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Election 2012: Should the President be Elected by Popular Vote?

Thanks to the Electoral College, every presidential election comes down to the candidates' performance in a handful of states. Should that system be abolished in favor of direct election by popular vote?

Election Day is tomorrow and, many polls show President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney running neck-and-neck nationally — but a decided, if slight, advantage for Obama in the electoral vote.

Each state gets a certain number of electoral votes, based upon its population. In order to win the presidency, either Obama or Romney must win at least 270 of the 538 total electoral votes.

The system has the effect of making your vote count a lot more in "swing states" — states where the majority could conceiveably vote for either candidate — than in other, more politically predictable states. The reason you're seeing Vice President Joe Biden, Romney and others frequent the Sunshine State so much because it could easily come down to Florida, Florida, Florida and those precious 29 electoral votes—two more than it had in 2008. Of course, that's over simplifying this.

See, there's more math involved.

Thanks to the various combinations to get to 270, it could be a state like Colorado with its nine electoral votes that could keep America up all night, NBC's Chuck Todd reports.

And that leads to a bit of a conundrum. The national race is very tight, with many polls showing Romney with a slight lead. Most polls in Ohio and other swing states like Wisconsin, however, show an advantage for Obama. It's entirely possible that Obama could win the electoral vote -- and thus a second term -- while losing the popular vote.

It's happened before. In 1876, Rutheford B. Hayes won the presidency by a single electoral vote, but lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden by a margin of 250,000, according to FactCheck.org. In 1880, Benjamin Harrison won the electoral vote while losing the popular vote to Grover Cleveland. And perhaps most famously, George W. Bush won an electoral victory in 2000 while losing the popular vote -- barely -- to Al Gore. Oh, Florida.

Here's the real kicker though: An electoral tie is possible, which would have the Republican House of Representatives choose the president and the Democratic-controlled Senate choosing the vice president, potentially leading America to a Romney-Biden White House.

Obviously, it's not an ideal situation. Which raises the question: Should the Electoral College be abolished? Is it time we elect our president by direct, popular vote? Or should we stick with the system we know?

Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pat Schutz November 05, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Eventually I do think the electoral college system should be abolished and each personal vote count, with some sort of back-up for very close votes or ties. However, what needs to be taken care of IMMEDIATELY is for every polling place, every election for President, every state, be involved in a certain type of SAME computer system for entering votes. Every polling place has a different sytem and they sometimes turn into a CHAD of a mess!
Norma Elene Quintrell-Barlow November 05, 2012 at 02:52 PM
def wld be something to check out......the system we have now is so easily open to fraud........the government is FOR THE PEOPLE.......so, lets give it a try!!
Julia November 05, 2012 at 07:32 PM
The electoral college system is very undemocratic! And the popular vote should reflect the % of votes - not a winner take all. We need proportional representation. If a party gets 60% of the votes and the other gets 40%, then the seats should be divided thusly. If a minnor party gets 20% of the votes they should get 20% of the seats. That way everyone's voice is fairly heard. We are badly in need of a change!
chasing3kidz November 07, 2012 at 06:50 AM
They make such a big deal about everybody getting out to vote - indicating that every individual vote is important and counts for something. I think the popular vote is the truer indication of the "people's choice" and the electoral vote is like strategically lining up a shrewd poker hand - if a candidate only wins the electoral vote, it doesn't seem like that would accurately reflect who the majority of US citizens chose for their president. I think the popular vote is the better democratic way to know what the (majority of) people want...and I feel that should be what is most important when electing our leaders.
Duane G. Lorsung November 07, 2012 at 06:53 AM
We have so many "old fashioned" ideas in government --it was OK in the horse and buggy days but with computers --communications etc the way they are this country NEEDS to change lots of things--like "every single person's vote counts" We do NOT need ALL the legislature people to run this government and even down to local offices--TOO much is spent on the election process. We also NEED to change the elected's better health and retirement system along with many OTHER things. One would think that our colleges would present better ways to govern this country before it is too late !! What good are ALL the studies if none are ever implemented??
Duane G. Lorsung November 07, 2012 at 06:53 AM
We have so many "old fashioned" ideas in government --it was OK in the horse and buggy days but with computers --communications etc the way they are this country NEEDS to change lots of things--like "every single person's vote counts" We do NOT need ALL the legislature people to run this government and even down to local offices--TOO much is spent on the election process. We also NEED to change the elected's better health and retirement system along with many OTHER things. One would think that our colleges would present better ways to govern this country before it is too late !! What good are ALL the studies if none are ever implemented??

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