“UCLA Law Professor Daniel Lowenstein offers five arguments to maintain the Electoral College as the method for choosing the President of the United States.
The Electoral College was developed by our founding fathers and enshrined in the Constitution as a system of checks and balances to ensure a fair outcome in the choosing of our presidents.
However, the highly publicized 2000 presidential election, in which Al Gore may have won the popular vote but lost the contest to George W. Bush, galvanized those who wish to see the Electoral College scrapped in favor of a national popular vote.
Come hear our panel of distinguished experts discuss the merits and pitfalls of the two systems, and the wisdom of moving from a tried and true process to something new – The Commonwealth Club of California
Daniel Lowenstein teaches Election Law, Statutory Interpretation & Legislative Process, Political Theory, and Law & Literature. A leading expert on election law, he has represented members of the House of Representatives in litigation regarding reapportionment and the constitutionality of term limits. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the award-winning theatre troupe Interact and regularly brings the company to the School of Law to perform plays with legal themes, such as Sophocles’ Antigone, Ibsen’s Rosmerholm, and Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.
Professor Lowenstein worked as a staff attorney at California Rural Legal Assistance for two and one-half years. While working for California’s Secretary of State, Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 1971, he specialized in election law, and was the main drafter of the Political Reform Act, an initiative statute that California voters approved in 1974, thereby creating a new Fair Political Practices Commission. Governor Brown appointed Professor Lowenstein as first chairman of the Commission. He has served on the national governing board of Common Cause and has been a board member and a vice president of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.”
Why do we have an Electoral College in the United States? To keep elitist Democrats and Republicans who believe people who live in small states are redneck and hillbilly’s who don’t matter and that their votes don’t count, from ignoring them. If you’re in a tight presidential race and it’s going to come down to a few of states swing states like Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana matter and that forces you to campaign there.
And those voters get to see who’ll be the next President of the United States as well who are also taxpayers. Instead of snobby Democrats just campaigning in the Northeast, Mid Atlantic, Florida, a few big States in the Midwest and California. And just speaking to the wine and cheese yuppie crowds. Now they have to campaign in Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado.
Or snobby Republicans just campaigning in the Bible Belt Bible toting crowds and cherry pick a few states in the Midwest. In order to get elected President of the United States. Now they have to see if they can pick off Pennsylvania or Michigan or Illinois or Wisconsin or Minnesota. That’s why we have the Electoral College, to prevent snobby presidential candidates from just targeting 50% of the voting public. Plus one vote in order to get elected President of the United States.
We don’t live in a majoritarian democracy, where 50% plus one is all you need to get into power as far as being President. Or a parliamentary democracy where we let our members of Congress make these decisions for us. We live in a republic in a form of a liberal democracy and being President is harder to achieve. Is our Electoral College perfect? of course not, but I sure as hell would take over anything that the rest of the world has. But we could definitely improve it.
And if that probably takes a constitutional amendment to accomplish that, then I would be open to that. I have a problem with presidential candidates winning the popular vote in at least one case by a million votes with Vice President Al Gore back in 2000 and not winning the presidency. Even though a million more voters preferred that Al Gore be President of the United States, instead of Governor George W. Bush. I’m not saying that as a Democrat, I really have a problem with that and see that as small d and l anti-liberal democratic.
But not to the point where I’m willing to throw out the Electoral College. And replace it with a popular vote or move to a parliamentary social democracy like you see in Europe. I would like to see a political system that keeps the Electoral College, but amends it to be President of the United States, you have to win the Electoral College as well as popular vote. If there’s a split decision, we would have a runoff a week later between the top two presidential candidates. Which would be decided by popular vote.
I would like to see other changes to our presidential electoral system as well. If you only win lets says 40% of one state but finish first with multiple candidates, you shouldn’t be awarded with all the electoral votes. But instead they would be divided up for everyone. Based on what percentage of the vote they get.
If you win 60% of a state or more, then you can keep all of the electoral votes. That would be a better electoral system that would be more democratic. But not scrap the Electoral College because some people believe others have too much say based on where they live and don’t like their culture and lifestyles.