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American Military University Week 3 Electoral College in The US Discussion

American Military University Week 3 Electoral College in The US Discussion

Question Description

I’m working on a law question and need support to help me study.

Answer Initial Discussion question 250 words. Respond to 3 classmates 250 Words each

For your reading this week you read Bush v Gore. Let’s talk about presidential elections.

For initial discussion post discuss:

1) What is the electoral college and how does it work?

2) Do you agree with the concept of electoral votes? Why or why not?

3) Do you agree with the ruling in Bush v Gore? Why or why not?

Classmate 1 Jeffrey: The electoral college is a very criticized, yet crucial component of our democratic process. The past few elections along with ease of information access with an ever-increasing internet from just a few presidential elections ago give the American people a basic understanding of what the electoral college is. Although, we generally understand what electoral votes are and the need to wait for a candidate to receive 270 of those votes many of us still find how those votes are actually decided to be vague.

The electoral college was created in 1787 in Article II, section 1 of the Constitution. The original purpose of the electoral college was the belief a popular vote was too reckless; allowing a few populated areas to determine an entire election. Currently, the electoral college has 538 electoral votes distributed to states depending on the population that shifts slightly every 10 years due to the national census bureau results. A total of 538 electoral votes was determined by 535 members of the House of Representatives and the Senate and an additional three votes who those who represent Washington D.C.

For the most part, a popular vote is conducted in each state with the winner of that popular vote earning all of that state’s electoral votes. For example, if two candidates were competing for California’s 55 electoral votes the candidate with even one more vote than the other would earn all 55 electoral votes regardless of how many the losing candidate earned. This system is in place to give smaller states more power in determining an election and not to be ignored by a candidate.

How the electors are chosen has changed over the centuries. Article II, section 1 of the Constitution; states electors cannot be members of Congress or hold Federal office. The Fourteen Amendment adds the electors cannot have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or given aid or comfort to its enemies. Individual states are responsible for how they appoint their electors as long as they follow this guidance. Popular methods include choosing electors by state party conventions or vote in a smaller state convention committee.

I agree with the concept of an electoral college. It can seem unconstitutional when a presidential candidate loses the election, even though they won the popular vote and did not gain enough electors. This has happened recently in the 2000 election when George W. Bush beat Al Gore even though Al Gore had more individual votes. Even more recently in 2016 when Hillary Clinton earned more votes than Donald Trump, however, once again did not gain enough electoral votes. If a popular vote was law candidates would likely ignore rural states completely. From the 2020 National Census, 80% of Americans live in urban areas overshadowing the voting power of rural regions. This is not guaranteed, however, the only way to know this for sure would be to enact the law which could have unforeseen consequences.

Bush v. Gore (2000) was a case that brought many questions as to the involvement the United States Supreme Court should have in presidential elections. The 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush came to what was a tie with the determining factor being the state of Florida and who would win its 25 electoral votes. On the first count, George W. Bush won the state by a margin of fewer than 2,000 votes out of over six million. Florida law requires a recount when a margin is less than half of one percent meaning a recount was required. When the recount was complete in all but one country Bush’s lead slimed down to winning by only 327 votes. At this time Al Gore exercised his right under Florida law to demand a hand recount in his choice of four historically democratic counties.

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris who worked on the Bush campaign gave counties a deadline of November 18, 2000, to submit their recounts. The Florida Supreme Court extended this deadline to November 26, 2000. After several extensions and petitions, the Florida Supreme Court demanded all votes not counted by machines had to be hand-counted on December 8, 2000. George W. Bush appealed this decision to the United States Supreme Court, and the case was heard immediately after.

George W. Bush advocated that the recounts violated the Fourteenth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause. In a 7-2 vote, the United States Supreme Court sided with George W. Bush agreeing that the Equal Protection Clause was violated because they viewed the recount gave special treatment to certain ballots and jurisdictions over others. This decision sealed George W. Bush’s presidential victory making him the new president-elect. To this day people speak out against this decision with many believing the Supreme Court was able to interpret the law in any way they wanted to effectively choose who they wanted to be President of the United States.

Regardless of who you support in this case, it can be difficult to outwardly support the outcome. A quick decision was necessary due to the inauguration being one month away. I do not think the case had to go to the United States Supreme Court. The Florida Supreme Court had already established deadlines for ballots, even though some counties missed it. To answer the question if I support the decision, I have to put myself in the shoes of the justices and agree they acted appropriately. A decision was necessary and picking and choosing where you want recounts and unclear ballots can prove to violate the Equal Protection Clause.

References:

Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000).

Sarah Pruitt, How Are Electoral College Electors Chosen, History (Oct. 21, 2020), https://www.history.com/news/electors-chosen-electoral-college.

U.S. Cities Factsheet, University of Michigan (last visited May. 16, 2021), http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/us-cities-factsheet.

U.S. Const. amend XIV.

U.S Const. art. II, sec 1.

Classmate 2 Adam: Greetings Classmates,Welcome to my week 3 forum posting. I always love looking at the new topics in this class so far because some would say they are a bit controversial at the moment, and like your boss would tell you, avoid talking about politics, religion, etc in your place of business however, I digress. This week we will discuss the electoral college and the ruling in Bush vs. Gore.

To start off before I get to answering the opinion-based questions, run through what the definition of the electoral college is;

When your average American voter goes out to the local poll, that voter is actually voting for your state representative to then cast their vote based on how the state populous voted. The word “college” is just referring to a number of people sharing a task. These Congressman are elected officials themselves, who are serving a function to then choose the president and vice-president (and I use choose loosely because the choice is not really theirs).

The electoral college meets every election year, just after the election to carry out said duties. The number of electors each state gets is based upon the size of said states population. “Each state gets as many electors as it has lawmakers in the US Congress (representatives in the House and senators)”. At the end of the day, a candidate needs to gain a majority of the votes (270 or more) to win the presidency.

To get into my opinion, where to start. First of all, I would agree with one side of the argument that the system unto itself is a bit archaic, yes. It was created when the constitution was written up and the times were drastically different at that point in our history. But there is another side that I can see where this system still sees smaller states have more of a voice than a nationwide popular vote to decide the president. I myself am from the great state of Maine, which I would like to point out is roughly the least biased state in a certain sense as we had enough common sense to be able to split up our electoral vote based on the popular vote turn out in the state (a novel concept that would likely solve a lot of issues and complaints with our present day electoral college system).

My thought process is that sure, a vast majority of the population lives in the major cities in a few states, but those members of society live exponentially different lives and have exponentially different values and priorities than people in my state and region may have and that a large majority of those that do not live in those cities represent vast swathes of territory none the less and are governed under the same rule as those in a condensed smaller zone, but all areas of the country should be represented more equally not essentially all people needing to be represented equally. But again, this was an opinion-based question so moving on. Personally, I feel pushing all of the states to dole out electoral votes based on popular vote (in their state) as Maine and Nebraska currently do would be the best way to adjust for modern times.

Lastly to touch on Bush vs. Gore, bearing in mind that I had no dog in this fight, I absolutely agree with the Supreme courts decision on recount as the State itself had not voted or enacted in new election law and that the Supreme court of Florida (not elected officials) essentially made up a new law as they saw fit to meet the circumstances. Although of late it seems our Congress pushes new law whenever they see fit with or without the will of the people behind them, the premise of our nation was built on the fact that the elected officials were meant to be the voice of the people and were to put laws in place for the good of the people, it was not up to an un-elected official to impose their will or collective wills. I think the US Supreme court got it right here.

I look forward to reading others postings in this divisive topic week .

Classmate 3 Sherron: The Electoral College chooses the president of the United States. When an American citizen casts their vote, they are not directly choosing a presidential candidate. Instead, they are choosing an official, who will represent them in the “college”. The word college translates to a large group of people (the elected officials) who have the job of choosing the president, and this role is carried out a few weeks after the results of the Election Day. The more people who live in a state, the more electors there are for that state. So, California for example, with a population of 38.8 million, has 55 votes while Delaware, (pop. 936,000), has just three votes. There are currently 538 electors in total, corresponding to the 435 Representatives (congressmen and women) and 100 Senators, plus the three additional electors from the District of Columbia[1]. The Constitution prohibits any federal official, elected or appointed, from being an elector. The candidate with the most electors wins all the state’s Electoral College votes and the first candidate to win enough states to get to 270 electoral votes is elected to that office.

In my opinion the popular vote should win the election. The Electoral College seems less democratic than a popular vote. Not only can someone win the presidency without winning the popular vote, another consequence is that it influences how and where candidates campaign. Under the current system, if it seems clear that one candidate is likely to win a particular state, there is no reason for the other candidate to campaign in that state and try to capture any votes. As a result, rather than visiting as many states as they can, candidates end up focusing their time and resources on a small number of swing states. (Swing states are states that can reasonably be won by either the Democratic or Republican Presidential candidate.) This practice contradicts the idea that Presidential candidates should share their platform and seek as many votes as possible in every state across the whole country.

Here is a brief recap of the 2000’s election. On November 8, 2000, a preliminary vote tally in Florida showed Bush leading Gore by about 1,700 votes in the state. With its 25 electoral votes up for grabs, the winner in Florida would become the next President of the United States. The initial vote tally was so close in Florida, with a less than 0.5 percent difference, that Florida’s state laws triggered an automatic machine recount. The first recount left Bush with just a 317-vote margin over Gore. Gore asked for a manual recount in four counties as allowed under Florida’s law. Over the next weeks, Democrats and state officials fought over deadlines related to the recount and the need for deadline extensions. On November 26, 2000, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris certified that Bush had won the election by a 537-vote margin. Gore then sued Harris because all of the recounts had not been completed when she certified the results. On December 8, 2000, the Florida Supreme Court sided with Gore, ordering that all statewide undervote ballots, or punch-card ballots that had been cast but not registered because of a problem called a “hanging chad,” needed to be recounted[2]. Bush immediately appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which ordered the recount halted on December 9, 2000 until it could hear arguments in the case[3].

This is where I disagree with the ruling. In my opinion the Supreme Court should not have stopped the counting of legal votes. A stay should have not be granted unless Bush made a substantial showing of irreparable harm. Counting every legally cast vote did not constitute irreparable harm. Preventing the recount from being completed has cast a cloud on the legitimacy of that election.

Sherron


[1] National Archives, Distribution of Electoral Votes, https://www.archives.gov/electoral-college/allocation (2021)

[2] “Supreme Court of Florida No. SC00-2431 Gore v. Harris 772 S2d 1243”. Findlaw. December 8, 2000

[3] Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000)

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