The Longest Night: Polemics and Perspectives on Election 2000

By Arthur J. Jacobson; Michel Rosenfeld | Go to book overview

20
THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE:
A FATALLY FLAWED INSTITUTION

The Electoral College is a highly imperfect method of electing the president of the United States. At best it distorts campaign strategy and poorly represents the popular will. At worst it can create a political and constitutional crisis in determining who should be president. My argument is simple : the 2000 election, like any election, vividly illustrates the distortions and imperfections of this fatally flawed means of determining the American president. Further, as in 2000 or a future election, the Electoral College has the potential for creating a serious electoral crisis, deeply eroding the security of our democratic processes.


THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE AT ITS BEST

The Electoral College means of presidential election is of great significance, even when it produces a clear decision. The Electoral College is not a neutral and fair counting device for tallying popular votes cast for president in the form of electoral votes. Instead it invests some votes with more significance than others, according to the state in which they are cast. As a result, these distortions of popular preferences greatly influence candidate strategy: certain key states, their voters, parochial interests, political leaders, and unique local factors, are favored. This focusing on certain key battleground states—and the writing off of other states—could be easily observed in the recent 2000 presidential campaign.

The Electoral College election of the president also discriminates among types of candidates. Independent or third-party contenders with a regional following have great opportunities for Electoral College significance, while independent or third-party candidates with broad-based but nationally distributed support may find themselves excluded from winning any Electoral

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