27 September 2007

Does your vote count?

When the Constitution was created, there were provisions included within Article II that provided us with a body of electors from each State. These electors were to cast their ballots for who they wanted as President and then cast a separate ballot for who they wanted as Vice-President. Each State is awarded a certain number of Electoral votes based on the number of Senators and Representatives in the House. When all votes are tallied in each State, the electors will compile their votes and the candidate with the most electoral votes will get those electoral points.

Here is where it becomes redundant. 27 of the 50 States require the electors to vote the same way as the popular vote. Some of those States even have penalties for those who do not do so. I'm not saying this is wrong, but what I don't understand is if they are required to vote the same as the popular vote, why have the Electoral College at all? Why not just tally up the popular vote and the candidate that wins in that State receive those electoral votes?

The answer lies in Article II of the Constitution and Amendment 12 of the same document. These require States to have electors. There have been a couple of attempts to change this, but nothing has ever come close to being passed through the House or Senate.

I don't believe we should have electoral votes or points at all. Like we saw in the 2000 election, the candidate with the most popular votes did not win the election (Al Gore). Although this is very rare, it should not happen. There should not be a reason why the candidate with the most popular votes should not receive the Presidency.

Direct popular vote would also encourage more third party candidates. Since most third party candidates are not funded as well as their more popular adversaries, they find it difficult to travel to a lot of States and try to "win" each. With the popular vote, they could easily be seen on T.V. debates, or on the internet and people would know that their vote did not get wasted because of the electoral college process.

Of course, the Electoral College has at least one benefit. When and if there is a recount needed, it is only done in the particular state where there may have been a discrepancy. There may not be a way to differentiate votes by State in a popular vote contest, leaving a recount to the whole country.

Overall, I see the electoral process as a big waste of time. I feel that if people thought that their votes really counted in an election, such as with a popular vote contest, that there would be more people at the polls.

Are there any other opinions on the subject?

For more information: NARA FAQ

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