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Comments about ‘Jay Evensen: Electoral College must stay, no matter what happens Tuesday’

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Published: Thursday, Nov. 1 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Kevin J. Kirkham.

I agree. Lets get rid of all the unnecessary and redundant parts of government. Start with Senators, then states, then side-by-side cities, etc. etc.

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

I think it's time to put all americans in the same pot. One vote per person, no better or worse than any other.

red state pride
Cottonwood Heights, UT

@ Roland.. what do you mean "small States are overrepresented in the electoral college"? That doesn't even make sense. If anything they are under-represented. If States were equally represented they would all have the same number of electoral votes: 2. Just like each State has 2 Senators. I think you mean that the people of small States are overrepresented which is arguably true - if you believe in the worst form of Government which is true democracy. But our Federal Government was initially set up so that States and citizens would have equal representation. That basically ended with the direct election of our "House of Lords" (the US Senate).
I'm just looking forward to seeing all the flip-floppers who criticized the electoral college in 2000 become true believers in the Constitution and start singing the praises of our founding fathers when Barack whens the electoral college and loses the popular. (A consolation prize for me to assuage my despair if Mr O is re-elected.

eagle
Provo, UT

Small states are overrepresented and that was the intent. Whether that is a good thing now vs. 200 years ago is a good argument.

Wyoming has three electors and about 500,000 people, it's elector ratio is 1 per 167,000 est. CA has an elector for about 600,000 people, again best guess.

I don't think it is even an arguable point that smaller states have it good in the structure of the electoral college.

But the real advantage/disadvantage now with the electoral college in present-day politics, is that unless you're a swing state, your basically ignored by the candidates.

HP in Dixie
Atlanta, GA

I think we need to remember the Founding Fathers and give them a great big thanks for the Electoral College. This one part of the Constitution, along with two senators per state, that has made each state relavent all these many years. Sometimes we don't appreciate what we have until we lose it.

rightascension
Provo, UT

As it did in 2000, The electoral college can actually award an election to a person who came in second in the popular vote. This alone is reason enough to get rid of the electoral college and replace it with a straight majority winner becomes president system.

Mark l
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

There is no such thing as a national popular vote. There are fifty-one separate elections in the various states and the district of columbia. We don't have any national elections. The electoral college system is a bit more complicated than having a direct popular vote, but that is no reason to get rid of it. We can all understand our election process.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

HP in Dixie,

The founders were amazing but not perfect men. The document they gave us was similarly amazing but not necessarily perfect - hence the ability to amend it. The electoral college may be an institution that has run its course in terms of its usefulness to the nation. As to keeping states relevant – read the prior posts. Most states are not relevant (big or small) unless they are considered winnable by either candidate. States that reliably vote one way or the other are not focused on at all.

Mark 1,

Agreed that there is not so much of a national election but more separate elections in the various states. That is what we have now. But the question is, is that what we should have going forward? It is not a matter of complexity or whether we can understand it but whether the electoral college best serves our needs.

jbbevan
Heber City, UT

Mr. Evensen makes some good points. Nevertheless, the electoral college was conceived during a time when transportation and communication were much more difficult than they are today. For that matter, so was our entire system of government. I won't take on that broader subject, but as to the electoral college, in states like Utah (and presumably all of the non-swing states) the electoral college is a disincentive to vote. After a candidate gets 51% in a state, my vote doesn't count any more; whereas, in a popular vote system every vote counts and thus there is a higher incentive to vote. More participation by the electorate is always a good thing and could only make the democracy more vibrant. I agree that this is no more likely to happen than congress voting itself a pay cut or voting for term limitation. The fact that these kinds of things can't happen (practically speaking) shows the elements of ineffectiveness in the system. Our system may be the best compromise, but it's not perfect.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

The Founding Fathers did not envision political parties when they put this system together. In fact they wanted to avoid that. They wanted the Electors to act as a "nominating" body and then the House to actual choose the President. Unfortunately regionalism and political parties are now the law of the land. Why should anyone pay attention to the 41 states whose vote can be counted on to go to one party or the other? I appreciate Jay's argument, but I just don't think the current system accomplishes what he wants it to accomplish.

oldgulph
VILLANOVA, PA

A survey of Utah voters showed 70% overall support for the idea that the President of the United States should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.

Support for a national popular vote, by political affiliation, was 82% among Democrats, 66% among Republicans, and 75% among others.

By gender, support was 78% among women and 60% among men.

By age, support was 70% among 18-29 year olds, 70% among 30-45 year olds, 70% among 46-65 year olds, and 68% for those older than 65.

NationalPopularVote

oldgulph
VILLANOVA, PA

The National Popular Vote bill would change current state winner-take-all laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who get the most popular votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states).

The bill preserves the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections. It ensures that every vote is equal, every voter will matter, in every state, in every presidential election, and the candidate with the most votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country.

Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency.

Minority party voters in each state would matter to their candidate.

Votes beyond the one needed to get the most votes in the state would not be wasted. Utah alone generated a margin of 385,000 votes for Bush that were "wasted" in 2004.

oldgulph
VILLANOVA, PA

With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere would be counted equally for, and directly assist, the candidate for whom it was cast.

Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states. 80% of states and voters would no longer be ignored. The political reality would be that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the country.

When and where voters matter, then so are the issues they care about most.

When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the Electoral College votes-- enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the candidate who receives the MOST popular votes in the country.

There is no evidence or reason to expect the emergence of some unique new political dynamic that would promote multiple candidacies if the President were elected in the same manner as every other elected official in the United States. Since 1824 there have been 16 presidential elections in which a candidate was elected or reelected without gaining a majority of the popular vote.

dwayne
Provo, UT

Twin Lights,

"Can anyone tell me what the benefits are for a non-swing state? I am looking for a discussion not an argument."

Yes. Money and their elections being final. Not having to recount votes and take part in lengthy lawsuits when their election results are clear cut just because every vote in the state could sway the popular vote nationally. Pick up a 1,000 votes in Arizona, 10,000 in Texas, 20 in Podunk, etc and it could drastically alter the outcome nationally. That's a recipe for disaster. A single congressional district doesn't need a representative for our government to function but our government needs a President. It's one thing for a district to be left unrepresented while competing candidates contest the results.

The Electoral College localizes national elections. People in New York do not need to concern themselves with 10 contested votes in Precinct X of Provo, Utah. If Utah goes overwhelmingly for Romney the electoral college gives him those votes. With the popular vote it makes sense to contest every single vote in every single precinct of the country even in states where a majority went for a certain candidate.

MarkMAN
West Columbia, TX

Our country's name describes the reason for the electoral college. We are the United States of America, not the country of America. We were not to be like others, where top down government ruled and the great tyranny ran unrestrained. The United States was to be a bottom up government, an organization much better suited. The STATES were to decide the government for only a few delegated powers targeted at true interstate issues (mostly removing interferences), and foreign relations. God has given us the right to choose our governments (though most of the time history shows that tyranny reined), what we can not choose is the final outcome of eternal natural law. Top down approaches end in tyranny. The process control dead-time is long, usually generations, but the final end is certain.

Chose wisely.

Mark

dwayne
Provo, UT

Ute in NV,

"Still not a perfect system, but these seem to me to be a couple of simple tweaks to the system to respond to some of the imperfections in the current Electoral College."

It's hubris to assume that our founding fathers who debated this very issue are wrong and you are right. What you see as "imperfections" is the perfection of compromise. It's what keeps a country together and functioning. To understand our system the Electoral College should be seen as a temporarily designated Congress tasked with a specific function. It's designed the way it is because it is meant to model the body that it is functioning as in selecting the President of these United States and its Congressional government. We do not have a monarchy even if its elected. Understanding why the U.S. House breaks a tie in the Electoral College for the Presidency and the Senate a tie in the Vice Presidency is to understand the Vice President is the presiding officer of the Senate and the President is the presiding officer of the United States. This is a perfect check and balance and compromise.

dwayne
Provo, UT

MarkMAN,

You are right. The United States is a group of 50 separate states or countries. Each state and division of states sends representatives to a Congress of the states. The United States was meant to be unique in this regards.

The President, Vice President and other executive positions aren't directly chosen by the people because they don't represent us. They are either chosen or appointed directly by a Congress of the states or by an Electoral College designed to model the Congress to place checks on the Congress by the states. Our founding fathers debated if the Congress should directly choose its Presidency and Vice President like it does its other officers or if there should be intermediary bodies and they designed the Electoral College because they recognized that while the President served at the pleasure of Congress it should not have unrestrained authority over the President from appointment to impeachment and removal from office but instead the states should directly appoint a special Congress called an Electoral College to appoint the President and each State, not Congress or the Constitution, would decide how those electors were appointed.

Thanks for your wisdom.

Semi-Strong
Louisville, KY

Dwayne,

A good point reference recounts. I would assume that other countries that have a popular vote have figured out how to solve that.

Voting by congressional district might solve the problem. Retain winner take all but apply it to each congressional district and give only one electoral vote to each. Removing the senators from the equation would solve much of the problem of vote weighting and would seem to significantly decrease the likelihood that the popular vote winner would not be the actual winner. This should also solve the vote recounting issue and because districts rather than states would be the focus, more areas would matter than just a few swing states.

Of course the president and vice president represent the people. Who else? Also, they don’t serve at the pleasure of congress. The president and congress are constitutional equals.

It is not hubris to think about changing our constitution some 200 years later. We have changed how we elect the vice president, how we elect senators, who can vote, etc.

MarkMAN,

We are certainly a country. We are citizens of the USA with the right to reside in any state we choose.

dwayne
Provo, UT

Semi-Strong

Removing Senators from the equation would remove the principles upon which the U.S. was established and eliminate a proper check and balance within our system. The President is not a representative anymore than the Secretary of Defense is a representative of people. We don't directly elect or remove a President from office. That authority is held by the States and Congress

The goal isn't to "decrease the likelihood that the popular vote winner wouldn't be the actual winner." The goal is to maintain supremacy of States and Congress. Under the Constitution Congress is the supreme branch of government since they are representatives and the executive isn't. It's authority is divided between two Houses because it's the most POWERFUL branch. It's power is so enormous that it has to be divided and each House stands independent of the other branches and House. It has a check on all the actions of the other branches and can even remove them but even when its temporarily checked by the others it can override them Can Presidents remove every Congressman? Can Congress remove every Executive officer at the same time? Whose more powerful

wrz
Ogden, UT

Retain the Electoral College, but give the win to the person with the most popular votes if/when that occurs. Problem solved.

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