US Elections

Should the Electoral College be Abolished – Yes



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Eject the electors. Supplant the super delegates, too. The founding fathers masterfully crafted the Constitution. This document, the supreme law of the land, has served as a reliable blueprint, to guide our country, for nearly 220 years. That era's greatest minds, including Franklin, Madison and Jefferson, created a government of checks and balances. Jefferson insisted on a Bill of Rights to protect individuals.

Yet, a misguided reluctance to let the people directly elect the President mars one of the world's most historical documents. Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Paper 68 envisions the Electoral College as an insurance policy, protecting, we the people, against ourselves. He lauds the system for guaranteeing "that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications". I respectfully disagree and move that the Electoral College by immediately abolished, replaced with the winner being decided by popular vote. The present procedure smacks of unfairness, oligarch temptations and possible voter disenfranchisement.

Electoral College proponents argue that it levels the playing field. Their major bread and butter talking point is that the smaller states need to be propped up. The bigger states would swallow up Wyoming, Alaska and Rhode Island, during the election process, without it, they reason.

History and reality contradict this philosophy. To hold the new nation together, the Constitutional Conventions adopted many compromises. Responding to smaller state delegations threatening to bolt the process, the framers created the Senate; the upper house of a bi cameral legislature. Each state was granted two members, initially appointed.

While Elector apportionment, one per Representative, plus the two Senators, seems fair, a closer look reveals that some larger states get the shaft. The 2000 Census lists Wyoming's population at 493,782. The state carries 3 Electors. Dividing that state's population, by the number of Electors, awards Wyoming one Elector per 164,594 citizens.

Meanwhile 18,976,457 people lived in New York State. Do the math, here, dividing that number by 31 Electors. In the Empire State, one Elector is worth 612,143! Using this system, nobody can deny that a Wyoming resident's vote is more valuable than a New Yorker's. This reeks of voter disenfranchisement. In a popular vote count, equality reigns; one person, one vote.

Electoral College supporters also subscribe to a wide spread belief that the system diversifies the campaign. They claim it forces candidates to visit places like Montana and address issues unique to the sparser populated states. "I don't want Presidential campaigns serving only big cities like New York and Los Angeles", a friend once opined. The implication clearly suggests that popular vote elections will shut out millions of neglected citizens.

Contrarily, I'm convinced that eliminating the Electoral College would improve the process. Think about how many voters, in California, stayed home in 2004, realizing that John Kerry would win big, there. Candidates often concentrate on a handful of competitive states. Campaigns would become more eclectic than ever as political masterminds poll every small town and village, in America, looking for that edge.

A popular vote would unlock decades old bastions of partisan support. Republicans would no longer concede large cities to their Democratic competitors while Democrats would push the GOP in the heartland. Remember, every vote counts!

When the anomaly of a candidate winning the Electoral College, but losing the popular vote, occurs, proponents cavalierly accept it. Quincy Adams, Hayes, Harrison and Bush were all elected after being outvoted. The Bush/Gore fiasco was decided by the United States Supreme Court. In my opinion, the nation would have been badly bloodied if the election had been flipped and awarded to Al Gore. Then again, Gore's plurality affirmed his right to challenge the result. Courts, renegade delegates or the House of Representatives should never pick the President at voter expense.

Most ominously, electors are not bound, by law, to vote for their state's winner. Imagine if Ohio's 20 Electors defected and ratified John Kerry, instead of George W. Bush! This scenario is certainly far fetched and unlikely. Yet, delegate betrayal isn't unprecedented. It has happened. Examples of "faithless electors", not casting for their pledged candidate, are well documented. The motive is usually a symbolic protest. No recorded incidents have directly impacted a Presidential race, yet.

Partisan divide and rancor roils the American landscape. While reasons are complex, I believe the Election of 2000 fanned the flames. The manner of Bush's ascent, to the White House, and his botched, arrogant reaction, has entrenched supporters and instigated political enemies.

Americans' knowledge of the Constitution is shamefully deficient. Yet, any move to change, or amend it is blasphemous. By providing a purposefully difficult process, the founding fathers left future generations a mechanism to change it. The Constitution's 27 amendments, aside from Prohibition, generally enhance our freedoms. True, the process is agonizing, but, it should be.

Do you realize that most absentee ballots are never counted? This obviously includes our fighting men and women overseas. Seniors, living in nursing homes and retirement facilities, often need to vote absentee ballot. This amounts, in my opinion, to a slap in the face of our bravest young patriots and most loyal voters. The popular vote would eliminate this disservice.

The time is ripe for change. State legislatures and the US Congress need to begin this process, now. It's not a political issue. Republicans feel that any Democratic supporter of repealing the Electoral College is a "sore loser". If the situation was reversed, in 2000, Bush backers would be howling about election injustices. This is a proposal all voters should embrace. This sacred power rightfully belongs to citizens, not shadowy delegates or electors. Plus, Samuel Tilden will posthumously thank us! In 1888, he earned 51% of the vote, to Rutherford Hayes' 48%, the exact margin of President Bush's victory in 2004. Ironically, and with woeful inaccuracy, Bush called this margin "a mandate!" In 1888, the electors picked Hayes.

 

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