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Electoral college essay

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Evaluate the view that despite criticisms, the Electoral College is by far the best method of electing the US President. The Electoral College is an electoral device which ensures that the election of the President is, as the founding fathers wanted, is indirectly elected. There are 538 votes, 270 of which are need for a majority. Whether this is the best method of electing the president is in question as an alternative to the Electoral College, the National Popular Vote bill, has been passed in 11 jurisdictions which represent 165 electoral college votes. However, the Electoral College as a way of electing the President preserves the voice of small states and has been successful since its introduction. This success supports the view that the Electoral College us by far the best method of electing the president. Two thirds of the elections since 1864 has seen the winner of the Electoral College receive more than 50% of the popular vote. This suggests that the Electoral college is functional and does not need reforming. This means that the President has a reasonable mandate and presents a clear winner in the election. While a first past the post system like this could lead to coalitions, as seen in the UK, usually it results in a clear winner. This 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' argument supports the idea that the functional Electoral College system is by far the best method in electing the US president. However, while there are some arguments in favour of the Electoral College, there are arguably more criticisms. For example, the method can lead to distortions of the popular vote, for example in 2012, Obama won 50% of the popular but a huge 62% of the Electoral College vote, thus his mandate is inappropriately inflated. This makes a candidate appear much more popular than they really are. In addition to this, a candidate who does not win the popular vote can still win with the Electoral College vote which was exemplified in the 2000 'disputed' presidency of Bush versus Al Gore. This can be seen in the UK also with the same first past the system which allowed the Conservatives to win 50% of the seats in the House of Commons while only winning 34% of the vote, this example of distortion which the system creates suggests that Presidents can act without a proper mandate. On top of this the first past the post system puts third parties at a disadvantage, meaning that the elite two party system is maintained. In 1992, for example, Ross Perot won 18% of the popular cote but not a single Electoral College vote because of his widespread, un-concentrated support, a theme again mirrored in the UK where UKIP won 13% of the vote in 2015 but only 1 seat. This supports the argument that the Electoral College is not the best method of electing the US President. This argument also raises the question of the effect of 'faithless' electors, who do not vote according to the preference of the citizens whom they represent. However, while this has occurred, as did in 2000 where an elector in DC refused to cast her vote for Gore, it rarely happens and has never effected the outcome of an election. However, the Electoral College can be considered as the best way of electing the US President as it preserves the voice of the smaller states which stops the pooling of power and fights the 'tyranny of the majority'. The Electoral College means that each state is represented and not marginalised in favour of their larger neighbours. They maintain their right to elect the president and due to the system, their role is prominent. This supports the idea that the Electoral College is the best way of electing the president as it guards the smaller states from being marginalised. However, it can be argued that the Electoral College causes an over representation smaller states. It could be said that larger states, with larger populations and greater economic output should be more prevalent in the Electoral College, suggesting that an alternative to the Electoral College would be a better method of electing the president.

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