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What is the people’s will?
Surveys show that Democratic contender Barack Obama will likely be elected president. That’s not as certain as some polls indicate, however, because the electoral system in the U.S. wasn’t created to best represent the will of the people. It was created to create the most stable majorities, in some cases even against the will of the people as we saw in George W. Bush’s first election in which his opponent, Al Gore, actually received more votes.
Individuals don’t vote for the president, they vote for “electors” who determine in the Electoral College who will be President. They are, therefore, committed to select the candidate who received the most individual votes in that state. It’s unfair, however, that all of the state’s electoral votes go to the winner. If this system were in place for primary elections, Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic candidate today.
The Electoral College system is skewed in favor of Republicans because the number of electors isn’t determined by the number of people who actually vote, it’s determined by the size of the population. Due to the fact that many people in the United States reside in “unincorporated” areas, an accurate population count is hard to determine. Census figures are notoriously inaccurate and, at best guess, only represent around ninety percent of the actual number. In states with mega-cities, population figures are glaringly underestimated. This means their importance in the Electoral College is diminished. Democrats, who are especially numerous in these states are, therefore, at a disadvantage.
There are other oddities about the American system. Why, for example, is the national election held on Tuesday, a workday for most people? Back in the 19th century, perhaps farmers and ranchers had little to do on the first Tuesday in November and the choice was popular. But that doesn’t hold true any longer in a world where the workforce is so specialized, where employees have to think twice about taking time off to vote. The bottom line is that the usual meager turnout at America’s polls, where fifty percent is considered a success, could spell doom for Obama.
In any case, one thing is obvious: Any telephone survey in the United States is more representative of the people’s will than the entire electoral system.