Should the President be Elected by Popular Vote?

Thanks to the Electoral College, every presidential election comes down to the candidates' performance in a handful of states. Should that system be abolished in favor of direct election by popular vote?

As Election Day draws nearer, many polls show President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney running neck-and-neck nationally -- but a decided, if slight, advantage for Obama in the electoral vote.

Each state gets a certain number of electoral votes, based upon its population. In order to win the presidency, either Obama or Romney must win at least 270 of the 538 total electoral votes.

The system has the effect of making your vote count a lot more in "swing states" -- states where the majority could conceiveably vote for either candidate -- than in other, more politically predictable states. It is a virtual certainty, for instance, that Georgia will vote for Mitt Romney, so an individual Georgian's vote for Barack Obama doesn't mean a lot -- Georgia's 16 electoral votes are going to be cast for Romney. Conversely, an individual voter's choice for Romney in ultra-blue New York won't stop that state's 29 electoral votes from going to Obama.

However, a voter in a state like Ohio -- where the race is much closer -- wields a lot more power. Ohio's 18 electoral votes could -- and probably will -- decide the presidential election.

And that leads to a bit of a conundrum. The national race is very tight, with many polls showing Romney with a slight lead. Most polls in Ohio and other swing states like Wisconsin, however, show an advantage for Obama. It's entirely possible that Obama could win the electoral vote -- and thus a second term -- while losing the popular vote.

It's happened before. In 1876, Rutheford B. Hayes won the presidency by a single electoral vote, but lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden by a margin of 250,000, according to FactCheck.org. In 1880, Benjamin Harrison won the electoral vote while losing the popular vote to Grover Cleveland. And perhaps most famously, George W. Bush won an electoral victory in 2000 while losing the popular vote -- barely -- to Al Gore.

Obviously, it's not an ideal situation. Which raises the question: Should the Electoral College be abolished? Is it time we elect our president by direct, popular vote? Or should we stick with the system we know? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

DontTreadOnMe November 01, 2012 at 12:54 AM
No. Our Constitution created a federal government limited to protecting individual rights. It was founded a republic, with checks against aggregation of power in mortal hands, that would create tyranny. History has proven both this government's ability to govern in peace and prosperity and the surety that power begets destitution and slaughter. Instituting popular election of president and vice-president would eliminate a critical check and greatly aggregate power. Prior to 1913, senators were elected by their state legislators. The Tenth Amendment required all power not delegated to the federal government was reserved to states and the people. The 17th Amendment made election of senators by popular vote just as the House is elected. This transferred power from states to the federal government - senators were no longer accountable to their states but to their constituencies. Together congressmen and senators are continuously reelected using their positions to funnel money to special interests with runaway spending and total corruption. Our Founders understood that democracy was the tyranny of the majority. Vladimir Lenin said: "Democracy is indispensable to socialism" and "the goal of socialism is communism." Unfortunately most Americans are ignorant of history. And that ignorance will doom us to repeat it - unless we restore our Constitutional government. That choice is ours.


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