Should the US (and Australia) directly elect their President?

I don’t normally touch on politics here. It’s not usually the place. But the US elections are nearly as big as the Olympics now and if you live in a country with electricity, then you can’t ignore the vote that’s happening in the US, starting later today.

I don’t want to get into the whole Red vs Blue thing here (so don’t!) but the polls are said to be very, very close. In fact, we could end up with another 2000 scenario where the guy who gets the most votes doesn’t win the prize.

Rather than talk about the candidates, I thought I’d ask about the system.

The system, in this case, means the electoral college system. Those unfamiliar with that system should check out the link but in basic terms, it gives states a say in who gets elected based on a proportional allocation of votes. States with a small population get a small say. Big states get a big say.

Coverage here in Australia has included some history on the electoral college system. I don’t know if they got it right, but they say the founding fathers in the US set it up that way because they didn’t really trust the people to make a sound decision directly. So they set up the college system so that representatives of the people would cast their state’s votes according to the people’s wishes.

In my mind, the guy who wins the most votes should win the job.

The college model seems to make it easy for candidates to forget about certain states and only spend time in ‘swing states’ trying to win votes. It’s an insult to both swing and non-swing states to have these guys either paying them extra-special attention or no attention at all.

Here in Australia, things are different (and not in a good way).

We don’t have a President. We’re still tied to the empire’s apron strings and can’t trust ourselves to have an Australian head of state. (Our last referendum on the issue was in 1999 and was soundly defeated).

Instead, we have a Prime Minister but we don’t get to vote directly for that person. At least in the USA you get to vote for the leadership candidates through the primary system. In Australia, we vote for our local member to represent us in the parliament, a person who is usually aligned to a party. The party with the most seats in the lower house gets to form government. Before all this happens, however, the party elects the leader, who’ll be the public face of the party machine both during the election and, of course, in either government or opposition.

One of the elements of this system that’s caused a lot of frustration here in Australia is that the parties are allowed to change leaders at any time. In 2007, Australians voted in huge numbers for the Labor Party under the leadership of a guy named Kevin Rudd. Mr Rudd’s Labor colleagues got sick of him, his abrasive manner and tireless work ethic, and after a few years and they ousted him and installed our first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. To have a sitting Prime Minister with a huge mandate cut off at the knees didn’t go down well and Labor has been struggling ever since, currently presiding over a venomous hung parliament.

I don’t know if there’ll be an appetite for another referendum here in Australia about becoming a republic. If there was, and if it was successful, then I’d like to be able to vote directly for the person who’s going to be leading the country.

On the eve of a US election where the popular winner might be the presidential loser, would such a system serve the US better as well?

Wouldn’t it be better to make these people work for every vote, not just votes in the swing states? Wouldn’t it be better if a republican vote in New York was worth the same as a democrat vote there? If a democrat vote in Texas carried the same weight as a republican vote in California? Isn’t that the way it should be – earn every vote.

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If I were the almighty, I’d also put a complete ban on political advertising on television. There are enough ways to communicate with people in 2012 that you can leave one medium alone.

But that’s another matter.

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Feel free to discuss.

But remember, we’re talking about the system, not the candidates here. I have friends on both sides of the political fence and I don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable or agitated discussing this. I don’t care what side of the fence people are on.

I’m just interested in whether the system is broken and whether there’s a better way.

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28 Comments

  1. The U.S. principle of “one person equals one vote” is a lie in electing the President. The electoral college made sense in the distant past when State votes went to Washington by horseback and trains, but it became obsolete decades ago.

    In the electoral college one of the presidential candidates usually gets ALL of a State’s electoral votes even if the candidate wins the State by only one vote (although there are a few exceptions). This creates the situation in each State where votes for the losing candidate count for nothing in the national Presidential election.

    It also creates absurd situations (as mentioned above) where a few States are “swing States” and thus garner all the attention in a campaign while the other States are generally ignored.

    The argument to disband the electoral college comes up every four years, only to be forgotten after the election. This is unfortunate and the U.S. will probably be stuck with this stupid system for many more elections.

    1. Your view of the Electoral College depends upon where you live in our vast country. If you live along the coasts, abolishing the Electoral College will make your voting bloc matter more. If you live in the interior of the country, the Electoral College gives your region (state) a chance to matter at all. Those two ends will always be in tension while there are only two parties involved.

      A third viable party will liberate the system by creating a fewer ‘battleground’ states where it’s all-or-nothing for one side or the other. That is, if any state could change with the vote garnered by a third party, virtually every state would be in play.

  2. No system is perfect. Getting rid of the electoral college would lead to elections that only focus on the populous states.

    American elections almost always result in a near 50/50 split of the vote, and the parties would feel that they are wasting their money campaigning in states with less population where a victory would only net them a few thousand votes. This means that the candidates would only put-in an effort in California, Texas, New York and Florida. A really tight election may see them looking for votes in some mid-sized states, but almost no effort would be spent in the remaining 40+ states.

    1. I would prefer that my vote counted, even if my area of the country didn’t receive any attention. The electoral college doesn’t allow this if you vote in the minority within your State.

      The president should be elected by all the people. Everybody’s vote should count.

  3. The the general and primary election systems seem to defy logic. Yes, in the general election it all comes down to “swing” states, and voters in the minority in certain(non-swing) states will cast irrelevant votes (ie a liberal in Texas or conservative in Massachusetts). In the primary, it is bizarre that states like Iowa and New Hampshire hold such importance. Perhaps this could all be reconstituted into a more equitable and logical system.
    The invariable SNAFU around every US election seems to give us government unable to get anything done, and perhaps this was the intent of the founders who seemed to have a fundamental mistrust of government.

    1. Well said.

      I HATE the way that we allow our political candidates to campaign, and I hate the system set up by our media to funnel “information” to the constituents.

      Re-election worry leads inevitably to a morass of compromise. Compromise does not build a winning strategy.

    2. “… it is bizarre that states like Iowa and New Hampshire hold such importance.”

      Absolutely. But it is the Press who have made it this way. It is nausiating to see the way they all trip over themselves trying to be the first one to report results/winners. Many times, the press who show up to cover the primaries/elections, outnumber the voters in these states.

      And further more…LET’S KEEP THE SUPREME COURT OUT OF THE ELECTORAL PROCESS! Their “annointing” of George the 2nd (a.k.a. “The Shrub”) was disgusting. Another travesty of American politics.

  4. As for states being “ignored” vs. “swing” states receiving attention, with today’s access to information via the internet and many media sources, everyone has much more access to what the candidates say and do then even 10 to 20 years ago. As a resident of one of the “swing” (or “battleground”) states, I would actually appreciate less attention. šŸ™‚ “Attention” usually means tons of political ads on TV and radio (mostly negative ads from both sides) and a constant stream of the candidate and his or her surrogates through your state.

    There are pros and cons for keeping or abolishing the electoral college system (discussed in the linked article and other sources…so I won’t rehash here), but what would be helpful, in my opinion, is to drastically curtail the length of the campaign season. Yes, new and less known candidates deserve time to become known to the people, but with today’s instant media, it seems that 3 months of campaigning (after primaries) with 3-4 debates, perhaps each candidate getting one hour of free TV time to discuss their platform in more detail, would be fine. All of this would end up online anyway (as it does now) so if you can’t watch it live, you can watch it later. Yes, some provision would need to be made for those in the population who do not have internet access, are home-bound, etc. But this long drawn-out process is really not needed as it was when candidates had to travel all over the country.

    1. I definitely appreciate living in a state where I’m not bombarded with political ads–at least through my window of the world. I’ve heard examples of some of them and I couldn’t imagine taking in that sort of thing day in and out.

      I agree that I’d feel like my vote counted more if the electoral college was done away with, but I live in a state that (more often than not) votes the way I do–and there’s a hefty amount of electoral votes to be won here, so really I’ve nothing to complain about. But, as was said, I think the candidates would have to do a better job at reaching EVERYONE, rather than enough people in certain areas.

      I’m also not overly fond of the two-party deal we have here, and I’d like to say that people might feel more inclined to vote outside of that–who they REALLY line up with, rather than more or less settling. Maybe the country can’t handle someone from outside the two parties; too extreme, or something.

      The only problem I see with shortening the election season is you might not get much of the gamut of candidate moods. It’s tough sustaining a campaign–and I think there’s a lot of work done to address the voter concerns of the time (through speeches, I mean–not effort put towards any solutions). Also: voter apathy. It’s a toss-up, though, really… Because I can see the type who’re more “Why all the fuss and shouting repeated in my state, when I can just watch online what happened in another state?” and those who prefer a more personal connection of a candidate visit.

      Elections are pretty crazy. All the money and effort spent… Lot of money and effort spent on trying to win votes.

      Off topic, but I would really like to see more honest working together and less… POLITICS. That all šŸ™‚

  5. A direct vote changes the entire strategy of the election and leaves out local state considerations. To change the system a 2/3’s majority of State votes are needed to change the system and that will never happen.

  6. I’ve been openly critical of the way that we elect our political leaders for some time. It’s my opinion that it’s not the mechanics of the process (e.g., the Electoral College), rather it’s the input to the process that’s flawed. We squelch the voices of great leaders and put them on the path to oblivion because they aren’t likable or telegenic. Or they’ve changed view points with the times (haven’t we all????). Or there is something else that makes them ‘unelectable’. We don’t even expect the commissioners of our professional sports leagues, who are in the entertainment business to pass that kind of test. It simply makes no sense to me that our politicians should have style over substance. None. It dumbs down our choices for the top office in the land. We let two political parties weed out great choices for the sake of their own existence. How did we get here?

    (By the way, if you ever want to read the best rejection of the election aspect of our government, read General Colin Powell’s memoirs. General Powell could have been one of the great presidents of our era, but he simply wouldn’t submit to campaigning. He simply couldn’t put on the face to kiss babies everyday of his existence. He also is the kind of candidate that the two parties filter out because he has the audacity [gasp] to disagree with certain tenets of both parties, i.e., he thinks for himself.)

    The Electoral College is, in theory, about the same thing as allowing our representatives in Congress to elect the chief executive as they do in parliamentary governments. In fact, the Electoral College allocates the same number of votes as available as the number of seats in the House and Senate. The difference is two-fold: the Presidential electors are elected independently of Congressional seats and the states generally give all electoral votes to a single winning candidate (there have been exceptions, notably Nebraska in the 2008 election). Of course, the practice of casting all available votes in one direction certainly makes the outcome more apt to large swings with relatively small margins of victory (notably President Clinton, who had approximately 70% of the Electoral College vote in two elections despite never garnering a full majority of the nation in either). What’s the difference overall? Abolish the Electoral College and only one election in the last several would have been different, and I’m still not convinced that the popular vote in 2000 was that clear-cut for Albert Gore, Jr. The margin was very thin either way (5 electoral votes vs. reported 400,000 popular votes or less than 0.5%), and the methodologies in many jurisdictions were sloppy (documented).

    My point: as said above, changing the Electoral College system requires a 2/3 majority to change, and that’s not likely. We can change something that makes real difference. Let’s tear down these monolithic political parties and their filters. Make alternative parties relevant again. That should allow for greater choice and a better pool of candidates.

    1. Some good points, Eggs. The other issue we have here in the U.S. with the two major parties and no truly viable third party is that the primary process for each party to select their presidential nominee has mostly the zealots on either end of the spectrum as the most active in the primary process. This forces the candidates to either pander to the extreme members of their party (or pretend to) to get through the process and be nominated. As you said, this filters out a lot of good candidates who don’t want to have to deal with that game. This also turns off a lot of voters (hence the rise in voters registered as independent or unaffiliated with either party). Then during the election process, the candidates have to try and play to both their bases on either end of the spectrum and also try to appeal to the majority of the people somewhere in the middle.

      It makes it very hard for any candidate to truly be brave and tell the U.S. public sometimes things they do not want to hear, but might be for the good of all.

        1. Doesn’t matter what party they represent any more. They are ALL lying sacks of poo…and whores for a vote.

          Say what it takes to get elected…then once in office…do what they please…or more correctly…what the lobyists have bought them to do for their cause/interests/money men.

          My feeling is that there should be NO private money allowed in ANY political campaign. From the most local of races, right up to and including the Presidential race.

          All elections should be funded by public monies, and the candidates should be given free air time (TV & Radio) & print space to put their message out.

    2. Great post, Eggs! Everything needs an overhaul, not just the electoral college–particularly the voter expectations and what they’re willing to listen to/want to hear… and the media. Sheesh!

  7. The electoral college system, as other have noted, is designed to protect the interests of less populous states. It’s actually evolved over the last couple hundred years, as, when it was first created, the electors were selected by state legislatures instead of by the vote of the people. There were occasions where a candidate lost the vote in a state, but still got that states’ electors.

    That said, there’s a lot to be said for parliamentary model with a PM. Like it or not, having a single party or a couple in coalition leading the country and making laws, enacting policy, etc, helps avoid the gridlock we see in the US.

    Unfortunately, the British and Australian models of parliamentary democracy, with elections by single member districts, tends to favor the same sort of either/or political parties and policy discussions we have in the US.

    I happen to believe that the German model, where one house of the Bundestag is elected by district (thus ensuring local representation) and the other by proportional representation (your party gets 20% of the votes, you get 20% of the seats, with a 5% threshold), ensures the best representation.

    Of course, the US’ biggest problem isn’t the electoral college or even the two party stranglehold. It’s low participation and the lack of any “truth in advertising” restrictions on political ads. I happen to love the Australian idea of mandatory voting, but absent any curtailment of the outright fabrications being favored in the US right now, I’m fearful that voters not fully plugged into the process will believe whatever is spewed by candidates/parties/special interests and vote on that false information.

    As I said in another forum. All politicians say things that aren’t true. That’s never going to change. But there’s a difference between saying something in good faith while you’re campaigning, then failing to deliver on that promise, and making claims and/or accusations you know aren’t true when you make them.

    1. 100% agree with you on the ‘truth in advertising’ thing. It drives me nuts that politicians can say anything and some people agree with it.

      I didn’t know that about the Bundestag. Good food for thought.

      Voter apathy isn’t as bad as advertised in the US, fortunately. Over 60% of the ‘VAP’ (voting age population) has turned out in all national elections since 1996 or 2000 (can’t recall which). When corrected for the ‘VAP’ that isn’t eligible to vote (immigrants, felons, etc.), the number is more like 70%. That’s not bad.

  8. A wise man once said “Anyone with enough life experience to be good at running a country has too much life experience to be elected.”

  9. I think eggsngrits makes good points about the US system.

    The Australian system sounds very similar to the British system, and not in a good way. Parties elect the PM, not the people – not directly, anyway. That can’t be right.

    Britain still has a lot of feudal and fundamentally undemocratic baggage, though, that people remain stubbordnly attached too, like the (unelected) House of Lords and the monarchy. I am not saying I am for or against these things, but you can’t realistically argue that they are democratic.

    Scotland (which is now semi-independent within the UK) has a slightly different system (albeit it still defers to UK level for things like defence and most taxation affairs) because proportional representation is used to elect the government in Edinburgh. This is more democratic than the Westminster first-past-the-post system, albeit the version of PR in Scotland is not as proportional as that used in other countries. But the ultimate problem remains, the winning party fighting the Scottish elections gets its leader installed as the First Minister; he or she is not elected by the people (at least not directly).

    London has an interesting system now with the direct election of a mayor, I believe also by the kind of limited PR as is used in Scotland. They also elect a London Assembly, also using PR. The interesting thing about London is that here, at least, there is DIRECT election of the mayor. Given the size of London – more than the whole population of Scotland – and given its unique identity (arguably a foreign country from the rest of England) then this is perhaps a good example of a small metropolitan kingdom electing a leader, albeit he too still has to defer to Westminster and the Prime Minister on certain key issues.

    The Swedish system seems odd. In many ways representation here is very democratic indeed – infinitely more democratic than the United States, it seems to me – and yet, like the Norwegians, they combine radically progressive social democracy with an ongoing love affair with their old feudal kings and queens. If it means the progressive politics flourishes while people service their underlying need for feudal romanticism by reading gossip magazines about the Swedish king’s latest antics and the love affairs of his princesses then maybe it is a worthwhile compromise.

    The German system seems better than many other systems in the world, I agree. Look at how successful Germany is, as indeed is Sweden and Norway, in the face of a prolonged economic crisis that’s crippling other countries including the UK and the US. Something must be working better in these northern European countries, and I wonder if it has something to do with electing governments by more proportional, democratic means at both local and national level? My guess is it has more to do with deeper cultural values about how they collectively want to run their economies and societies, but that is a much bigger issue.

  10. I don’t think I’m informed enough to comment on the USA election system, however been good to read others comments.

    In Australia, to pick up on a few comments.

    Mandatory voting, I think almost all Australians have a love hate with it. Some people simply don’t want to vote. The other argument is that informed voters don’t like the idea of uninformed voters voting.

    As to voting for our Prime Minister, I think our system doesn’t lend itself to voting for a Prime Minister. Our current two options Gillard and Abbott seem to be both very unpopular, so not sure how it’d work.

    If we become a republic, and we get a President it really depends on the role he will play. If he is simply a figure head then I’m not sure we need a President. If they have an active roll in the running of the country then voting for them. would be good. However how we vote and candidate selection would need to be worked out.

    With our (Australian) electorates, they are all the same size. We vote for the person we want to represent us (similar to the German style) in the house of representatives, they can be from any number of parties (We have Labor/Liberal/Greens holding seats) or interdependent (we have a few of these). I disagree that this is an either or system, if it was we wouldn’t have the hung parliament we have today.

    We also have the Senate. The Senate is normally were the minority parties get elected. Fishers/Shooters/Families first/One Nation/etc. Julian Assange is running for a senate seat. Each state getting an equal number of seats, so 512,000 Tasmanians get the same seats as 7.3 million New South Welshman. This is so each state gets fair representation.

    1. The inability for the republican movement to agree on how a republic should look/function is probably the #1 reason why the referendum was defeated back in 99.

  11. I’m going to cover a few things here that may well upset some people, but I’m going to say them anyway. It’s delivered a bit tongue in cheek, but the underlying message is real and is what I believe. Apologies if you don’t like it, but, we are talking about being democratic after all…

    Firstly, I agree that no system is perfect, they all have their flaws. “First past the post”, whether it is electing MPs or the electoral college system is one way to do it. Proportional Representation (PR) is another. Neither of them works perfectly. Neither of them.

    You have described some of the flaws in “first past the post”. It is implemented in different ways in different countries. It is in the implementation and the compromises this entails that problems can occur, however, it does have its merits. It tries to avoid certain issues that can arise with PR. Statistically, PR is “fairer”. But PR can result in hung parliaments (in multi-party parliamentary democracies such as mine) on a more frequent basis than in the two-party system in the US would. This causes stagnation, cripples decision-making and inhibits the adoption of a cohesive strategy. PR also means that communities with smaller populations but different needs to the larger (urban!) communities go unheard, or their needs become less important.

    On balance, I prefer the first past the post system. I still like to see some reforms to its implementation here in the UK, though.

    A more fundamental issue is the republican argument. Republics rely on someone being voted in, whose method of becoming “President” relies on being popular. The candidates have to make themselves attractive to the populus. “Attractive” does not equal “right”, or “decisive”, or “fair”, or (and let’s try not to be emotive here…) “unbiased”. They also have a short shelf-life and therefore have only short-term objectives, which are by their nature self-serving.

    I am proud to live in a democratic monarchic system. Our monarch has little power, she really is a figurehead to all intents and purposes. The same therefore applies to you, Swade. I suspect you guys would rightly prefer a little less commonwealth influence, but I hope you see the value in the association and the cultural and commercial links it creates.

    We elect our politicians, a slimy bunch at best. Let’s not forget they are elected by the majority* of the people who choose to vote.
    [*methods of calculation may differ.]

    This is the bit people may REALLY not like…

    On what basis does anyone genuinely believe that the majority of the people are right, and that therefore the people who most appeal to the majority of people are best to run our countries? That is a serious question. The answer to which is not “all men are equal, we should all have our say”. That implies “all men have equally valid views”. I dispute that.

    Frankly I think that most voters are uninformed, which means the value of their voting decision is fundamentally flawed. Yes I really think that. And before you condemn me as undemocratic, I count myself in that category. I don’t take enough interest in current affairs to consider myself qualified to properly judge a party’s policies or manifesto. Most people vote on “what’s in it for me”, not “what is right for my country”.

    So what’s good about the system I like? Well, having exercised our democratic rights, and voiced our “opinions”/”biases”/”bigoted ideas”/”carefully thought-through deliberations” [delete as appropriate], we end up with a bunch of guys whose primary purpose is to get us to vote the same way next time.

    Our monarch is not elected. She has no choice. While you may not agree with her family’s position of “privilege”, most rational people cannot argue with her commitment to her country nor her devotion to a duty she has had no choice but to accept for 60 years now. She provides a level of experience, balance, and objectivity that transcends party politics. Every former British PM that is still alive will speak of her advice and wisdom. She also provides the final “check and balance” that our elected politicians are doing something approximating the “right thing”. She grants the government the right to rule. She invites the leader of the party with the most support in Parliament to form a government. This does not just “happen”. Our laws require her consent. It is unheard of in recent times for such consent to be withheld, but I sleep better at night knowing that, should anyone in a position of power attempt to abuse that power, there is a checkpoint, and that the checkpoint does not rely on being popular with voters.

    So for me, while I would like to see reforms to our (original) parliamentary system, I do not wish to see wholesale change. It’s not broken, just not firing on all 4.
    Or all 6 [mustn’t forget that the Saab turbo I drive is a V6 these days :)]

    I’ll finish off with one of my favourite quotes, from one of the greatest leaders my country has ever had the privilege to elect:

    Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
    Sir Winston Churchill, Hansard, November 11, 1947

    May the deity of your choice* grant a long life to the Queen šŸ˜‰
    *or other such universal source of power and all things good

    1. Interesting read, and I like what you’ve written. Your assertion that not all voters are equally informed and capable is the underlying assumption that Mallthus and, to a lesser degree, I were driving at.

      The reason that the political parties choose telegenic and ‘likable’ candidates is that most people are uninformed and generally make emotional decisions. To perpetuate, the political parties intentionally hide the full extent of the truth from the public. This is not good.

      That’s the real crux of the battle right now in the US. One side says that the country needs to provide more and more to the general populace with lesser regard for how sustainable that is, while the other side says that we have to tighten our belts now to make the system viable long-term. Most people that voted last time want more now instead of in the future. Is that wise? I don’t think so.

      It’s a difficult system to balance, that’s for sure.

    2. Well put. I pretty much completely agree with your viewpoint.

      Here in Canada, the system is not vastly different than in Australia (though the voting rates are much lower and lowering with each election it seems). There have been increasingly calls for PR and perhaps having some component of that would have merit. At the moment there is quite a divide between the urban and rural needs/objectives/viewpoint. The urban centers would benefit more from PR. Canada is very large geographically, with vast regions of low population and more dense cities, mostly in the south (not entirely unlike Australia). As a result, some regions have more ridings per capita than others and the level of representation from region to region comes up for debate. A MP might represent a small chunk of a city or a region larger than most countries (the Nunavut riding has fewer than 30k people and covers an area larger than all of Scandinavia, whereas the smallest riding, is only 9 square km and has >100k residents).

      We also have a multi-party system, where vote splitting among similar parties can be a significant factor.

      As a result of all of the above, especially in recent years, we sometimes have minority governments that bicker and have difficulty being effective. It is also not uncommon to have a party win a majority of ridings and have a minority of the popular vote.

      Perhaps my point is that there are issues with all systems… 2 party vs multiparty… PR vs regional representation.

      Ultimately, as a well educated person, I find it all discouraging, since “personalities” play a bigger role in who gets elected than the factual content or the policies they represent… many voters probably couldn’t understand or care less about the full implications of proposed policies, yet their votes shape the long-term future of our countries… I may sound snobbish for saying that, but it is true… it will always be an imperfect but necessary arrangement.

      Winston Churchill was spot on.

  12. Somehow, I must confess, I already dislike the starting point, i.e. the notion of “one strong person at the top”. It has actually been carried over from the old European feudalistic hierarchy of kings and queens, and lacks in democratic value. A prime minister, in my opinion, should be kind of a coordinator. A direct election by the people would over emphasize his position.

    Instead, I would favour more direct democracy, where the people can more easily decide factual questions, like legislation, or how their taxes are used.

  13. I think the electoral college is bad news. If you are in California and voted Republican you wasted your time.

    I also think the process should last 6 weeks only with 2 debates and then it’s over. The process is too long. How is a President supposed to do his job when he’s campaigning for one or more years of his term.

    1. I agree Troy. The situation is similar for Democrats in states like Oklahoma. I actually believe that the system depresses voter turnout, especially in presidential elections, which hurts candidates in local races.

      When I lived in Oklahoma, for instance, I actually continued to vote in Connecticut as an absentee voter, for nearly a full year, because I knew that, as a Democrat, I was mostly peeing in the wind in Oklahoma.

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