I realize the US is a Republic and not a Democracy, and I don’t want to vote on every single issue, but I feel in electing those officials, the person with the most votes should be the winner without any possible/obvious loopholes.
The problem with that is that the election is supposed to be determined by not who has the most votes, but rather by who has the majority (at least 50.000001%) of the votes. Even if one candidate has ten times the votes of the runner-up, if he has only 50% of the votes he doesn’t win. That way the person elected President really is the popular candidate (in theory, at least), rather than some guy who only got 2% of the votes being elected because every other candidate only got 1% each. It’s the difference between having the President who most people chose, or the President chosen by the most people.
The majority vote process runs into trouble, though, when more than two popular candidates are campaigning. In a close-run three-person race, it would be easy to have no candidate win more than 40% of the votes. With four or five popular candidates, it’s virtually certain that none of them will get a majority. The electoral college does help in that it usually minimizes the less popular candidates. The candidates that it “weeds out” wouldn’t have won anyway, and would only serve to draw votes away from the others. It’s a way to still get a majority vote, even when otherwise there wouldn’t have been one. And if one of the candidates does get the majority of popular votes, then he should also get the majority in the electoral college. Assuming that the electors act in good faith.
If the election was determined directly by how many voting citizens chose each candidate, then you would often end up with no candidate getting a majority. In which case the House of Representatives gets to choose who the President is (thus taking on the same role as the electoral college), and it would be like the 2000 Presidential election over and over again.
I suppose that you could have the election by popular vote, and then if no candidate had a majority then there would be a second election with only the two top-scoring candidates. That way the people would be acting as their own vast electoral college, but it would be one that was only formed during elections in which it was needed rather than functioning in every election. With only two possible choices, that would make it almost certain that one or the other would get a clear majority. This plan would not have been practicable back in 1784, but should be possible now.
Of course, what would be even better would be if we could do without any President or government at all, and just do what needed to be done properly and conscientiously out of a sense of social duty, but sadly Marx and Engels and their pals apparently didn’t get out much among real people very often when they came up with those ideals. . .
Any alternative to the current system is going to involve some major and drastic re-writing of the Constitution. Which is not likely to be a popular notion; just look at the popularity of Bush’s suspension of some parts of the Constitution, even though those are supposed to be (we can hope) just temporary suspensions.