Arguments against abolishing or replacing US electoral college with a national direct popular vote election of the president
Reasons to support US Electoral College
1. The system offers cohesiveness through use of popular support before a candidate is voted in as the president.
2. The system caters to the distribution of popularity of the candidate in all areas of the country to avoid imbalances.
3. Closely related to the above point, the system improves the interests of the minority in a diversified country to avoid alienation.
4. The system is less open to pensioned tendencies which can result in popularist views.
5. The system is hailed because of the stability it maintains in many instances even when it is used in non political cases.
6. The electoral system blends in with the federal government system.
7. The same philosophy that applies to the electoral system at the presidency voting has been successful in other areas and has led to more cohesion.
8. The electoral system has benefits which do not threaten the democracy and yet they protect the majority and minority interests.
The presidential elections are always of great interest to the country. This is because the presidency determines how the country is governed and how the interests of the citizens are met1. It is for this reason that there have been arguments about the best way of ensuring good presidents. Of equal concern is the kind of systems that are used to elect the president. A system which does not seem fair would not be acceptable to many voters. As a result, there is always a debate about the better system.
In the United States, the debate rests on two systems with opposed ideas. These systems are the Electoral College and the popular vote election. The electoral system has been used in America. However there are those who feel that it should be replaced with the popular vote system where Americans will directly vote for their president. I do not think that the electoral system should be replaced as it offers unique positive attributes.
To begin with, the system offers cohesiveness through use of popular support before a candidate is voted in as the president. Consequently, a president who is unpopular will not be elected2. Even if a minority president is elected it would only be the one who has attained a good level of popularity. This is an essential part of the voting process especially for a position as important as the president. The benefit of the electoral vote is that it gives opportunity to any candidate who is popular therefore equalizing the playing field of politics.
The system also caters to the distribution of the popularity. The elected candidate has to have popularity in all the areas of the country giving a fair view of how the popularity is distributed3. If a candidate is very unpopular with groups of the citizenry, he/she would not easily secure presidency. With the popular vote system, candidates who merely get more votes would win regardless of the distribution of the votes thus creating opportunities for imbalances.
Closely related to this point is the fact that the electoral system improves the interests of the minority4. This is important in a country like America where there is a lot of diversity. With so many groups it is important to cater to their needs in order to avoid these groups feeling alienated. Because the candidates have to have some level of popularity from all groups, it ensures that they do not get into presidency while they are pitted against the minority groups5. The minority vote is actually crucial in some of the states where the minority have stronghold through their delegates.
The candidates therefore find that they can not dismiss the interests of the minority. The electoral system has been used in other countries as well. These include Madagascar, Ireland, India, Burundi and Kazakhstan. The electoral system unlike the popular vote is less open to pensioned tendencies which can result in popularist views.
The electoral system has been hailed because of the stability is maintains in many instances even when it is used in non political cases6.
The same can be said in the United States. The system employs the use of fewer political parties in the US case two major parties.
This avoids the problems that multiple political parties pose like political instability and civil unrest. This has been noted in countries with countries with popular vote7. The popular vote system encourages multiple parties because in many instances the parties would like to file their own candidates. The parties can easily become aligned along the interests of the groups. In case of political frustrations there is higher likelihood of the citizens behind these parties feeling that theirs is a major loss and instability can occur. There are many democracies which have demonstrated this.
The electoral system also blends in with the federal government system. Because the electoral system can be applied to other levels of governance, it is employed in different spheres. The federal government as it is laid out in the senate and House of Representatives uses the same philosophy. Changing one system will significantly affect the others in their orientation. For this reason, it would be best to use the electoral system which can complement the other governance segments of the country.
The same philosophy that applies to the electoral system at the presidency voting has been successful in the other areas8. Unlike the popular vote, using the system will lead to more cohesion as well. If the electoral system is changed to the popular vote the other areas may by extension have to be changes in time.
The electoral system has benefits which do not threaten the democracy and yet they protect the majority and minority interests. In addition a lot of the political stability the US enjoys can be attributed to the system at many levels. The candidates always have a chance to convince the citizen's of their stand and the people can make informed choices about the best candidate. The electoral system has proved its benefits and as such should not replace with the popular vote system.
Bibliography with descriptions
1. Horowitz, D. L. “Electoral Systems: A primer for decision makers.” Journal of Democracy 14, No. 4 (2003): 115-127.
The electoral systems follow the goals of the decision makers and may not always represent the choices of the populace. As a result it is important for the systems to pay close attention to their objectives in relation to goals and how the various systems affect those goals. The article examines six systems to elucidate this point.
2. Faure, M. “The Electoral System.” Journal of Theoretical politics 8, no 2 (1996): 193-208.
The article looks at the electoral practice in South Africa from three parts. The first part sets the background to the system in current use while the second part digs deeper into the features of that system. The third part gives ideas of ways in which the system can be improved. The author aim to show that different systems can work in different situations.
3. International IDEA. Electoral System design: The new international IDEA Handbook. Stockholm, Sweden: International IDEA , 2005.
This book by International IDEA gives an international approach to the study of electoral systems. It highlights the different effects that the chosen system has on the country where it is used. The book demonstrates that the systems chosen have a huge bearing beyond the political implications that many people are aware of.
4. Kimberling, W. C. The Electoral College. http://www.fec.gov/pdf/eleccoll.pdf
The article outlines the history of the Electoral College in the US. According to the author it is necessary to do this in order to understand the system in its context, history and purpose. The article gives key information of how the system works and instance in the past when curious situations arose necessitating amendments.
5. Lijphart, Arend. Electoral systems and party systems: A study of twenty-seven democracies, 1945-90. New York, NY: Oxford University press Inc, 1994.
The book examines different electoral systems and how they have been used in different countries over time. The author gives reasons as to why the systems were chosen and how they were implemented with varying degrees of results according to the areas in which they were used.
6. Rule, W. and Joseph, F. Z. (Eds.) United States electoral systems: Their impact on women and minority. New York, NY: Praeger Paperback, 1992.
The books looks at how women and minority fare in different systems particularly in the US system. The author explores some of the benefits and the problems that the women and minority experience. The author also explains why the current system is largely beneficial to women and the minority and ways in which these two groups can enhance their 'power'.
Horowitz, Donald L. “Electoral Systems: A primer for decision makers.” Journal of
Democracy 14, No. 4 (2003): 115-127
Faure, Murray. “The Electoral System.” Journal of Theoretical politics 8, no 2 (1996):
International IDEA. Electoral System design: The new international IDEA Handbook.
Stockholm, Sweden: International IDEA , 2005.
Lijphart, Arend. Electoral systems and party systems: A study of twenty-seven
democracies, 1945-90. New York, NY: Oxford University press Inc, 1994.
Rule, Wilma and Joseph, F. Zimmerman. (Eds.) United States electoral systems:
Their impact on women and minority. New York, NY: Praeger Paperback, 1992.
Kimberling, William C. The Electoral College. http://www.fec.gov/pdf/eleccoll.pdf