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Made up of 538 electors, the Electoral College votes decide the president and vice president of the United States of America. The Electoral College membership is made up of 435 representatives, 100 senators, and 3 electors. In the United States, the electorate does not directly elect the president and the vice-president. On the contrary, the responsibility to do so is vested on the electors in the electorate college. The 538 members are appointed through a popular vote on a state-by-state basis (Kleeb par. 7). The number of electors represented in the electoral college is equal to the number of congress in each state (Kleeb par. 2).
Electors are loyal to a particular candidate for both the president and vice president’s office. In the United States, all the states elect their representatives in the Electoral College on a winner-take-all basis except for Maine Nebraska states (Kleeb par. 8). Every elector is required by law to cast one vote for the president and another for the preferred vice-president. For an individual to be considered a winner in the office of the president and vice-president, they must receive an absolute majority, which currently stands at 270 votes (Kleeb par. 8).
Disadvantages of the Electoral College
Critics argue that the Electoral College’s dependence on a popular vote is a bone of contention. This process does not allow the national wide popular candidate to be the automatic winner of the elections. It leaves a situation whereby the national wide popular candidate might not be the winner of the election. Most people feel that the winner-take-all elections are the most appropriate. The Electoral College process is biased as the swing states receive the most attention (Kozlowski 34).
Swing states are states that have a long history of a tendency to vote either Republican or Democratic candidates. Candidates pay less attention to such states if electorates have a history of consistently voting for the rival party. Also, the Electoral College process discourages voter turnout in a very significant way. The candidate with the highest popular vote in every state receives all the electoral votes in the states with clear favorites (Kozlowski 34). This discourages the electorates who feel that their vote might not make an impact in such states especially if the voter wanted to vote contrary to the state’s favorite. This system discourages the candidates from campaigning for voter turnout (Kozlowski 34). The system also gives the small states more power to influence the outcome of an election a factor that has always favored the Republican Party.
The Electoral College system makes it pointless and abortive to support a candidate who is not competitive in your state. This leads to the candidates concentrating on fewer states hence ignoring the majority of the country’s voters (Kozlowski 35). The Electoral College process can lead to a situation whereby the winner of an election is not necessarily the winner of the popular vote. The winner of the electoral votes takes precedence and may become the president even after losing on the popular vote but this situation has very serious implications on presidential powers. This weakens the presidential powers hence making governance very difficult since there are mandates that are given to the president only through the popular vote.
Advantages of the Electoral College
The above misgivings notwithstanding, the Electoral College system has positive attributes that make it acceptable. One of the very significant positive sides of the system includes the fact that it prevents victory based on urban areas (Lawler par. 10). This process does not give monopolistic powers to the highly populated areas as other systems like the winner-take-all. For a candidate to win, he or she must pay attention to even the smallest states since concentrating on heavily populated states does not guarantee a win. The system also provides the space for flexibility about voting laws in different states. States can formulate their laws and affect changes on their systems freely without affecting the national elections.
The Electoral College process also is famed for maintaining separation of powers (Lawler par. 5). Having a directly elected president through the popular vote can lead to tyranny. The devolution and separation of powers in the different branches of government were a calculated move in the constitution to provide checks and balances (Lawler par. 7). Having a directly elected president asserts that a president assumes a national popular mandate that can easily compromise and undermine other branches of the government (Lawler par. 8). The system also limits the entrance of a third party hence favoring a two-party system. Although some people see this as a demerit, it has brought the country some political stability. It also reduces the probability of the minority and interest groups swaying voters (Lawler par. 13).
This essay has discussed the negative and positive sides of the Electoral College system in the United States of America. The paper has shown how the system works identifying the possible negative ramifications that the system can influence. However, the paper notes that the system has some positive sides as well and has gone further to discuss some of the advantages of the electoral system.
Kleeb, Jane. Fail: Sen. McCoy’s Partisan Electoral College Bill. 2011. Web.
Kozlowski, Darrell. Federalism, United States, US: inforbase publishing, 2010. Print.
Lawler, Augustine. The Electoral College: top 10strenthgs and weaknesses. 2008.Web.