non merely wins the province but besides receives all the electoral ballots for that province. In this hypotheticalsituation campaigner ( a ) having a minority of the popular ballots wins the province and takes all the electoralvotes. The acceptableness of this denial of the popular will, unwilled or otherwise, is questionable to saythe least. Tie GameThe job posed by no one individual having a bulk of the electoral ballots ( a tie ) foremost came to head inthe 1800 elections. The success of political parties served to turn Electoral College members into agents ofthe parties Bailey & A ; Shafritz p. 61 ) . This so galvanized the 1800 elections that the Republican voters cast
their two ballots for the two Republican campaigners, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr respectiv
ely. It wasassumed that Jefferson would be President and Burr the Vice-President. Unfortunately their was noconstitutional doctrine to affirm this assumption. As a result the ever audacious Aaron Burr challengedJefferson election as President and the issue had to be sent to the House for resolution (Bailey & Shafritz, p. 61). Any debating on the issue was only incidental; when all was said and done the issue was decided by oneman, Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, and the Federalists were in control of the House when the decision was tobe made. Hamilton, who disagreed with Jefferson but overwhelmingly distrusted Burr, orchestrated a blankballot initiative among the Federalists which allowed the Republicans to select Jefferson as President (Bailey& Shafritz, p. 61). Though this entire incident was significant the most noteworthy aspect was the fact thatthe President was essentially chosen by one man. The final decision was taken entirely out of the hands of thepeople and was left to the mercy of the biases of a single individual. In all fairness it should be noted that the12th amendment was formulated out of the Jefferson-Burr to forever lay to rest the question of who isPresident and Vice-President in a tie. The 12th amendment stipulates that electors are to cast separate votesfor the President and Vice President, and summarily an event such as the Jefferson-Burr incident cannothappen again. (Bailey & Shafritz p. 61). In effect the 12th prevents the issue of a tie from going to the Houseunder a very narrow scope of conditions. This is far less of a solution than one which would have preventedthis issue from going to the House at all because when the issue of who would be President went to the Housein 1800, the issue of democracy was left to compromise. This all serves to reveal yet another flaw of theElectoral College process. Congressional selection of the President can lead to democratic compromise. Thiswould seem an area of concern. Though some would argue we have had 200 years to distance ourselves fromsuch maladies as the elections of 1800, the following reveals how close to home the flaws 200 year oldinstitution can hit. The Wallace DebacleIn 1968 a three-way tie nearly brought to head the same undemocratic modes of presidential selections thatemerged 200 years earlier with the Jefferson-Burr incident. The 1968 elections race was extremely close. Richard Nixon barley received a majority of the electoral votes to win the presidency. Had Nixon failed to geta majority a number of bizarre scenarios might have emerged. The candidates in the race were Richard Nixon,Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace respectively. Had Nixon failed to win a majority Wallace would have beenin a position to control who the next President would be (Bailey & Shafritz p. 65). Though he could not havewon himself Wallace could have used his votes as swing votes to give Nixon a majority, or give Humphreyenough to prevent Nixon from getting a majority (Bailey & Shafritz p. 65). In the latter instance the issuewould have, as in 1800, been sent to the House for rectification. In either instance Wallace would have had agreat deal to gain, and the temptation to wheel and deal (at the compromise of democracy) would have beengreat indeed. It is possible Wallace could have used his influence with Southern House members to getHumphrey elected. In the process he would have likely `garnered great political clout for himself. Wallacecould have bargained with Nixon for an administration position in Nixon’s cabinet in return for Wallace’selectoral votes. The possible scenarios are endless, and for the most part irrelevant. What is relevant is thatthe processes of the Electoral College again paved a path for democratic compromise, just as it did in 1800. Iftime is the mechanism for change then apparently not enough time has passed.ConclusionThe shortcomings of the Electoral College presented above are only a few of many flaws. Others flaws includethe bias toward small and large states, which gives these states a disproportionate advantage; The biastoward those who live in urban areas and therefore enjoy a stronger vote than those living in sparselypopulated areas (Bailey & Shafritz p. 63). The list of flaws is extensive. The question that still remains iswhether or not the flaws are extensive enough to warrant change? The Electoral College has successfullyprovided the U.S. with its Presidents for 200 years and has done so without allowing the ascension of ademagogue. But in the process of 200 years of electing the College has allowed the will of the people to becompromised. Granted at the time of the 1800 elections the College was young and its shortcomings were notentirely clear. 200 years later the flaws have revealed themselves or have been revealed in various fashion. The question remains then are flaws acceptable considering the duty the College performs? If the purpose ofthe College is to provide democracy but prevent demagoguery then its success seems uncertain. The U.S. hasseen no demagogue but has seen compromise of democracy. The evidence shows that the flaws of the ElectoralCollege are responsible for democratic compromise. It would seem then that the flaws of the college areself-defeating to the purpose of the college. If this is then it is definitely time for reform.1 Bailey, Harry A. Jr., Shafritz, Jay M. The American Presidency, (California: Brooks/Cole Publishing Co., 1988)Chapter III2 McGauhey, Elizabeth P., “Democracy at Risk,” Policy Review, Winter 1993: 79-813 R. Gordon Hoxie, “Alexander Hamilton and the Electoral System Revisited,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, v. 18 n. 4 p. 717-7204 John F. McManus, “Let the Constitution Work,” The New American, v. 8 n. 14 p. 195 William P. Hoar, “The Electoral College: How The Republic Chooses its President,” New American, v. 8 n. 16 p. 23-28