Paper 2 - Poli. Sci. Paper 3 Recently, one major discussion...

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Poli. Sci. Paper 3 Recently, one major discussion around the United States (especially after the 2000 and 2004 elections) has been the Electoral College system. Some think it’s absolutely absurd that the person who wins the popular vote in the US isn’t winning the presidency. A perfect example of this so called problem is from the 2000 election. Al Gore won the popular vote by more than 500,000 votes, but lost the presidency to George W. Bush in Electoral College votes, 271-267. The same argument could apply to this year’s election. People loudly voiced their opinions of not liking Bush, and many thought that Kerry had this election in the bag, but, the one and only Dubya is back in office again. Many people asked themselves (and everyone around them) “How could this happen?” Let’s start at the beginning, in the early days of popular voting most places used indirect elections and during these elections, the voters would choose members to “vote for them” for public officials. At that time, many people thought that voting for public officials weren’t something an ordinary citizen was capable of doing. Today, Americans are still not technically voting directly for the presidential candidates, we are still choosing electors (selected by each state’s party) that have pledged to vote for that party’s presidential candidate if elected, and then the group of electors cast’s all of their states electoral votes for their party’s candidate (with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, but we’ll discuss that later). The number of electoral votes a state gets is determined by the total number of senators and representatives combined. This ends up being 538 electoral votes for the fifty states and the District of Columbia. The Electoral College was originally designed to give both large and small states some role in presidential election. Before the 12 th amendment was added to the constitution, the candidate with the most electoral votes became president and the runner up became the vice president. After the 12 th 1
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amendment was added, it changed the Electoral College. The 12 th amendment created separate votes by electors for the president and vice president to avoid the problems of a president elected from one party and a vice president from another. So what’s the problem? Some think that because a candidate wins the popular vote, that should make that person the president, which would make sense. Even though it is mathematically possible for the candidate who wins the popular vote to lose the Electoral College, since the electoral votes are won on a state by state basis. Let’s reflect on two past “Electoral College crises.” The first “crisis” was in 1800; there was an Electoral College tie between candidates Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson. This problem then required the House to select the future president. With 36 ballots, Jefferson ended up as the president, only to have his
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This note was uploaded on 03/27/2008 for the course POLI SCI 104 taught by Professor Professor during the Fall '05 term at Wisconsin.

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Paper 2 - Poli. Sci. Paper 3 Recently, one major discussion...

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