Re: NYTimes.com Article: Abolish the Electoral College

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Sun Aug 29 2004 - 19:10:43 CDT

Joseph Lorenzo Hall <joehall@gmail.com> wrote:
|I've never understood the basis for the electoral college... I see
|what you're saying Alan with states rights, but the fact that a
|president can be elected despite the loss of the popular vote (by a
|remarkable margin) and then act ignorant of the fact that they have
|nothing even close to a mandate

I really don't get what you mean, Joe. The system we have in the USA is
*NOT* election of a President by the citizens, but election of a
President by the States. That's just the constitution we have, nothing
terribly mysterious there. And I know you know this much.

For that matter, until the 17th Amendment was passed in 1913, Senators
were similarly elected by the States (i.e. the respective legislatures),
rather than by the people of each state.

Now it's easy to say that our system isn't really the best one to have.
Maybe those of other modern democracies are better designs. In the USA,
a "mandate"--at least in the sense of getting the office--just means
that more delegates are assigned to the Electoral College by states for
you than for the other guy. Sure, politicians like to spin it as "the
people support me"... but that ain't the legal system we have.

Yours, David...

P.S. The kind of semi-majority election that the electoral college
enacts is really not very unusual, in fact. For example, I'll probably
be the OVC representative to an IEEE project (P-1622) about Voting Data
Standards. Each organization gets exactly one vote on the committee...
even if some organizations have more members/employees/shareholders/
whatever than another; even if one has a greater market cap than the
other; even if one better represents the community of interested persons
than another; or whatever seems like "direct democracy" to you. AFAIK,
most standards bodies work roughly like this.

P.P.S. Prez of USA is no doubt more important than any IEEE standard;
but the point is just that indirect representation is commonplace, not a
peculiarity of the electoral college.
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Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:19 2004

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