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our electoral system: fair or not
Posted: 16 November 2012 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Electing the US president; how to

To simplify the matter, assume there are only 7 states

State A counts as 5 votes (based on population of that state)    Majority voted for X
State B counts as 4 votes ( based on ...).      Majority in that state voted for Y
State C counts as 9 votes (based on ... ).      Majority in that state voted for X
State D counts as 6 votes (based on ...).      Majority in that state voted for Y
State E counts as 14 votes (based on ...)      Majority in that state voted for X
State F counts as 6 votes ( based on ...)      Majority in that state voted for Y
State G counts as 21 votes (based on ... )      Majority in that state voted for Y

To summarize:

X received 5+9+14=28 votes and Y received 4+6+6+21=37 votes. Y is the winner.

* * *
I do not know why this system is called “Electoral College.” In fact, the word “college” confused me for a long time. What does it have to do with colleges in which we study?

Suppose the president is elected by the sytem called “popular vote,” used in some other countries.

In that case votes of individual citizens are counted, as illustrated below (this is also a simplification).

State A ==> 22 million voted for X       and 3 million voted for Y.
State B ==> 4 million voted for X       and 5 million voted for Y.
State C ==> 9 million voted for X       and 13 million voted for Y.
State D ==> 12 million voted for X       and 3 million voted for Y.
State E ==> 8 million voted for X       and 23 million voted for Y.
State F ==> 2 million voted for X       and 3 million voted for Y.
State G ==> 11 million voted for X       and 8 million voted for Y.

To summarize:

X ==> 22+4+9+12+8+2+11=68 million
Y ==> 3+5+13+3+23+3+8 =58 million

In this case X is the winner. Is this fair or not? See:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/03/opinion/electoral-college-101.html?ref=opinion

http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html


Ludwik Kowalski,
http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

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Posted: 16 November 2012 07:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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This system was set up at the inception of the country because the smaller states wouldn’t join if they felt they would have less say that the larger ones.  However, it is grossly unfair to citizens in more populous states.  A Wyoming vote has about three times the power that a California vote does.  Unfortunately, since it would require a Constitutional amendment to change it, the smaller states would never vote for it since it would take power away from them.

There IS a system being proposed to counteract this inequity.  Rather than sending electors in the ratio of votes, the larger states could change their laws so that all their electors vote according to the popular majority in the state.  When enough of them do that, the total of their electors will overpower the unfair votes of the smaller states.  [I may have that backward.  I’ll check.]

Occam

[ Edited: 16 November 2012 08:27 PM by Occam. ]
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Posted: 16 November 2012 07:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Well, here’s an article on why we should keep the Electoral College.  You know, because.  I guess.

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Posted: 16 November 2012 07:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Another facet of unfairness is gerrymandering.  If you check, you’ll see that the House of Congress has a significant majority of Republican representatives, however the Democrats received a higher number of national popular votes.  In most states some district boundaries have been set so that they have, say, 90% voters of one party, while four or five adjacent districts have boundaries which cause them to have, say, 55% of the other party.  That means one party gets one representative while the other gets four or five.  To do the math with five districts, assume each district has 100,000 voters.  That’s 500,000 total.  Four districts have 55,000 of one party for a total of 220,000, and 180,000 of the other party.  The fifth district has 90,000 of the second party and 10,000 of the first.  So the total number of voters for the first party is 230,000.  The second party has 180,000 plus 90,000 or 270,000.  However, the first party elects four representative while the second only one, even though they have a significant majority of voters in that group of districts.

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Posted: 16 November 2012 07:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Occam. - 16 November 2012 07:34 PM

Another facet of unfairness is gerrymandering.  If you check, you’ll see that the House of Congress has a significant majority of Republican representatives, however the Democrats received a higher number of national popular votes.  In most states some district boundaries have been set so that they have, say, 90% voters of one party, while four or five adjacent districts have boundaries which cause them to have, say, 55% of the other party.  That means one party gets one representative while the other gets four or five.  To do the math with five districts, assume each district has 100,000 voters.  That’s 500,000 total.  Four districts have 55,000 of one party for a total of 220,000, and 180,000 of the other party.  The fifth district has 90,000 of the second party and 10,000 of the first.  So the total number of voters for the first party is 230,000.  The second party has 180,000 plus 90,000 or 270,000.  However, the first party elects four representative while the second only one, even though they have a significant majority of voters in that group of districts.

This sort of thing should be illegal. Boundaries should be set by an objective or random criterion.

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Posted: 16 November 2012 08:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I agree, however, the party in power in each state almost always has the major say, so they manipulate the boundaries.  In California they tried a remedy, to have a bipartisan committee do it, but they screwed it up quite badly (although more randomly).  A simple system that set boundaries by a computer program that generated districts with approximately the same number of voters, with the shortest perimeter (with a few other provisos) would be far more fair.

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Posted: 16 November 2012 08:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The Electoral Collage is the worst of all possible systems…except for all the others!

(I don’t like much of anything about it, but I think it behooves us to be careful what we ask for when proposing an alternative. We might get it and end up not liking it.)

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Posted: 16 November 2012 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I prefer a system where all adult citizens have an equal voice and an equal ability to vote.  While I can envision problems with voters doing so as ethnic, racial, etc. blocks rather than as citizens motivated for the good of the country, the Electoral College has similar, just as bad, problems.

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Posted: 17 November 2012 06:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Occam. - 16 November 2012 08:23 PM

A simple system that set boundaries by a computer program that generated districts with approximately the same number of voters, with the shortest perimeter (with a few other provisos) would be far more fair.

Yep. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with the electoral system per se, but gerrymandering IS wrong, since it implicitly disenfranchises certain voters over others.

One good thing about the electoral system: in a close election it focuses attention on a small area, like a single state (e.g., Florida). If we had elections by simple popular vote, could you imagine the chaos if it were similarly close? Ballots would have to be recounted in ALL 50 states at the same time!

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Posted: 17 November 2012 07:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Gerrymandering is illegal in Texas, but happens anyway. Some of our electoral districts are ridiculous. Tom Delay had a big hand it that, and it isn’t likely to change as long as the Republicans keep getting reelected.

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Posted: 17 November 2012 11:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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It’s strange how people effect amnesia when it comes to politics. Few remember the “hammer” for his money laundering scheme by sending $ 190,000 to the RNC to be sent back to reps. In Texas districts to beef up their control of the Texas House. He’s the king if the gerrymander and if Texas has outlawed it then more power to them as it’s alive and well here in Ohio and the issue meant to outlaw it was incredibly turned down. People were confused by the way it was written and the reps. Fought it hard. Here’s the scoop on ole’ Tommy boy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/10/AR2011011000557.html


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Posted: 17 November 2012 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Re: Doug #8 -  A compromise solution for your objection would be to keep the Electoral College, but eliminate the two seats representing the senators.
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I got a kick out of one DeLay district for caging Latinos, that was almost 200 miles long and only two blocks wide in some areas.
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Quoting Dead Monky:

Well, here’s an article on why we should keep the Electoral College.

Posner is a conservative jerk who has the habit of writing articles with make-believe, weak logic. His “reasons” for the Electoral College; my responses after the dash:

1. Less likely to have unclear outcomes. – There would be even less dispute if we just tossed a coin.  As the counts become more automated there will be less delay and uncertainty.  The larger states are likely to switch to proportional electoral votes, moving us away from unfair small state power. 

2. Avoids electing candidates with only single regional appeal. – As electors become allotted according to popular vote, candidates will need to campaign in more states to pick up votes.  The election should go to the candidate who offers the most for the country as a whole, not for a number of regions.

3. Voters in toss-up states are more likely to pay close attention to the campaign, knowing that they are going to decide the election.  They are likely to be the most thoughtful voters, on average and the most thoughtful voters should be the ones to decide the election. – Voters from all areas of the country should have an equal voice in a national election.  Using his reasoning, we should give prospective voters an IQ test and accept votes from only, say, the ten percent most intelligent ones.

4. The Electoral College restores some of the weight in the political balance of large states (by population) since they get more attention from presidential candidates in a campaign than small states do.  Presidents and senators are often presidential candidates so large states are likely to get additional consideration in appropriations and appointments from presidents and senators before as well as during campaigns. – With our increasingly efficient mass communication, personal visits to any area are becoming less important.  Appointments and appropriations should be done based on qualifications and needs, not as bribes to garner votes.

5. The Electoral College avoids the problem of elections in which no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast which would force a run-off. – It inhibits new and different views from being heard.  A simple solution to the run-off problem is to allow preferential votes where each voter would state his/her first, second and third choice for president. 

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Posted: 18 November 2012 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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It was very unfair in the US elections of the year 2000.

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Posted: 18 November 2012 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Unfortunately when a situation favors a minority but changing it requires a super-majority (3/4 of the states), it’s not going to be changed until the minority develops enough ethics to recognize that the good of the group is preferable to sell-interest and act on it.

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Posted: 18 November 2012 06:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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It was very unfair in the US elections of the year 2000.

I don’t see how you get that. The results which came out were fully in complaince with the law and the system worked exactly as it was intended to. That the guy who got elected was somebody a lot of us here didn’t support (Or wouldn’t have supported if we knew what he was really all about) doesn’t take away from that.

I’ve noticed that most of the complaints about the Electoral Collage come the fastest and the loudest from whatever side lost the election. The side which wins seems to think it’s a model of statesmenship and the “wisdom” of the Founding Fathers…or at least they do until it’s their turn to lose the election.

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Posted: 18 November 2012 07:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Gerrymandering may be illegal in Texas, but so is driving in excess of the speed limit, and so is marijuana use.  All are relatively common occurrences.

As far as the electoral college in Presidential elections, for better or for worse, we are going to have it for the foreseeable future.

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