Jun 12

The Electoral College vs. the Popular Vote

In Brief—An examination of the 18th Century Electoral College and the need for replacing it in favor of counting all votes equally.

Fairness Versus an 18th Century Compromise—

Let’s turn our Rip Van Winkle hats backward and travel back to 18th Century Philadelphia. Unlike those good old days of high school, this is going to be a history lesson that I hope will keep you awake to show you just how the benighted worship of the Electoral College is robbing you of the power of your vote.

A personal note before continuing on our trip back in time. I was infected with a love for history by my high school history teacher. I even corresponded with her for a number of years after graduating. One of my regrets is that I didn’t chat with her at that high school reunion before she died. A sorely missed opportunity.

Back to our time travel. Bear with me on this. I’ll make it as painless as possible while telling you that you are being robbed of a vital right.

Vote may not countWhy do we have the Electoral College? Those guys we refer to as our founding fathers were faced with a complaint from the little states, the less populated ones. They were concerned that the big heavily populated states would dominate because the big states had more people. To get the little states to go along with the plan to create a viable country, the delegates decided to give every state, both big and little, only those votes that coincided with the number of representatives they had in congress with a winner-take all system.

Only two states, Maine and Nebraska, permit the votes to be apportioned according to the popular vote. The other forty-eight states stick with the winner-take-all system. That’s where the voter gets robbed. You can see that a big state like California has an unfair advantage over a small state like Wyoming in the winner-take-all system.

Let’s look at an example, California might be 51% Democratic and 49% Republican, but since California is a winner-take all state, the Electoral College says that only the Democratic voters count. By contrast, Wyoming might be 51% Republican and 49% Democratic, but Wyoming will be counted as Republican. Does that sound fair? If all the votes were counted as being equal, as would be case with the Popular Vote system, then the Democratic and Republican voters would get their rightful share in an election. One person, one vote.

Guess what? The Republican-dominated states, large and small—AND the Republican Party platform—say “No way will we support a Popular Vote system.” Since a change in the constitution requires three-quarters of the states to agree to dump the Electoral College system, it is very unlikely that that a fair change will come about. By the way, the Democratic Party supports the Popular Vote system.

History Central provides a clear explanation of the Electoral College system. Sounds reasonable unless you look at it in action.

There is another way Democratic voters may be robbed. After progressive Democrat George McGovern almost became the party nominee, the fat cat elite and more conservative party “pols” realized that they had to keep the party from becoming “too liberal.” They added Super-delegates composed of—you guessed it—insider elites and conservative party “pols.” Super-delegates make up twenty percent of the delegates who will pick the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. If it looks like a progressive could become the nominee, the Super-delegates can step in to save the day and keep the party from becoming “too liberal.”

If you look up the definition of “conservative” you will find that it means in essence that a conservative is one who clings to the past. This, of course, describes the Republican Party and their platform as well as the Democratic insiders who want to keep control of the Democratic Party.

So, if you’re wondering about your vote, you can thank the founding fathers for the Electoral College and you can thank the ruling elite in the Democratic Party for Super-delegates. If you are a conservative who believes you are helping keep America “great,” you won’t be surprised if the country you love becomes another second-rate failed state. On the other hand, if you are a progressive who wants America to boldly march into the future, you need to work hard to change the system.

The journey of a thousand miles, begins with the first step.


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    • Donna on June 22, 2016 at 19:27

    when you mention Popular Vote system, are you referring to the National Popular Vote campaign? National Popular Vote is one attempt to modify the electoral college and has achieved some minimum support. It is an interstate compact in which the signing states agree to give all of their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote. The compact will only go into effect when the number of involved state’s electoral votes total a majority. NPV has about 33% of the needed states that have entered the compact. Unfortunately, it is likely that the “little” less populated states (Republican) will sign on to the compact.
    I just hope that someone finds a solution. To me, it’s a disgrace to have the person with the most popular votes lose the election as in the Gore -Bush race.

      • Don Bay on June 26, 2016 at 15:51

      Dumping the Electoral College that’s in effect now requires two-thirds of the states to agree that the popular vote will replace the Electoral College. So far, only Maine and Nebraska apportion the votes at the convention according to the number of voters who have voted either Democrat or Republican. That’s a state situation which is wholly different from the national vote that is controlled by the Constitution.

      Although the Democratic Party supports the Popular Vote, the Republican Party opposes changing to the Popular Vote system. They’ll be dragged kicking and screaming about any change to the outmoded Electoral College system as far into the future as can be imagined.

      As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, “conservatism” is defined as clinging to the past. That clearly applies to the Republican Party.

      It must be noted that the Supreme Court conservatives stepped in to save George W. Bush’s bacon when it wasn’t necessary. At least as bad is the fact that the conservative decision is henceforth NOT to be cited as precedent for the future. For all intents and purposes, Bush vs. Gore has disappeared into a legal black hole.

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