Monthly Archives: December 2016

Let’s End the Electoral College

No state uses the electoral college to elect a governor. Ever wonder why? States go strictly on the popular vote. Electoral college lovers will argue that that just gives certain counties more power (in my state, that would be Marion, Allen, and Hamilton counties). I argue that it makes every citizen count equally. Equality is kind of an American value, isn’t it?

Every four years, we hear tortured explanations of why the electoral college is a good thing. Why the all-wise Founding Fathers decided to use it back in the 1700s. I realize it’s never going to go away. But I’d like to see the popular vote prevail. The winner is the person who gets the most votes. THAT is democracy. The electoral college is NOT democracy.

Majority vote prevails at every other level–city, county, state, US Representatives, Senators–but we use a whole different method for selecting a president. Doesn’t that seem odd? It’s like playing a full basketball game, and if it’s tied at the end, you switch and play Rock-Paper-Scissors.

This electoral college thing treats states on a winner-take-all basis. Most states are already considered in the bag for one candidate or the other. Trump wrote off California, Illinois, and New York–some token campaigning, but voters in those states didn’t really matter TO HIM. Hillary wrote off Texas, Wyoming, Indiana, and most of the deep South. Voters in those states did not matter TO HER. When I vote for a Democrat for president, it’s totally irrelevant, because Indiana is going with the Republican.

In the general election, each candidate focuses on just a handful of “battleground” states. I’m tired of Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Wisconsin being the only states whose citizens really matter. The states where candidates devote their time and resources. I matter, too. So do citizens in Idaho, Montana, and Massachusetts, whether they live in cities or in the country.

There are 4.1 million people in California who voted for Trump. But they might as well have stayed home. Likewise for the 3.8 Texans who voted for Hillary. Consider that in Wisconsin, the TOTAL number of votes cast was under 3 million. But every one of those votes counted A WHOLE LOT. That’s not American.

Over the years, hundreds of proposals have been introduced to reform or end the electoral college (a term which doesn’t appear in the Constitution). Polls consistently show that a wide majority of people favor abolishing the electoral college (75% clear back in 1981). It’s an archaic system, which may have fit the world of the late 1700s, but it’s time to go. Plus, the electoral college is death to third parties. Ross Perot won 19% of the votes in 1992, but received NO electoral votes because he wasn’t strong enough in any single state. I’d love to see a third party candidate who actually stands a snowball’s chance.

Brazil, France, Finland, and Argentina are among the countries which once used an electoral college kind of system, but replaced it with a direct, popular-vote election. In the US, state legislatures appointed US senators until the 1900s, when we switched to a popular vote. So it CAN be done.

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