Is it time to do away with the Electoral College? A "RISING TO THE CHALLENGE" Entry
|Should Every Vote Count?
In the last Presidential election, Barrak Obama won with a decisive 61.2% of the Electoral College votes but only 51.3% of the popular vote. In 2000, George Bush won with 51.4% of the Electoral College's votes but failed to get a majority of the voting public's support.
This hardly seems in keeping with the popular concept that "we, the people" elect our President and begs the question: Is it time to do away with the Electoral College?
The Constitution of the United States sets forth a process whereby the President and Vice President are elected by "electors" who are "appointed in such Manner as the State Legislature thereof may direct." These representatives have become known collectively as "The Electoral College."
It's important to understand that the United States was founded as a Republic. A republic and a democracy are identical in every aspect except one. In a republic the sovereignty is in each individual person. In a democracy the sovereignty is in the group.
At the time of our founding fathers, the electoral system was seen as a reasonable compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens. Under the Electoral College system, each state has the same number of electoral votes as they have representatives in Congress thus ensuring that smaller states would have an equal voice in the election of the President. The founders trusted that the electors would be able to insure that only a qualified person became President. They believed that the electoral process would ensure no one would be able to manipulate the citizenry.
Today, many continue to support the Electoral College system but there's a growing number who question why we elect every other official by popular vote – but not the President and Vice President.
There is concern that eliminating the Electoral College would give the majority of voting power to populous states. This would mean that smaller states would get less attention from presidential candidates in a campaign. Since sitting presidents and senators are often presidential candidates, populous states would likely get additional consideration in appropriations and appointments from presidents and senators. You have to question this argument; how is this different than what we see today? The majority of attention goes to the states with the most electoral votes which (except for the two votes given every state by virtue of Senatorial representation) is based on population.
In every election, a few states are too close to call. These are known as "swing states," and candidates pay a great deal of attention to them. Which states will swing changes every four years. The parties currently write off the more than 40 states (plus the District of Columbia) that they know they either can't win or can't lose. Since all but two states have a winner take all electoral slate, wouldn't a popular vote dictate that every state and every vote was equally important?
The Electoral College is written into the US Constitution. Over the past 200 years, over 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College. There have been more proposals for Constitutional amendments on changing the Electoral College than on any other subject. To date, only the twelfth and fourteenth amendments have passed changing the electoral process.
Since doing away with the College would weaken the voice of smaller states, it's considered unlikely such an amendment would ever pass. But, that choice is one that "we, the people" can vote on.
Perhaps it's time for America to become a democracy.
An entry for "RISING TO THE CHALLENGE "
Task: Write an Editorial.