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Marcus Streeter Prof Kate Flom WRD 104 May 22, 2013

Persuasive Essay Freedom, liberty and justice for all; words such as these are uttered by almost every American at some point during their lifetime, even while reciting the pledge of allegiance. Words Americans hold in high esteem, and some would consider necessary to uphold a democratic republic, as well as principles that separate monarchies from republics. Freedom, liberty and justice embody the very essence that help the founding fathers of the United States of America draft the Constitution that assisted in forging our nation. Most foreign nations would depict America as a democratic republic; but a democratic republic is defined as, the replacement of unilateral privately inherited government with a public system of mutual respect for autonomous will to directly appoint officers of state. America violates the statutes of what a democratic republic would be defined as well the principles of freedom, liberty and justice every four years when holding elections for the Commander-In-Chief. Specifically, I am

referring to the system of electors used by the U.S to select the President and Vice President called the Electoral College. The United States Electoral College is a system containing a number of electors who officially vote for the President and Vice President of the United States. These electors, are appropriated to each state as well as Washington D.C according to the number of members they have

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representing them in Congress. If the Electoral College should fail to award the position on an absolute majority vote, the House of Representatives shall be the tie breaking vote. Since its inception around 1787, the Electoral College elector system has been greatly criticized for its structure; which has led many Americans to question its relativity and effectiveness in the process of selecting the President. In particular, the 2000 Presidential Elections, which bore witness to Former President George W. Bush receiving 47.9% of the popular vote, while his opponent Al Gore received 48.4% and still won the electoral majority. Raising many more questions amongst the American population as well as our countrys legislative body in regards to the legitimacy of the presidential voting system, eventually leading to one of many historical calls for reform in 2001. During the course of this essay, it will be explored why anyone would be interested in reforming a system that has withstood the test of time for over two hundred and twenty years. This writing will give evidence to the undemocratic nature imposed by the Electoral College and the two party system; secondly it will show how the Electoral College discourages voting and threatens the legitimacy of government. Thirdly how it violates your constitutional rights and lastly the method of reform that should be explored to amend the Electoral College.

To argue that the United States of America isnt a democracy simply based on the Electoral College and the two major party system wouldnt get you far in political circles. However, to understand the claim presented by saying the Electoral College in itself isnt democratic in nature could be examined. First lets start by attempting to define Democracy. Democracys

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origin stems from the ancient Greek civilizations, Demos meaning people and; Kratos meaning power of. The essence of democracy is to replace the unilateral respect of authority with the mutual respect of autonomous will, making self -efficacy and engaged citizenry essential to a democracy, which the Electoral College decimates along with many other, factors as well (Lanning, 432). So an ideal form of government that is the power of the people, it would require the people to participate equally in its development, creation of laws, economic principles and its representative leaders. The President and Vice President are both considered to be representative leaders of the United States, yet they are officially selected by electors of the Electoral College from either one of two major political parties. With the exception of three, the president of the United States has either been a former Governor or member of Congress. Since we dont directly vote for our President then by definition it would make the United States of America an oligarchy or aristocracy, a system of government in which power rest in the hands of a small elitist group selected amongst themselves. The establishment of the Electoral College was bias and elitist in its original construction, but not entirely intended by all sides. The original plan was to let congress decide who the President would be, many of the writers of the constitution felt that would be undemocratic. It was later propositioned in the three fifths Connecticut Compromise, that votes should be appropriated by electors because the people would only vote for local candidates known to them. Governor Morris was quoted stating the reason for change being there may be intrigue in extreme or special covin groups to ascend to the presidency. Other founding fathers including James Madison, supported popular vote but realized consensus would be impossible due to the relevance of slavery in the south, as well as the suffrage movement in the north

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(Clayton, 34). Governor Morriss main fear of extremism was that a situation would arise as one did in the 1968 Presidential race, a racist southern regional candidate named George A. Wallace ran on the ideal of destabilizing the parties by openly supporting segregation (Althouse, 98). An effective counterargument that would argue in favor of those undemocratic elements of the Electoral College would state it provides stability. That if a direct popular election would arise it would further divide the country from red states versus blue states, too red states versus blue versus green versus orange states and so on . It could also bring about an ochlocracy, which would give either the elected leader or the people too much power; which would allow the population to intimidate legitimate authority, creating tyranny of the majority (Wheeler, 177). Or even bring about extremist support to the forefront as Governor Morris had feared, supporters of the Electoral College that favor restricting elements of democracy because it would create these extreme events have evidence to support such. More recent examples would also be the highly controversial efforts in the legalization of marijuana or the Affordable Care Act. A refutation to those well pointed out examples would be that sometimes extremism is a healthy thing for democracy. Major historical events that have broken the boundaries of tolerance such as the Suffrage Movement, The Emancipation Proclamation, Civil Rights and Gay Rights were all seen at one point as extremist ideas. Although the Electoral College and two party system attribute balance to the United States, it over estimates consensus of ideals and beliefs as well as discourages rapid, radical and sometimes necessary change (Ruthchick, 277). The reformation of the Electoral College would depict a more fair representation and could

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promote a more bi-partisan dialogue. Even though there are many other factors that go into it, with a reform there may even be an increase in percentage of eligible voter turnout while increasing the legitimacy of a true democratic republic.

There have been countless studies about what causes eligible voters to be discouraged from participating in their constitutional right to vote. Dr. Kevin Lanning, a sociologist and professor at Florida Atlantic University, briefed a study that shows less than sixty percent of eligible voters actually participate in the presidential elections. Rather than diverge upon the vast possibilities that could be assessed, lets stick to the theme of the paper and examine the effects the Electoral College has on discouraged participation. Most Americans being brought up are told of the importance of voting in the national presidential election, and as we continue to age every election becomes more relevantly important. As peoples age progresses and their social or economic statuses differ, a candidate someone may support alters as well. Ranging from which candidate will cut college cost, to which candidate will cut income taxes all the way to which candidate will help protect my retirement. A persons regional and even state interest can differ as well. To give an example, what if there is a small business owner who feels the federal income tax is too high? The business owners ideals align with the political party that is contrasting to their state. As a believer in the American democratic system, they continue to vote for a presidential candidate who will do just that, and encourage many other small business owners across the nation to do the same. The business owners notices more and more

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support for their cause; the candidate they support gets 51.6 % of the popular vote yet loses the election! Logically the business owner is surprised and wonder how could a candidate amass more of the population to vote for them, yet not become president. This has occurred four times in the history of the Electoral College in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000. Events like these discourage citizens from participating in the voting process, and could lead many to question the legitimacy of government, which is essential to its functionality. If the citizenry cant trust how its government properly chooses its lead ers, they will begin to defect as in many historical examples of set in European revolutions. This is also the founding motive for republics (Lanning, 244). Maryland Senator George Edwards spoke of the Electoral College being unnecessarily complex, as to reasons why most Americans dont trust it. He was quoted saying The electoral college does not provide a straightforward process for selecting the president. Instead, it can be extraordinarily complex and has the potential to undo the people's will at many points in the long journey from the selection of electors to counting their votes in Congress (Keyssar, 14). Forty eight states and the District of Columbia use the Winner Take -All method, which is when the winner of the popular vote takes all the states electoral votes. Which could seem fair on the surface, but if you correlate that with a states population size it could show a huge disparity in equality. States the size of Connecticut which has a population of 3.5 million people and seven electoral votes, equates to 500,000 people per electoral vote, while a heavily populated state, with a major concentration of its population in urban areas like New York see a huge disparity in a disproportion of its electoral votes. New York has a population of 19.6

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million people and 29 electoral votes, which equates to 675,000 people per votes, while over a third of its population lies in one city. Numbers like these show how difficult it would be for a candidate to even swing one electoral vote, let alone an entire majority to take a state that belongs to a particular party. Research done by Andrew Gelman, Nate Silver, and Aaron Edlin in the Journal of Economic Inquiry, concluded there were only five states of producing swing votes. (Gelman,323). Supporters that maintain the Electoral College as a viable means of voting for the office of the President, have extremely creditable rebuttals against these types of statistics. Supporters would first give claim that the Electoral College helps with population fluctuations, especially after events like the Suffrage movement or Civil Rights. The Electoral College also decreases the excessive use of fraudulent voting practices. Reforming it would also counter the objective of its creation, which was to empower the less populous states in national elections. Another effective counterargument is that the direct election would cause what experts call an urban centric victory. An urban centric victory is when a candidate only relies on areas of highly dense populated areas, abandoning the votes from smaller rural areas that would be harder to reach. If states begin to see that as a pattern, it would give those states an undue incentive to try and maximize voter turnout rather than letting it be of free volition (Keyssar, 13; Althouse,102). These counterarguments could be refuted with saying there is already a huge fluctuation in eligible voter turnout due to voter suppression and disenfranchisement. Restrictive practices like identification requirements, poll taxes, literacy test and not being allowed to vote on certain days and times are just few of the ways voter suppression have been implemented. The

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federal government has no right to keep states from opposing these suppression, due in part to Section II and III of the Twenty-third Amendment of the U.S Constitution. These sections of the Constitution, give states the right to enact the allocation of votes and electors however that state deems fit. Lanning referred to it as entrenched leadership expected to de fend the rights and needs of non-participants, and that the two party system created a glacial like progressing perpetuation of a status quo of an age where some were just a few decades ago were not allowed to vote (Lanning,435-436). Since there were groups of people who were not and some who are still not allowed to vote it discourages participation, especially in young adults, non property owners and minorities. There are some present restrictions of the voting franchise, that are the product of the same regressive social forces, and institutional facts that have in the past led to setbacks. These same phenomena, continue to contravene and compromise the democratic ideal. Other nations have doubled their voter output, yet America has continued to regress even though our constitution has clauses that mandate one vote, one person.

The last claim for reformation of the Electoral Colleges is its constitutionality. One, person, one vote rings with the same distinctively American sound as of the people, by the people, for the people and All men are created equal. But it wasnt until 1963 , that this articulate core principle of the U.S. Constitution was interpreted as such. Chief Justice Earl Warren, transformed much of Americas political and social landscape, by applying the Constitutions expression of fairness and equality in the Supreme Court cases Wesberry v. Sanders, Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims. These cases were widely known in the legislative realm as the

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Apportionment Cases. A decision that was just as grueling as it was important to our nations legislative history, especially surrounding equality in voting and representation. Chief Justice Warren was quoted saying after his tenure the Courts choice to tackle the issue in the Apportionment cases, were its most vital decision (Althouse, 99). These cases were the first to bring about the argument of fair distribution of representation in reference to voting. The Warren Court cases reviewed the disproportionality of state and congressional voting districts. An example of the issues in the case would be, if the third congressional district in Illinois has 1.5 million people, and the fourth congressional district had 500,000, a fourth district voter has three times the voting power in the same state. This allowed the Government jurisdiction to redistrict in terms of equal population, to try and equal the voting power for equal representation. Historic cases like these give a real world Constitutional archetype to cases that could be brought against the malapportionment the Electoral College creates. The Constitution protects an individual voters right to maintain equal representation irrespective to geographical location as does the United States Senate (Pavia, 441). Those wishing to counter the claim of the Electoral College violating the Constitution would simply reference our 23rd Amendment, the Amendment that created the structure of the Electoral College. The Electoral College is within the original foundations of our Constitution and our nation, making it completely constitutional in its scope. Those arguing against the claims made within this paper would also state it helps maintain the separation of powers. Congress members are elected by the people, the President being chosen by the Electoral College and the judiciary selected by the President, minimizing the threat to liberty and encouraging deliberation over government acts and decisions. The Constitution, also

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instrumented the Electoral College to be able to act swiftly in the event a candidate dies, or is incapacitated during the times ballots have already been counted for. Such events occurred in 1872, where democratic candidate Horace Greeley died in the wakes of the ballots being counted; and 1912 when then Vice President Sherman died before the election at a time when it was too late for states to pull back their ballots. To censure these counterarguments, reformation of the Electoral College would maintain its separation of power but disbar elector deviation. The practice of Electoral deviation is common in Presidential elections, and is called Faithless electoral voting. It is when an elector decides not to cast their vote for the winner of the popular vote of the state, or the candidate that the elector pledged to vote for. Faithless voting has occurred seventy nine times over the course of American history, most notably in the election of 1836, twenty three electors conspired to change their vote to swing the election in favor of personal gain. They are able to perform such heinous acts because the federal government has no jurisdiction over electors, seeing as the 23rd Amendment made them functions of the state not the federal government.

Although there are several alternatives being examined to reform the Electoral College, the National Popular Vote Compact has remained the most popular amongst those options. The National Popular Vote Compact, is the agreement amongst states and Washington D.C to appoint their electoral votes to the candidate with the highest popular vote in all fifty states. I do not agree that is the best plans to show the diversity that exist in our country. It is within by educated opinion that a hybrid reformation plan would serve best, it would maintain some

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structural components of the Electoral College, while infusing a true popular vote. Every state should be award one Electoral vote, bringing the total electoral votes down from 538 to 51. The state would award its single national vote to the winner of the popular vote within that particular state. This system will make sure all states are equal in their effect on the national outcome, while maintaining the equality of individual voters. It would also counter the ability of urban centric victories, because every vote could shift the effect in each state. This would also bring third party candidates power without disrupting the stability of the country, giving others a chance to campaign to people rather than an elite group of electors or special interest. Many critics will see this as fifty one individual elections that would divide our nation, not realizing that something to this affect already exist, but in a system that doesnt value each vote equally. Each elector should be chosen by the state legislative body, their power to vote should only come in the event the winning candidate becomes incapacitated. This alternative will allow the maintenance of stability the Electoral College provides, while empowering the people to decide who represents them in all levels of the government.