The Sixty-Six Ten

Fact and Fairness Commentary on the 2010 Elections

2010 Census Impacts Electoral College

with 3 comments

The Electoral College system was amended by the 12th amendment in 1804. As written in Article II of the Constitution, each state gets one elector for each of its two U.S. Senators in addition to a number of electors equal to its number of members in the U.S. House of Representatives. The electors are chosen by the political party committees in each state. Electoral College representation is based on congressional representation, so states with larger populations get more Electoral College votes. The presidential candidate must win a majority of electoral votes to be elected. If a candidate does not win the majority vote, per the 12th amendment, the election is decided by the House of Representatives.

Charles Lane of  The Washington Post claims that the recent mid-term election results in addition to the likely impact of  the 2010 Census is a major defeat for Democrats. The purpose of the census is to apportion congressional delegations among the states. The 2010 estimates by Election Data Services show that the majority of House of Representative seats will be shifted to the Republicans. Therefore, it is unlikely that Democrats will get the 270 Electoral College votes that would put Barack Obama back in office.  The Census projects that in 2012 Republicans will acquire an additional seven electoral votes, compared to the Democrats loss of seven votes.  

Supporters of the Electoral College claim that it maintains the federal system of representation in government. Our federal system was structured so that certain political powers are given to different levels of government. Congress, the House of Representatives, and even the Supreme Court all have separate powers that contribute to the overall function of the United States, which in turn preserves Democracy. But at the same time, a major component of Democracy is supposed to be equality and fairness. More times than not, the gritty nature of politics overshadow evenhandedness. As suggested in a New York Times article, the changes in the 2010 census will give Republicans the opportunity to redraw Congressional and state legislative district lines to their advantage.

The Electoral College system is flawed. For one thing, the system fails to truthfully reflect the national popular will of the people. The candidate who wins the most popular votes in the state wins all of the electoral votes of that state. This makes it very difficult for a third party or independent candidate to ever be represented well in the Electoral College. Even if a third party or independent candidate were to win one-fourth of the national vote, he would still end up with no representation in the Electoral College if there was not a plurality of votes in at least one state. Therefore, what the nation actually wants would not be represented. The Electoral College also reduces voter turnout. There is no incentive for states to promote voter participation because each state gets the same number of electoral votes despite voter turnout. This enables a small number of citizens to decide the electoral vote for the entire state. As Americans, we are now left questioning our representation in the election process.


Written by dara5756

November 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. I definitely agree that the Electoral College is a flawed system that does not effectively determine the outcomes of a presidential election. The whole reason we have competitive elections and a democratic government is so that the people can have their voices heard and be represented by the candidate that appeals to the majority of the American population. It definitely deters people from voting if the president with the lower number of popular votes wins due to receiving the majority of votes from the Electoral College. It would seem like the people’s votes didn’t even count in the long run, so what’s the point in even voting? If the voter turnout decreases, eventually there will only be a small, elitist group voting for the president which could turn into mob rule, putting the future of democracy in America in jeopardy.


    November 14, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    • Although I agree with your comment, we must always remember that for all the talk of Democracy, we actually live in a Republic. That is, we elect officials to cast votes on our behalf. We do not each have the power of a vote in our government as would be the way in a true Democracy. Unfortunately, this would not be possible with a population of 300million and counting. The Electoral College was instituted to be a representation of both popular vote within the state(people choose their candidate decided by a simple majority) and then state-based without(the electors cast all their votes based on that simple majority). Even if it is a flawed system, a straight popular vote would most likely give too much sway to minority groups. With nothing but the popular vote to go on, we could have a countless number of candidates running for office. If 10 candidates run, its quite possible for one to win only 15% of the vote and be the president. This would be far from representative.


      December 15, 2010 at 2:54 am

  2. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    Now 2/3rds of the states and voters are ignored — 19 of the 22 smallest and medium-small states, and big states like California, Georgia, New York, and Texas. The current winner-take-all laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states, and not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution, ensure that the candidates do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Voter turnout in the “battleground” states has been 67%, while turnout in the “spectator” states was 61%. Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president.

    The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado– 68%, Iowa –75%, Michigan– 73%, Missouri– 70%, New Hampshire– 69%, Nevada– 72%, New Mexico– 76%, North Carolina– 74%, Ohio– 70%, Pennsylvania — 78%, Virginia — 74%, and Wisconsin — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska — 70%, DC — 76%, Delaware –75%, Maine — 77%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Rhode Island — 74%, and Vermont — 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas –80%, Kentucky — 80%, Mississippi –77%, Missouri — 70%, North Carolina — 74%, and Virginia — 74%; and in other states polled: California — 70%, Connecticut — 74% , Massachusetts — 73%, Minnesota — 75%, New York — 79%, Washington — 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), The District of Columbia (3), Maine (4), Michigan (17), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), New York (31), North Carolina (15), and Oregon (7), and both houses in California (55), Colorado (9), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), New Jersey (15), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (11). The bill has been enacted by the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington. These seven states possess 76 electoral votes — 28% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.



    November 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm

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