/ The American Electoral College

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damhan-allaidh on 13:14 Fri
I just thought I'd share these videos to clear up some confusion that is currently apparent on the "Donald the Troompa Loompa plumbs new depths" and has popped up from time to time on other politics themed threads. Strictly speaking, presidents are not elected by a straightforward majority (a contributing factor in the Gore-Bush debacle). As I, like most Americans without a degree in political science, cannot actually explain it any accessible way...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUS9mM8Xbbw - How the Electoral College works
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wC42HgLA4k - What's wrong with the Electoral College

and there are a few others if your curiosity takes you there.




wbo - on 19:10 Fri
In reply to damhan-allaidh: as ever there are pros and cons to this system. Observe that 538 will give you calculated estimates for candidates winning the college but not the popular vote and vice-versa

balmybaldwin - on 19:37 Fri
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

Interesting - so it's just like our FPTP system
Big Ger - on 21:38 Fri
In reply to balmybaldwin:
Except the people can vote for a candidate, and the "electoral college" can decide they don't like that person and vote for another.

The US system is bonkers.


> If they choose, state legislators can appoint presidential electors themselves this November, rather than leaving the matter of apportioning electoral college votes by popular vote. Then, via their chosen electors, legislatures could elect any presidential candidate they prefer.

> Remember, Americans donít directly elect the president. The electoral college does: Slates of electors pledged to support presidential and vice presidential candidates are voted upon in each state every four years. Each state, and the District of Columbia, is apportioned at least three of the 538 electors, allocated by the total number of U.S. senators and House members each state

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/03/17/if-no-one-else-stops-trump-the-electoral...
Post edited at 21:40
Philip on 21:45 Fri
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

Designed for a different age. It would be a good system in a time where you couldn't reliably poll the country on one day and where candidates might not be well enough known to vote for them.

Does seem silly in an age of electronic voting.
balmybaldwin - on 22:00 Fri
In reply to Big Ger:

Yes. that bit is particularly bonkers, but we also vote for a candidate, not a party, and they too can vote in direct contradiction to their electorate's declared positions (and often their own)

This is why we have a Prime Minister that some say "wasn't elected"
damhan-allaidh on 22:34 Fri
In reply to Philip:

True and agree. Alexander de Tocqueville didn't predict electronic voting, but he had a pretty good sense of how things would go pear-shaped in the long term. It's a bit uncanny reading Democracy in America and thinking it was written in the 1830s.
KevinD - on 23:12 Fri
In reply to Big Ger:

> Except the people can vote for a candidate, and the "electoral college" can decide they don't like that person and vote for another.

Has that ever happened in the recent past? I suspect its a bit like some of the royal powers over here (or what the UK government in theory have over some of the overseas terrorities). Could happen in theory but in practice it would be riots and general mayhem.
Chris the Tall - on 00:06 Sat
In reply to Philip:

I would say the US constitution was remarkably far-sighted for it's day. It's full of safeguards against tyranny, but also a distrust of populism and mob rule. The idea of the electoral college was to avoid party politics and rabble rousing by making the decision one step removed from the electorate- still far more democratic than any other country at that time and a risky concept to try out. Unfortunately the winner-takes-all mentality has led to a very entrenched 2 party system.

However one of the other safeguards was to make it hard to change the constitution, which is why the system remains in place. The question is whether it favours the large states - California and New York with there 50 odd votes are crucial to winning- or the small ones such as Alaska, whose 3 votes come from a much smaller population. And of course there is nothing to stop the states allocating the votes proportionally- well nothing apart from the fact that they would then be ignored by the candidates.

Still, at least the 3/5ths compromise is now obsolete
Big Ger - on 00:12 Sat
In reply to balmybaldwin:

> Yes. that bit is particularly bonkers, but we also vote for a candidate, not a party, and they too can vote in direct contradiction to their electorate's declared positions (and often their own)

> This is why we have a Prime Minister that some say "wasn't elected"

It's nothing like that though is it? The electoral college, if it chose to exercise its perogative, is a direct affront to the democratic process.

Big Ger - on 00:13 Sat
In reply to KevinD:

> Has that ever happened in the recent past?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faithless_elector#2000_to_present
Roadrunner5 - on 02:33 Sat
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

Its interesting. Its hard to know what is best. Should NYC or california matter more than the others. Should areas have a say? No way is perfect and this has merits but sadly it means the US election is essentially decided by a small proportion of the US.

The national polls showing 50-50 arent that informative. There was a good 538 article today on this and the white voters. Romney lost 4 million voters in 3012 but lost by 5 million. But he needs those 4 million to be in NC, FA OH.. those areas. At the moment it looks like white voters wont be enough to carry the college.
Roadrunner5 - on 02:36 Sat
In reply to Big Ger:

Its not though, There are arguments either way. TBH if it was just popular vote the democrats win. Since 1992 only once have they lost the popular vote because they have NYC and CA. Is that right that one state and one city decide it? No method is perfect.
Big Ger - on 03:01 Sat
In reply to Roadrunner5:

Sorry, you've lost me there. Which of my posts were you replying too?
Roadrunner5 - on 03:19 Sat
In reply to Big Ger:
Click in reply to... Come on?
Post edited at 03:21
Roadrunner5 - on 03:21 Sat
In reply to Big Ger:

Go on then Argue one way is better than the other. Argue compulsory voting is better. These are very subjective issues and there is no right answer (for me). Ideally i'd like comp voting but I think it unworkable and dangerous. The engaged voter is more reliable.
Big Ger - on 03:41 Sat
In reply to Roadrunner5:
I'll happily admit that I didn't know "in reply to" took you to the post replied to. Learn something new every day.
Post edited at 03:42
Big Ger - on 03:53 Sat
In reply to Roadrunner5:

While I would never argue for compulsory voting,* I cannot see how a system where there is an inbuilt, (chance of,) a democratic mandate being ignored or rejected by a "more equal than others" person (the electoral college,) can be anything but a democratic affront.

I'm not a great fan of FPTP either, and would prefer the nuance we have in Aus of rating candidates from "you're the one for me fatty" to "sod off and die scum boy."

This is the sort of ballot paper I will be faced with in October for our local elections;
http://www.elections.act.gov.au/__data/assets/image/0011/835661/Ginninderra_Sample.png



* I believe you should have the right to not bother, with the proviso, of course, that if you do not vote then you have no right to whine at the politics/politicians you get.
Roadrunner5 - on 01:07 Sun
In reply to Big Ger:
I didnt actually know why so heres something:

http://www.factcheck.org/2008/02/the-reason-for-the-electoral-college/

"As Alexander Hamilton writes in "The Federalist Papers," the Constitution is designed to ensure "that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.""

So as I understand it the electoral college is a backup, it sounds similar to the Queen in the UK having political powers. However here they are sometimes used but have never changed an election.

"The reason that the Constitution calls for this extra layer, rather than just providing for the direct election of the president, is that most of the nationís founders were actually rather afraid of democracy."

interesting..


Big Ger - on 01:43 Sun
In reply to Roadrunner5:

Agreed.

Mad, but interesting.

Though unlike the Queen's "powers" this layer lies between the electorate and the office holder.
Roadrunner5 - on 03:18 Sun
In reply to Big Ger:
This is also why we need to amend the constitution.. "any man"

The constitution, much to many americans amazement is a living document and was written as such... ie. to be amended.

I was arguing with a guy on FB, who called me on that, and all Americans on the thread laughed at him when he said it wasn't meant to be changed... "Ermm.. kind of is, its a living document"..

I do think sometimes (not always) immigrants ask more questions and get to know more about the political system than people who grow up with it and never question it. If it wasnt for amending the constitution women would not have the vote. TBH its probably similar in the UK, most of us wouldnt pass the life in the UK test...

I think the electoral college can be improved but I'm not sure a purely popular vote system. In Aus wouldnt that give Sydney all control? Is Australia purely popular vote? I dont know, genuine question...
Post edited at 03:29
Big Ger - on 03:36 Sun
In reply to Roadrunner5:

Not really, we are a federation of states in the same way that the US is.

Here in the capital we suffer from the concept that we rule the country, but we get by.
KevinD - on 20:20 Sun
In reply to Big Ger:


interesting. I had missed that in my quick drunken google. Looks like none have really counted and many states have laws against it. I dont think it is that significant in terms of democracy since I would guess if anyone tried to play that card it would end in tears. So ugly and outdated but minimal democractic risk.
That said it might be a bit more interesting with the severe divides in the Republicans and how much some of them loath Trump (makes Labour look positive hugs and kisses).
KevinD - on 20:25 Sun
In reply to Big Ger:

> Though unlike the Queen's "powers" this layer lies between the electorate and the office holder.

In theory the Queen still has a lot of power. Most of what the PM has is taken through the Royal Perogative and, in extreme theory, she could take action herself eg suspend parliament and declare war on someone.
ads.ukclimbing.com
bouldery bits - on 22:15 Sun
In reply to Big Ger:


> * I believe you should have the right to not bother, with the proviso, of course, that if you do not vote then you have no right to whine at the politics/politicians you get.

Hang on, if none of the candidate represent me then I won't vote (as I dont want to encourage any of the unscrupulous twits available) but I can still complain about the system that allows only middle class, priveliged, corporate puppets to be a realistic option.

Harrumph.



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