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masseya
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2002 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mnemia wrote:
My point about the EC is this:
First off, we aren't really losing any sense of representation by having the electoral college, because it's not like the electors are just making their own decision about who to vote for regardless of what the voters in their state want.

At the risk of getting back on topic.. I must have skimmed this post because I don't remember seeing this. It's actually wrong to say that the electors are not making their own decision. There are some states that have created a law about this, but those laws are of dubious constitutionality. When a state votes that it's electors should go to candidate A, that state's electors are (in the current implementation of the Electoral College..) not obligated to vote that way. They are supposed to use that as a strong indicator as which way they should vote. The laws that some states have saying that an elector must vote the way that a state's popular vote indicated have not been challenged in federal law that I know of. However, there original intent of the law would seem to strongly favor the interpretation that those laws are violating that elector's right to make an informed decision on behalf of his constituents. This has happened recently. (1976, 1988, 2000) The case in 2000 was something like an elector in Maryland refusing to vote for Gore. This made the outcome something like 271-266 instead of 271-267. Most of the time when an elector does something like this he's really shooting his wad so to speak because the public doesn't seem to like it when you don't do what they tell you to do. :)

kanuslupus wrote:
Tristam29 wrote:
Besides, this is becoming more of a non-issue with every technological advance. Candidates are getting a heck of a lot more exposure in small population centers now than they did when everyone was traveling via horse and getting to the small population centers could actually pose a threat to your life.
Exactly. Another box checked for why the EC is outdated. When The People couldn't see their representatives very often, the Representative government was the best thing that could have happened. Recounting the entire countries votes would have been way beyond practical back then. With technology, there should be no reason 'votes' aren't counted 3 times before the final tally. Actually, the vote would be counted accurately the first time.

I wasn't really meaning to refer to voting technologies. I was more talking about exposure. I think that technology actually has a much smaller impact on voting than a lot of people give it credit for. The reason is that technology has to be run by people and people are not implicitly trustable. A great way to look at this is from a computer security standpoint. No matter how good your technology is, there's a good chance that a social engineering method could be used to access the system. Who has more experience at social engineering than a politician? Essentially the problem is that no technology can stand up to red tape. :) Even if Florida had used a highly technical method of gathering votes there would be people saying that they were 'no allowed' to vote or that there was a glitch in the system or that someone reported numbers wrong or any number of things and this whole thing would have still been a huge issue.

Realistically, I think that Florida is a good example of the strength of the EC. I've been thinking about this a lot and I've consulted with some people one of whom said it very nicely and I'd like to quote it here:
Deepthroat wrote:
You can make the case that Florida is a very good example as to why we should have the Electoral College. It wasn't the Electoral College that failed - it was the popular vote. Three of our last four presdiential elections (1992, 1996, and 2000) have produced winners with less than 50% of the popular vote. But the Electoral College produced a majority vote and gave the candidate credibility to govern. Florida, as well as several others States, had very close presidential vote totals. If there were no E.C. how would we know who won? How many recounts would there have been and would the resulting recounts/court cases have left the winner unable to govern?

There are a lot of people who think that the real hero of the election is Al Gore because he was willing to let Bush lead by giving him his support as the elected President. How many close national votes would it take for someone to not be as gracious? How many times would our nation's leader actually not be a winner of our electoral system so much as a survivor?
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rac
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2002 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deepthroat wrote:
Three of our last four presdiential elections (1992, 1996, and 2000) have produced winners with less than 50% of the popular vote.

Hang on a minute. There's a huge difference between "less than 50%" and "less than another candidate". Isn't this trying to blur that distinction? Even a direct presidential election using the Plurality system doesn't care about candidates getting more than 50% of the vote or not. All that would matter is which candidate received the most votes in the election. The only time a 50% number matters is when you have a voting system that requires runoffs between the top two candidates in this case, in which case garnering >50% of the vote spares you a runoff election.

No other candidate in the race received more votes than the person who was declared president in the 1992 and 1996 elections. The same cannot be said of 2000. The outcome of the 1992 and 1996 elections would have been exactly the same with a direct popular vote for president. Again, not so for 2000.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2002 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some parting links: I consider all sources biased.

Gore won the popular vote, but look at what Bush won (From USA today map)
Florida Recounts Would Have Favored Bush
PRESIDENT RESULTS SUMMARY FOR ALL STATES

IMO, it is a sad day when the People's voice isn't heard.



Not that it is relevant to anyone but me, but seems I'm in another 'my vote won't matter' state:
'00: Bush 51% Gore 42%
'96: Dole 46% Clinton 44%
'92: Clinton 40% Bush 36%
'88: Bush 53% Dukakis 45%
'84: Reagan 63% Mondale 35%
'80: Reagan 55% Carter 31%

Considering Clinton's fairly large win (nationally) in '92, I consider that an anomoly.
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masseya
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2002 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rac wrote:
Deepthroat wrote:
Three of our last four presdiential elections (1992, 1996, and 2000) have produced winners with less than 50% of the popular vote.

Hang on a minute. There's a huge difference between "less than 50%" and "less than another candidate". Isn't this trying to blur that distinction? Even a direct presidential election using the Plurality system doesn't care about candidates getting more than 50% of the vote or not. All that would matter is which candidate received the most votes in the election. The only time a 50% number matters is when you have a voting system that requires runoffs between the top two candidates in this case, in which case garnering >50% of the vote spares you a runoff election.

No other candidate in the race received more votes than the person who was declared president in the 1992 and 1996 elections. The same cannot be said of 2000. The outcome of the 1992 and 1996 elections would have been exactly the same with a direct popular vote for president. Again, not so for 2000.
I'm not pointing this out to say that Plurality voting systems are bad. I'm mostly just trying to say that the electoral college produces a clear winner and that the results of this type of election are indisputable because the popular vote is mostly just a strong suggesstion to the electors of a particular state. If a state really wanted to, they could simply take the percentages that each candidate recieved and attempt to emulate them by having similar percentages in their electors final votes.

What is a flaw in the voting system? The way I see it there are two big problems about the final decision making process. You can have no clear cut winner or you can have chosen the wrong candidate. Which is worse? I argue that having no clear cut winner is far worse because a position with the power of the Presidency is hard enough to handle without a huge debate and controversy over who is elected where each candidate ends up looking like a child pointing a finger at the other. With either mistake there will be questions about whether the right person won after all is said and done, but at least if there's a clear cut decision then we'll be able to cut down on the long argumentative period over how to determine who is the winner.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2002 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tristam29 wrote:
I'm not pointing this out to say that Plurality voting systems are bad. I'm mostly just trying to say that the electoral college produces a clear winner and that the results of this type of election are indisputable because the popular vote is mostly just a strong suggesstion to the electors of a particular state. [...] at least if there's a clear cut decision then we'll be able to cut down on the long argumentative period over how to determine who is the winner.

I wasn't complaining about the voting system in that post you quoted either - just explicating what I thought was an important part of how it works. I was saying that 2000 is a qualitatively different animal than either 1992 or 1996. Whether or not one candidate gets >50% is irrelevant: all that matters is that you get more votes than anybody else.

It's like the story of the two guys who are being chased by a bear. One starts to run, and the other says "What's the use? You can't outrun a bear!". The response: "I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you!"

In both 1992 and 1996, the winner of the national popular vote won the electoral vote. Not true in 2000.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2002 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rac wrote:
...
In both 1992 and 1996, the winner of the national popular vote won the electoral vote. Not true in 2000.

Ok, so here's the distinction that I'm trying to make. I think that there are serious and legitimate questions about the validity and ruling power of a President or other politician who is elected without a majority of people behind him or her. If there were five candidates and the winner was only supported by 21% of the public that means that 79% didn't want to elect that person! If the other four candidates are liberal, but they have a few minor differences in opinion that divided the liberal voters, then there would be a 79% liberal population being lead by a consertive 'winning' politician. Obviously this is an extreme case that highlights the point, but I don't think that this type of problem goes away in a three candidate system. I think that this is an inherient problem in popular voting systems. The system can do one of two things:
  • It can elect the person whom a majority of people support.
  • It can elect a person who gets the most votes.
The difference between getting enough votes, points, or whatever the system uses as it's deciding factor to be the undisputed winner even if you only had one opponent who received all the other availible points/votes/whatevers and simply getting more points/votes/whatevers than anyone else is important because when you have a system that allows for people to be elected without a majority of votes/points/whatevers you're conceeding that the concerns of the majority could possibly be outweighed by the concerns of the minority. The electoral college makes this possibility much, much smaller.

As for the electoral college allowing a candidate to receive a majority of the popular vote and still lose. The popular vote is unimportant because it doesn't take into account the protections for those people who live in less populous areas that the electoral college does. Anyone running for president would know that the popular vote isn't important. It's spelled out in the electoral college process. Everyone knows the rules. They don't change during an election. This assures the process is at least as fair as the rules allow it to be. I tend to like the electoral college process and think that it's fair, so for me this system works well.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2002 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tristam29 wrote:
I think that there are serious and legitimate questions about the validity and ruling power of a President or other politician who is elected without a majority of people behind him or her.

I think the questions are more serious when another candidate in the election received more votes, but this is clearly an area on which we will have to agree to disagree.

Quote:
If there were five candidates and the winner was only supported by 21% of the public that means that 79% didn't want to elect that person!

I don't think you can draw that conclusion. It's true in a two-candidate election, but when there are more candidates, I posit that every voter has a ranking of candidates from most to least preferable, and every voter has a pivot point at which they consider themselves happy or unhappy with the outcome.

I think of it as turning my thumb completely up on candidate A, and then gradually down through B and C, until I reach D, who, if elected, would cause me to consider renouncing citizenship. Every voter has a group of candidates that are above and below the horizontal thumb line.

In your (very to-the-point) example, the liberals keep their thumb more or less up on all four liberal candidates, and down on the conservative one. Under Approval, they can vote for all four, and the most centrist liberal (who gets the most number of additional crossover votes from conservatives) would probably get elected.

Quote:
As for the electoral college allowing a candidate to receive a majority of the popular vote and still lose. The popular vote is unimportant because it doesn't take into account the protections for those people who live in less populous areas that the electoral college does. Anyone running for president would know that the popular vote isn't important. It's spelled out in the electoral college process. Everyone knows the rules. They don't change during an election. This assures the process is at least as fair as the rules allow it to be. I tend to like the electoral college process and think that it's fair, so for me this system works well.

Certainly true. I just wanted to separate two issues that Deepthroat's quote seemed to me to be blurring together. I still think it's important to disambiguate them, because clearly at least two of us have rather different opinions about which situation is more problematic.

EDIT: I also found it amusing and ironic at the time that for about two weeks leading up to the election, the pundits and pollsters were predicting that Bush might win the popular vote and lose the electoral vote to Gore, and the Republican spinsters were talking up the "will of the people" while the Democratic ones were obsessed with "the foresight of the founding fathers".
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2002 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rac wrote:
Tristam29 wrote:
I think that there are serious and legitimate questions about the validity and ruling power of a President or other politician who is elected without a majority of people behind him or her.

I think the questions are more serious when another candidate in the election received more votes, but this is clearly an area on which we will have to agree to disagree.

I find myself doing this a lot. :)
rac wrote:
EDIT: I also found it amusing and ironic at the time that for about two weeks leading up to the election, the pundits and pollsters were predicting that Bush might win the popular vote and lose the electoral vote to Gore, and the Republican spinsters were talking up the "will of the people" while the Democratic ones were obsessed with "the foresight of the founding fathers".
Yeah, but that's the nature of the beast. Everyone who is trying to get elected wants to do everything they can to actually get elected. It's sometimes quite amusing to watch though.
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