Electoral College: Discuss!

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wfooshee

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Since @Dotini says that discussion of the merits or flaws of the Electoral College is off-topic for his poll thread, let's make another thread. I searched, I don't want to revive a 16-year-old thread.

The biggest criticism of the Electoral College is that it does not give a fair outcome related to the popular vote. Folks in California whine that their vote doesn't count as much, have as much weight as someone's vote in a small state. Here's the fact, though: their vote doesn't count against a vote from another state at all!!!!

The United States is not a democracy, no matter how many times people say that the Electoral College is screwing up our democracy. It was designed to not allow popular vote for the Presidency.

Our country is a Federal Republic. There is no governmental process anywhere in the United States as a nation that is based on one person, one vote. Every election in this country is within a precinct, a municipality, a county, a district, or a state. We have exactly ZERO national elections.

When an American thinks he casts a ballot for a Presidential candidate, he actually casts a ballot for the candidate he wants his state's Electors to vote for. That vote for President only counts against other voters within the same state. My vote in Florida is not "less important" than a vote from Montana, because I'm not being counted against Montana voters, only Florida voters.

Los Angeles County has a higher population that the bottom 11 states combined. That imbalance of population is exactly what the Electoral College protects against. The largest 8 or 10 cities, all traditionally Democratic, would rule the popular vote, and thus the Presidential election. Why should that power reside in such a small area of the country, with a completely different set of issues and problems than the rest of the country has?

The Presidential election is not a national election, it is a collection of state elections, in keeping with federal representation according to population of the states. Personally I find it incredible that NO ONE crying out for the abolition of the Electoral College is also crying out for the abolition of Congress, whose representation at the national level is apportioned the same way as Electoral College votes per state.

The important thing to realize about the Electoral College is that is a process of Federal representation, as is everything else that happens at the national level. It is no different from other governmental processes in that respect, and because we are a Federal Republic, it functions exactly how it is supposed to function.
 

Joey D

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For the electrical college to work better, states should split their electoral votes by the state's popular vote. So if X states has 10 electoral votes and Candidate A gets 60%, Candidate B gets 10%, and Candidate C gets 30% the electoral votes should be split up a C-A gets 6, C-B gets 1, and C-C gets 3.

It doesn't make sense for C-A to get 51% of the state's vote and get all 10 electoral votes. That's ignoring what nearly half the state wants. I know Nebraska already does this and @huskeR32 can probably chime in with how it works and if it's beneficial for the state or not. I think Maine is the same way.
 

Danoff

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This again.

tenor.gif


I went searching for the old thread you mention, but then I realized that I was actually in favor of the EC back then and said a bunch of stuff I now disagree with. So I felt it best to leave that thread in the dust. Just to cover my tracks.

The biggest criticism of the Electoral College is that it does not give a fair outcome related to the popular vote. Folks in California whine that their vote doesn't count as much, have as much weight as someone's vote in a small state. Here's the fact, though: their vote doesn't count against a vote from another state at all!!!!

This is not at rebuttal to that first complaint. This is just you defining your way away from that first complaint. You do it again too. Let's see:

The United States is not a democracy, no matter how many times people say that the Electoral College is screwing up our democracy. It was designed to not allow popular vote for the Presidency.

When an American thinks he casts a ballot for a Presidential candidate, he actually casts a ballot for the candidate he wants his state's Electors to vote for. That vote for President only counts against other voters within the same state. My vote in Florida is not "less important" than a vote from Montana, because I'm not being counted against Montana voters, only Florida voters.

The Presidential election is not a national election, it is a collection of state elections, in keeping with federal representation according to population of the states.

The important thing to realize about the Electoral College is that is a process of Federal representation, as is everything else that happens at the national level. It is no different from other governmental processes in that respect, and because we are a Federal Republic, it functions exactly how it is supposed to function.

Our country is a Federal Republic. There is no governmental process anywhere in the United States as a nation that is based on one person, one vote. Every election in this country is within a precinct, a municipality, a county, a district, or a state. We have exactly ZERO national elections.

All of this is just you trying to define away the problem. "It works that way because it's the Electoral College. Look, we have the EC because we have the EC. The EC is the EC. It works the way it does because it's the EC and the EC is what we have. The EC is designed to be the EC so it works like an EC because it was designed that way so it is!"

So... try addressing the actual complaint. "The biggest criticism of the Electoral College is that it does not give a fair outcome related to the popular vote."

That last quote above is suuuuuper misleading. We have all kinds of democratic elections in this country that are subject to a straight popular vote. Tons. The republic is super democratic, democracy shows up all over the place.

Let's get to your actual arguments.

Los Angeles County has a higher population that the bottom 11 states combined. That imbalance of population is exactly what the Electoral College protects against. The largest 8 or 10 cities, all traditionally Democratic, would rule the popular vote, and thus the Presidential election. Why should that power reside in such a small area of the country, with a completely different set of issues and problems than the rest of the country has?

Easy answer, because there are tons of people there.

Personally I find it incredible that NO ONE crying out for the abolition of the Electoral College is also crying out for the abolition of Congress, whose representation at the national level is apportioned the same way as Electoral College votes per state.

This one undermines your point, quite a lot. It demonstrates that people are not against the disproportionate representation per se, but against the president being elected in that manner. It also demonstrates that we don't need the president elected that way because we've got it covered with the Senate. So no need to worry about those small states. What you're saying is that because people are reasonable and want a balanced approach that takes into account your concerns but also the desire for a fair popular result for the presidency, that they're not being consistent because they're not extreme enough. Advocating for an extreme democracy at all levels is not required (or desired) here.
 
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Thanks for the great info so far fellas, much appreciated. I’m new to politics in general, the impeachment back in January caught my interest and I’ve been trying to learn more ever since, it’s been quite interesting so far.

I have a question. Without the EC, would there ever be a republican president again?(if most of your big cities lean democrat), and if so, would that be a bad thing for the country as a whole?
 

Joey D

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I have a question. Without the EC, would there ever be a republican president again?(if most of your big cities lean democrat), and if so, would that be a bad thing for the country as a whole?

Yup, George W. Bush won the popular and electoral vote in 2004.

But with America, it sort of goes in cycles. We have a Democrat as president, half the country dislikes them, sooner or later more people get fed up, then a Republican becomes president. The pattern then repeats over and over again. Really it comes down to what party the president is who makes the most boneheaded move. When that happens, we typically switch. People were sick of war in 2008 which is presumably why Obama walked away with the election (not that it stopped any wars).

As for would it be better to have a Democrat as a president? The answer to that is going to vastly different depending on who you ask. In my opinion, it doesn't really matter whether a Democrat or a Republican is president. The differences between them now are down to a handful of social policies. Trump is an outlier since he's not like any Republican we've had before. I can't imagine the Republican party will continue to be like that going forward since it's not sustainable, especially as the older generations die off and more and more younger people start being affected by what the government does.

Really, what would be best for the country in my opinion is a pretty middle of the road president who can work well with both sides, doesn't attempt to divide us, and has the country's best interest at heart. Really up until Trump, we sort of had that with some presidents leaning a little bit more to the right or left of the US's middle ground (which is vastly different than say, Canada's middle ground).
 
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Yup, George W. Bush won the popular and electoral vote in 2004.

But with America, it sort of goes in cycles. We have a Democrat as president, half the country dislikes them, sooner or later more people get fed up, then a Republican becomes president. The pattern then repeats over and over again. Really it comes down to what party the president is who makes the most boneheaded move. When that happens, we typically switch. People were sick of war in 2008 which is presumably why Obama walked away with the election (not that it stopped any wars).

As for would it be better to have a Democrat as a president? The answer to that is going to vastly different depending on who you ask. In my opinion, it doesn't really matter whether a Democrat or a Republican is president. The differences between them now are down to a handful of social policies. Trump is an outlier since he's not like any Republican we've had before. I can't imagine the Republican party will continue to be like that going forward since it's not sustainable, especially as the older generations die off and more and more younger people start being affected by what the government does.

Really, what would be best for the country in my opinion is a pretty middle of the road president who can work well with both sides, doesn't attempt to divide us, and has the country's best interest at heart. Really up until Trump, we sort of had that with some presidents leaning a little bit more to the right or left of the US's middle ground (which is vastly different than say, Canada's middle ground).

Thanks very much for the answer, it’s much appreciated man. :cheers:

Edit: One more question I’ve been wanting to ask someone this, but I don’t know anyone who could answer it. Why does any country allow negative politics adds? Why do they not just make a rule that says you can’t talk about opponents in your adds? I’d much rather see adds from people telling us the good things they plan to do if elected vs the bashing your opponent and saying nothing about yourself that seems to end up happening in a lot of cases.
 
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UKMikey

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Thanks very much for the answer, it’s much appreciated man. :cheers:

Edit: One more question I’ve been wanting to ask someone this, but I don’t know anyone who could answer it. Why does any country allow negative politics adds? Why do they not just make a rule that says you can’t talk about opponents in your adds? I’d much rather see adds from people telling us the good things they plan to do if elected vs the bashing your opponent and saying nothing about yourself that seems to end up happening in a lot of cases.
Isn't this the kind of thing you see from those minority parties that hardly anyone votes for? Although maybe less people voting for the main parties would be a good thing.
 

PeterJB

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Wouldn't laws controlling the tone of political ads be a free speech violation?
 
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Isn't this the kind of thing you see from those minority parties that hardly anyone votes for? Although maybe less people voting for the main parties would be a good thing.

I’m not sure, I haven’t learned much about the smeller parties just yet. Maybe that will be next on my list. Is that what they usually do?

Wouldn't laws controlling the tone of political ads be a free speech violation?

I don’t know, I’m not sure if the laws on that are the same down there as they are here or not. I was just curious, I just thought it may be nicer to see more positivity from our leaders and potential future leaders. :)

What about all adds at least having to be fact checked before airing to the public then?
 

huskeR32

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I know Nebraska already does this and @huskeR32 can probably chime in with how it works and if it's beneficial for the state or not.

Nebraska has three Congressional districts. One consists of Omaha and a good chunk of its surrounding metro area. The second is the eastern 20% or so of the state other than Omaha, and Lincoln makes up by far the biggest chunk of the district population. The third is the 80% or so remaining area, which is largely rural. Each district's electoral vote goes to the candidate who won the popular vote in that district. The two other electoral votes (the "Senate" votes) go to the winner of the statewide popular vote.

In 2008, the district comprised mostly of Omaha voted for Obama. That was the first and only time Nebraska has actually had a split vote. I would definitely say that it's beneficial. Any time an outcome more closely aligns with how the people voted is positive, if you ask me.

As for @wfooshee's post to start this whole thing off, @Danoff nailed it; you just ran in circles saying "The EC because the EC because the EC because the EC..." We all know what it is and how it works. And something shouldn't just continue to exist simply because it has existed. The question is, does the Electoral College serve a useful purpose any longer?

As far as I'm concerned, the answer is a resounding "no." The principal original purpose of the Electoral College was to simplify the election process. In the late 1700s, news didn't really get around all that fast. The average American citizen couldn't be expected to keep up on all the goings on in Washington. This presented a problem for the founders - how could a largely uninformed electorate be trusted to vote on national issues? If each state instead sent electors to Washington to vote on their behalf, that much smaller number of people could be more easily informed. Not to mention it got rid of the need to figure out how to collect and count ballots from across the country, in a time when the mail could take weeks to get to its destination.

None of these challenges remain in the modern world. Information travels in real-time, virtually everyone has internet access right there in their pocket. And our modern election system can get votes counted in a matter of hours. There's no good argument to keep it around.

As far as the "small state" argument goes - that's just revisionist history. At best, it may have been a factor in deciding how many electors to allot to each state, but it absolutely was not one of the reasons for the existence of the EC in the first place.

And while we're on the subject of how many electors each state gets, there was another reason for the Electoral College - to appease the slave states. You see, there was no way they were going to give blacks the right to vote, so a direct election was out of the question. But an indirect election that gave each state one vote per member of Congress got around that. Because of the Three-Fifths Compromise, each slave counted as 3/5ths of a person for purposes of Congressional representation. So, the Electoral College allowed the slave states to get some extra voting power out of their slaves without having to, ya know, actually let them vote.

So, yes, part of the EC's existence is due to a compromise between two opposing factions of states. But it wasn't big-versus-small; it was free-versus-slave. Yet another thing that's utterly irrelevant in modern America.

The Senate is where the small states were granted some extra power, very much intentionally. But it makes no sense to claim that small states should get more of a voice in the election of the President. It's a national office that represents us all equally. And we should all vote for it equally. There is literally only one reason to say otherwise - because your "side" currently benefits from the broken, antiquated nonsense that we currently are saddled with.
 

wfooshee

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All of this is just you trying to define away the problem. "It works that way because it's the Electoral College. Look, we have the EC because we have the EC. The EC is the EC. It works the way it does because it's the EC and the EC is what we have. The EC is designed to be the EC so it works like an EC because it was designed that way so it is!"
That's not even remotely what I said! I was quite clear in showing that the EC is a representative process, representing voters in the states the same way they get represented in their local, county, and state representative bodies, and at the national level, by their Representatives and Senators in Congress. I was also quite clear in saying that the EC representation is within their own state, and their vote does not "compete" (for lack of a better word) with a vote from elsewhere. Again, just like any election in any state. There's no circular logic in anything I said!
We have all kinds of democratic elections in this country that are subject to a straight popular vote.
Not at the national level, which is the entire point. I addressed that:
Every election in this country is within a precinct, a municipality, a county, a district, or a state. We have exactly ZERO national elections.
There is nothing at the national level done by public popular vote, and there shouldn't be. That's not a Federal Republic.

Advocating for an extreme democracy at all levels is not required (or desired) here.

Advocating for an extreme democracy is exactly what I hear folks say when they want to abolish the Electoral College. Popular vote! Popular vote! Popular vote! What is that if not extreme democracy? I'll admit it's not as extreme as abolishing Congress and putting every legislative action to popular referendum. But still, the Electoral College is a representative Federal process, NOT a democratic one, which NO ONE seems to understand.
 

Danoff

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That's not even remotely what I said! I was quite clear in showing that the EC is a representative process, representing voters in the states the same way they get represented in their local, county, and state representative bodies, and at the national level, by their Representatives and Senators in Congress. I was also quite clear in saying that the EC representation is within their own state, and their vote does not "compete" (for lack of a better word) with a vote from elsewhere. Again, just like any election in any state. There's no circular logic in anything I said!

You keep trying to define your way around the issue. Try addressing the actual problem you posed in your first post:

"The biggest criticism of the Electoral College is that it does not give a fair outcome related to the popular vote."

You still haven't touched it.

Not at the national level, which is the entire point. I addressed that:

I'm not disputing it, I'm calling it super misleading. Because there is a ton of straight popular voting in this country. You're saying that a national popular vote is somehow incompatible with the country because we don't have one. But... it's not incompatible because we use the popular vote a ton, even in instances where we otherwise have representatives. It's a non-argument. Once again, you're kinda trying to define your way into being correct.

There is nothing at the national level done by public popular vote, and there shouldn't be. That's not a Federal Republic.

There shouldn't be, why, because there's not? And there's not because there shouldn't be? Not circular at all. [/s]

Advocating for an extreme democracy is exactly what I hear folks say when they want to abolish the Electoral College. Popular vote! Popular vote! Popular vote! What is that if not extreme democracy?

Extreme democracy would be abolishing the Senate... like... what I wrote... did you read it?
 
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huskeR32

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Every election in this country is within a precinct, a municipality, a county, a district, or a state. We have exactly ZERO national elections.

And within all of those other elections, the person is elected directly by the people they represent. The presidency is the only office handled differently.

There is nothing at the national level done by public popular vote, and there shouldn't be.

Why not? The president is the one elected official that represents us all. Why shouldn't we all have an equal say in who that is?
 

VBR

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Why does any country allow negative politics adds? Why do they not just make a rule that says you can’t talk about opponents in your adds? I’d much rather see ads from people telling us the good things they plan to do if elected vs bashing your opponent and saying nothing about yourself that seems to end up happening in a lot of cases.

Politicians would be lost if they weren't allowed to Ad Hominem each other.

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem
 

polysmut

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I asked this in another thread with the electoral college in mind. I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with it but it could be relevant. Nobody replied.
Is the situation with the USA and its constitution equivalent to a contract between all of the states?
 

Danoff

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I asked this in another thread with the electoral college in mind. I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with it but it could be relevant. Nobody replied.

I'm not sure how to reply to that but... no not really very similar. Maybe you can be more specific.

Post Civil-War US is less similar to a contract than Pre-Civil War US.
 

polysmut

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I'm not sure how to reply to that but... no not really very similar. Maybe you can be more specific.

Post Civil-War US is less similar to a contract than Pre-Civil War US.
If a number of states all agree to form a federation and follow a set of rules or a constitution, I'd have thought it would work on the principle of a contract to which all the states are party.
Differences between international law and contract law may mean there are major practical differences.
 
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This again.
All of this is just you trying to define away the problem. "It works that way because it's the Electoral College. Look, we have the EC because we have the EC. The EC is the EC. It works the way it does because it's the EC and the EC is what we have. The EC is designed to be the EC so it works like an EC because it was designed that way so it is!"

Danoff is right: you're creating a circular argument - there's an EC because there's an EC.

What exactly is the problem with "extreme democracy"? Direct voting by the population ... as practiced in that hotbed of anarchy & chaos - the Federal Republic of Switzerland?

Americans are brainwashed from birth to believe that their system of government is the best in the world. The rest of us can see quite clearly the glaring problems with the way in operates in practice. The US Constitution was created in the 1700's under a very particular set of historical & practical circumstances. There is no way on earth that a similar electoral system would be set up - federal or not - if it were to be created now.
 

Danoff

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If a number of states all agree to form a federation and follow a set of rules or a constitution, I'd have thought it would work on the principle of a contract to which all the states are party.
Differences between international law and contract law may mean there are major practical differences.

Well, the rules of the constitution are for the federation itself, not the states (although eventually it grew to include some rules for states). The states are also not allowed out of the contract under any terms (see the civil war). New states were adopted into the federation without any say in renegotiating a separate contract.
 
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If a number of states all agree to form a federation and follow a set of rules or a constitution, I'd have thought it would work on the principle of a contract to which all the states are party.
Differences between international law and contract law may mean there are major practical differences.

Imagine "a number of states" agreeing in the present to form a federation & one of those states being California with a population of 40 million & another one being Wyoming with a population of 595,000 ... & California agreeing to the same representation in a national Senate as Wyoming? It wouldn't happen. There would be no rational justification for an arrangement like that.

It seems to me that the autonomy of States - "States Rights" - would be the most reasonable & equitable protection for the less densely populated areas of the country.

I mean, it is what it is, & other countries also have inequitable electoral arrangements due to history & tradition ... but that isn't a reason to pretend those arrangements make rational sense.
 
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EC isn't going to go anywhere soo long as it favours one party over the other.

Any excuse will do, but the real reason is obvious.
 

MatskiMonk

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Americans are brainwashed from birth to believe that their system of government is the best in the world. The rest of us can see quite clearly the glaring problems with the way in operates in practice.

I'd have to say as a Brit, we fail to see the glaring problems with the way our OWN system operates in practice, I'm not sure we pay the American system any attention - and just assume, that like we assume of our own system, it represents democracy in its best form.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again. In practice, I believe that what most people want isn't democracy, it's to live under a dictator with whom they agree.
 

Dotini

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I've said it before, but I'll say it again. In practice, I believe that what most people want isn't democracy, it's to live under a dictator with whom they agree.
I'd say that most people don't want ideology or policy, they want something useful and practical like peace and prosperity.
Accordingly, they will go with the regime or system that produces it.
 

UKMikey

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I've said it before, but I'll say it again. In practice, I believe that what most people want isn't democracy, it's to live under a dictator with whom they agree.
That sounds familiar...

tenor (2).gif


Unfortunately, we still have to cater to the views of people with whom we don't agree who nonetheless pay taxes which support our society.

Democracy is the least worst method of achieving this so it's hard to sympathise with posters like wfooshee who seem to be so against it. Just because someone's country isn't categorised as a democracy doesn’t mean they have to stamp out all and any kinds of democracy in their political system. People need to be represented or they'll give up, drop out (and maybe start trying to tear the system down).
 

MatskiMonk

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People need to be represented or they'll give up, drop out (and maybe start trying to tear the system down).

This. But most people don't understand how little they are represented*. They might think that it's pointless (voter apathy), but they won't understand the reason why they're not represented... I think it's only when that happens that people get frustrated enough to demand change to the system, rather than just change to the people in it.

I'm speaking more now of the system here in the UK, than the electoral college system. I'm just trying to figure out how my gripes with UK democracy play out in the US system.
 
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Yup, George W. Bush won the popular and electoral vote in 2004.
Actually not. Didn’t Gore win the popular vote in 2000 and GW got the EC?

So if no EC Gore would have been President in 2000 then ‘04(presumably depending on how the clown handled 9/11.)
 

UKMikey

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I'm speaking more now of the system here in the UK, than the electoral college system. I'm just trying to figure out how my gripes with UK democracy play out in the US system.
I think that's the reason for my interest in this thread as well. Our representation in the UK isn't perfect so it's interesting to peek over the fence at our neighbours to see if they're handling it any better or more fairly.
 

Joey D

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Actually not. Didn’t Gore win the popular vote in 2000 and GW got the EC?

So if no EC Gore would have been President in 2000 then ‘04(presumably depending on how the clown handled 9/11.)

True, but a Republican still won the popular vote that year. It's hard to say what could've been though. Going back Geroge H.W Bush won his election by popular vote, as did Reagan.
 

Groundfish

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Since @Dotini says that discussion of the merits or flaws of the Electoral College is off-topic for his poll thread, let's make another thread. I searched, I don't want to revive a 16-year-old thread.

The biggest criticism of the Electoral College is that it does not give a fair outcome related to the popular vote. Folks in California whine that their vote doesn't count as much, have as much weight as someone's vote in a small state. Here's the fact, though: their vote doesn't count against a vote from another state at all!!!!

The United States is not a democracy, no matter how many times people say that the Electoral College is screwing up our democracy. It was designed to not allow popular vote for the Presidency.

Our country is a Federal Republic. There is no governmental process anywhere in the United States as a nation that is based on one person, one vote. Every election in this country is within a precinct, a municipality, a county, a district, or a state. We have exactly ZERO national elections.

When an American thinks he casts a ballot for a Presidential candidate, he actually casts a ballot for the candidate he wants his state's Electors to vote for. That vote for President only counts against other voters within the same state. My vote in Florida is not "less important" than a vote from Montana, because I'm not being counted against Montana voters, only Florida voters.

Los Angeles County has a higher population that the bottom 11 states combined. That imbalance of population is exactly what the Electoral College protects against. The largest 8 or 10 cities, all traditionally Democratic, would rule the popular vote, and thus the Presidential election. Why should that power reside in such a small area of the country, with a completely different set of issues and problems than the rest of the country has?

The Presidential election is not a national election, it is a collection of state elections, in keeping with federal representation according to population of the states. Personally I find it incredible that NO ONE crying out for the abolition of the Electoral College is also crying out for the abolition of Congress, whose representation at the national level is apportioned the same way as Electoral College votes per state.

The important thing to realize about the Electoral College is that is a process of Federal representation, as is everything else that happens at the national level. It is no different from other governmental processes in that respect, and because we are a Federal Republic, it functions exactly how it is supposed to function.

Truth.
It’s not the United States of New York City.
:)