Should the Electoral College Be Abolished

AI Gore was the winner of the 2000 presidential election by a popular vote of about 540,000. He conceded the election to George W. Bush. Reports like this left people scratching their heads. As Senator Robert Torrlcelll of New Jersey remarked at the time, "Americans are about to engage in a great civics lesson." The subject was the Electoral College—the 538 delegates who elect the president and vice president based on each states popular vote. Most states, except Maine and Nebraska, operate on the winner-take-all rule. The candidate who finishes first, even narrowly, gets all of the state's electoral votes. The Electoral College had decided elections before— three times In the ISOOs. However, this was the first time it had happened in more than 100 years.

A vote cast for an elector

Until our recent national crash course in the federal election process, most Americans saw the Electoral College as a harmless anachronism [a person or thing out of place in time]. But 10 days ago, for the first time in over a century, the nation watched as the oath of office was administered to an elected president who failed to secure a plurality of the votes cast. . .. [WJe must also ask—as many of my constituents have—whether an electoral system that negates the votes of half a million citizens is compatible with democratic values. ... If the Electoral College merely echoes the election results, then it is superfluous [not necessary J. If it contradicts the voting majority, then why tolerate it?

—Representative William D. Dciahunt from Massachusetts r

I believe that the current Electoral College system offers many advantages over a popular vote. In our republic, a citizen who resides in a state with low population deserves Just as much representation as a citizen in a city. Though at first glance it may seem that a popular vote would grant an equal voice to each, in fact it would eliminate it. Population centers would grab nearly all the consideration, as the number of popular votes in the farmlands of the country is measly compared to someplace like Boston. Why would a candidate bother with states with low populations? ... The Electoral College ensures that candidates campaign to the entire country and safeguards the importance of each state's voice, be it large or small.

—Meredith Miller Hoar, Bowdoin College

Debating the Issue

1. Why does Hoar support the Electoral College?

2. Why does Delahunt oppose the system?

3. Any change in the Electoral College system would require a constitutional amendment.

Should the Electoral College be kept, abolished, or reformed in some way? Phrase your views in a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.


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