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American Politics: Get to Know Them


Around this time of year everyone gets a little more anxious. It’s not because of the holidays or the changing weather or even the extra hour of sleep, it’s because it’s election season.
But many people aren’t quite sure why we vote or even how it works. Not to worry, Yellow Scene is here to clear everything up for you.A

Key Terms:

Democrat: this is anyone belonging to the Democratic party which stems from the word democracy. This is a form of government where citizens vote for their leaders or representatives.

Republican: this is anyone belonging to the Republican party which stems from the word republic. This is another form of government that places the power in the hands of citizens who, in turn, elect one or more representatives either directly or indirectly through voting.

Federalism: this, again, is a form of government with a large nationalized government which contains a smaller government for each individualized state within the country or nation. This is the foundation that America was first founded on in 1789 (ex. Federal Gov’t vs State Gov’t).

Today the United States government is considered a Democratic Federalist Constitutional Republic which combines elements of the above three types of government while also adhering to the laws put in place by a nationally recognized constitution. However, the Democratic and Republic aspects often take a back seat compared to Federalism. The biggest example of this is the Electoral College.

Electoral College:

This is the perfect example of Federalism, especially here in America. The Electoral College was first established with the government in 1789. It made in the belief that cities would become overpopulated and could therefore dilute or even help concentrate votes towards a certain candidate, plus it helps get rid of people buying or influencing votes through money or scare tactics (mostly). The Electoral College is a group of people who are placed in each state by the representatives of the people (ex. Senators, house representatives, etc.). These people are placed in the Electoral College based on their voting preference (Democratic, Republican or other) but are not forced to vote a certain way. Each state has at least two Electoral College voters, represented by the two senators from each state, and gain an extra voter for each person in the states house of representatives. For example, last presidential election Colorado was given nine voters in the Electoral College. Two voters came from the two senators and the other seven came from the seven representatives of the state. The American constitution states that the members of the Electoral College cannot be members of congress, an official of high rank within one of the American governmental branches or military or someone who has openly started or engaged in rebellion against the US.

Presidential Election:

Unlike the general election or the primaries, the presidential election is the only American election that uses the Electoral College system. All other elections rely on the majority vote of the citizens, more commonly known as the popular vote. In terms of the presidential election, only the Electoral College votes are counted toward the electing of a president. The popular vote is not officially counted toward electing the American commander-in-chief. In the event of a tie, the House of Representatives decides the winner through a vote. There have been only four times in American history where the popular vote and the Electoral College vote opposed each other (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000) and has only gone to a deciding House of Representatives vote once (1800) which is the only election in American history to see an official tie. The election of 1800 is the main reason behind the passing of the 12th Amendment (separate voting for the Vice President).

Because the popular vote doesn’t officially count in electing US Presidents is the reason many people despise the Electoral College. Many people believe that the Electoral College voters can become corrupt or that they have too much power. This system was designed to coincide with our government and the laws set in place by our constitution. It was enacted to help combat corruption and manipulation of the government. With that being said it was established in 1789 and has allowed for little growth or variances within the system. Is it time to change how we elect our officials, or is the system just fine the way it is?

Credit: howstuffworks.com


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    The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    Current federal law (Title 3, chapter 1, section 6 of the United States Code) requires the states to report the November popular vote numbers (the “canvas”) in what is called a “Certificate of Ascertainment.” They list the electors and the number of votes cast for each. The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes reported in the Certificates of Ascertainment. You can see the Certificates of Ascertainment for all 50 states and the District of Columbia containing the official count of the popular vote at the NARA web site.

    With the current system of electing the President, none of the states requires that a presidential candidate receive anything more than the most popular votes in order to receive all of the state’s or district’s electoral votes.

    There have been 22,991 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome. The electors are and will be dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors).

    Because of the state-by-state winner-take-all electoral votes laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) in 48 states, a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in 4 of the nation’s 57 (1 in 14 = 7%) presidential elections. The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes is highlighted by the fact that a shift of a few thousand voters in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 15 presidential elections since World War II. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 7 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012). 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes. In 2012, a shift of 214,733 popular votes in four states would have elected Mitt Romney, despite President Obama’s nationwide lead of 4,966,945 votes.

    The Founding Fathers in the Constitution did not require states to allow their citizens to vote for president, much less award all their electoral votes based upon the vote of their citizens.

    During the course of campaigns, candidates are educated and campaign about the local, regional, and state issues most important to the handful of battleground states they need to win. They take this knowledge and prioritization with them once they are elected. Candidates need to be educated and care about all of our states.

    The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state, ensures that the candidates, after the conventions, in 2012 did not reach out to about 80% of the states and their voters. 10 of the original 13 states are ignored now. Candidates had no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they were safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

    80% of the states and people were just spectators to the presidential election. That’s more than 85 million voters, more than 200 million Americans.

    Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

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    A survey of Colorado voters showed 68% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    Support was 79% among Democrats, 56% among Republicans, and 70% among independents.

    By age, support was 83% among 18-29 year olds, 59% among 30-45 year olds, 71% among 46-65 year olds, and 66% for those older than 65.

    By gender, support was 77% among women and 58% among men.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes, and thus the presidency, to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by replacing state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states.

    The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founders. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founders in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. States can, and have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Historically, major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

    Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed recently. In virtually every of the 39 states surveyed, overall support has been in the 70-80% range or higher. – in recent or past closely divided battleground states, in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.
    Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states (including Colorado) with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.


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