Electoral College Issues Explored through Mathematics and Data Analysis NCSS San Diego December 1, 2007 Dr. Tim Fry Washburn University Topeka, KS [email protected] Electoral College. Historical Origins & Precedents Inquiry Activities Games & Activities
(Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections)
Related articles by Tim Fry:“Constitutional Mathematics: Integrating Social Studies and Mathematics,” Law Wise, September 2004 “Lesson Plan #1: The Electoral College Game,” Law Wise, September 2004
large/small states; central/federal versus states power; balance of power between Congress & the Presidency; little communication between states-
The Second Design (after four elections and rise of political parties)
the 12th Amendment(1804) requires that:
+ each Elector cast one vote for president and a separate vote for vice president
+ if no one receives an absolute majority of electoral votes for president, then the U.S. House of Representatives will select the president from among the top three contenders with each State casting only one vote and an absolute majority being required to elect.
+ if no one receives an absolute majority for vice president, then the U.S. Senate will select the vice president from among the top two contenders for that office.
Election Inquiry Activity Map #1 Amendments
Election Inquiry Activity Map #2 Amendments
Election Inquiry Activity Questions Amendments
Use Inquiry Activity Maps #1 to answer the following questions about Presidential Elections from 1972-2000
1. What three elections did the Republicans win the electoral vote by a landslide?
2. Which election was the closest in number of electoral votes?
Which election was close in the popular vote but a landslide in the electoral vote?
Name at least one state in which the same political party has won all eight elections.
Note an election that was close in both the electoral vote and the popular vote.
In which election did the Democratic candidate do the poorest in number of electoral votes?
In which election did the winner of the popular vote lose the electoral vote?
“Electoral Vote Density” Amendments
Number of voters divided by electoral votes
Varies greatly between California and Wyoming
California Electoral Vote Density: 651,659 persons per EV
Wyoming Electoral Vote Density: 168,511persons per EV
Electoral College AmendmentsKeep it, Tweak it,Scrap it ?
Some Arguments Amendmentsfor the Electoral College
maintains a federal system of government and representation
----”nationalization of our central government”--”state’s choice”
contributes to the political stability of the nation by encouraging a two-party system and political stability
---diffficult for minor party to win enough popular votes to get electoral votes--forces fringe or extreme ideas to the middle and also sometimes forces majority parties to adopt new ideas to maintain support--assimilation process--pragmatism
contributes to the cohesiveness of the country by requiring a distribution of popular support to be elected president
--Candidates must build coaltions of states and regions (urban and rural) & without it the EC comes the possibilty of domination of one large populous region or of urban over rural interests
Four Arguments Against the Electoral College Amendments
* the possibility of electing a numerically minority president
narrow popular vote in large state-winner take all
* the risk of so-called "faithless" Electors
1988-Dukakis/Bensen-West Virginia Elector switched them
* the possible role of the Electoral College in depressing voter turnout
other elections always taking place as well
* its failure to accurately reflect the national popular will
seven least populous states combined voters of about 3 million and 25 electoral votes the same as almost 10 million voters in Florida with the same 25 electoral votes--electoral vote density
Tweak It ? Amendments
Two Electors At Large and one Electors for each Congressional District are pledged to each Presidential/Vice-Presidential ticket (the Electors' names may or may not appear on the ballot). The At-Large Electors pledged to the ticket having received the plurality of votes state-wide are chosen. The Elector pledged to the ticket having received the plurality of votes within each Congressional District is chosen.
* This method was used by Michigan in the 1892 Election, splitting electors Rep 9 to Dem 5
* Maine adopted this method in 1969 (first used in 1972), but has yet to split any electors
* Nebraska adopted this method in 1991 (first used in 1992), but has yet to split any electors
Your Thoughts on the Amendments