Electoral College Run Amok
One person, One Vote? Not Quite.
I’ve always been in favor of the Electoral college, even after the 2016 election debacle. The reason is that the alternative, one person, one vote, gives overwhelming power to states with the most population. On the face of it, this seems unfair since the majority of population in the United states lives on the coasts, traditionally Democratic. That leaves the central part of the country, generally more conservative, and in states with less population, without a voice.
This doesn’t hold true all the time, of course. States like Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Texas have large populations and generally vote Republican as does Arizona. Then, states like Montana, the Dakotas, and others, have so little population that it would seem their votes would just be tiny drops in the election bucket. To me, it seems that if those states would have a chance at a voice in the election process, the electoral college would be a way of giving every state a chance at controlling their future.
However, the news on 8/21/19, has changed my mind. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/faithless-elector-a-court-ruling-just-changed-how-we-pick-our-president/ar-AAG8tdZ?ocid=sf The 10th Circuit Court has just passed a ruling that an elector in the Electoral College does not have to vote the way his or her state’s popular vote has gone.
Why is this a problem? If for example, my state’s electors are selected by my state’s controlling party, then even if every citizen in the state voted for a Democratic presidential candidate, every elector could vote for the Republican candidate. You see the problem? Now the electoral college would be totally disconnected from the electorate they’re supposed to be representing.
As I did my research, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Electoral_College) I read that the founding fathers actually expected electors to be voted for by voting district. These men (at the time) would not be beholden to any party and would then be free to actually select the candidate for President and Vice President that they deemed best.
However, soon after being established, states began selecting electors that were party based and that pledged to one candidate or another. State law set up requirements for the electors to vote for the candidates that won the state’s general election, even if the elector thought a different candidate was the better choice. Electors who violated their pledge and voted for the non-winning candidate or who abstained for whatever reason, were called “faithless” and there are even now, laws on the books to punish the faithless elector.
The 10th Circuit Court, in a way, is leaning back toward the Founding Father’s initial purpose. For electors to vote for whichever candidate they feel best suited for the offices of President and Vice President. But for electors, as I mentioned above, who aren’t voted for by state districts, but appointed by the ruling state party, the 10th’s ruling creates chaos. It’s entirely possible that the electors will hold to their party lines and despite the state’s popular vote, can elect the candidate from their own party.
How can this be mitigated? By returning to selecting electors by district. Then, electors would be free from constraints of party, at least for the most part. The other part of the mitigation would be to stop making electors pledge to a certain candidate. At that point they could vote their conscience as to who would be the best President and Vice President.
How will this ruling turn out? Will all states move to “faithless” electors? Who can tell? Perhaps it’s a good thing. Maybe electors in 2016 would have voted a different way and we would have had our first woman president. Perhaps it goes poorly and electors will totally disregard their state’s citizens choice and do whatever they please, to even worse effect that we have now. When if ever, will this ruling become the operational norm? And if it does, what will happen?
I don’t know. I feel that our political process is under attack. Stories of election fraud, election mismanagement, and voter suppression have become rampant. What I know and believe is that as a citizen, I need to stay aware of what’s going on in my voting district and my state. I need to speak up when I see something that looks unfair. I need to question my candidates. I need to vote. The days when a person can blithely say they aren’t political is gone. If a person wants free and fair elections, if they want candidates who aren’t out for themselves, that person needs to pull their heads out of their phones and take a hard look at what’s going on. Ignorance isn’t bliss — it could be the death of our country as we know it.