The Electoral College - Undemocratic Now; Undemocratic Always

An Open Letter to Bay Ridge Dems

Author(s):
Mr. Stephen Harrison
Dear Fellow Members:

In 2000 Al Gore lost the presidency but won the popular vote by 540,000 votes. Why? The electoral college system. This year Hillary lost the presidency but is closing in on winning the popular vote by a quarter million votes. Why? Again because of the electoral college system.

This means that in 12 of the twenty years from 2001 thru 2020 America will have been ruled by a minority president, i.e., a president who was rejected by a majority of Americans.
This anti-democratic system must stop because quite simply - its not democratic.

A good explanation of the rationale for the electoral college as adopted by our forefathers is given in the attached explanation from Factcheck.org.

In sum, contrary to what many believe, the EC was not intended to balance power between populous states and the small ones. That problem was brilliantly handled by the establishment of a two-chamber congress. Representation in the House is proportionate to the population of each State. Obviously, the smaller states are overwhelmed there by the larger. But the Senate mandates two Senators from each State regardless of size. So Alaska, with 1 representative in the House, nevertheless has two Senators - the same as California which has 53 representatives.

In contrast, as shown in the factcheck article, the EC, used to elect a president, has nothing to do with the big state/little state issue. The EC is actually rooted in white male elitism. It was actually designed as a check on democracy because the founders - all white men- did not trust the rag-tag population to elect the president. According to Hamilton, the EC was designed to ensure that the president is chosen “by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to” a president. In other words the voice of the populace is, at best, advisory. The EC system was designed to preserve “the sense of the people” .

Each state chooses how to cast its electors votes are allocated and now all but 2, Maine and Nebraska mandate that the candidate with the most votes gets all the electors. But that does not make the electoral votes proportionate because the number of electors in a state is equal to the number of senators plus the number of representative. So California gets 55 electors (2 senators plus 53 reps and Alaska gets 3 (2 senators plus 1 rep). But that works out to 1 elector for each 244,000 citizens in Alaska and only 1 for each 735,000 in California. In short, each Alaskan has three times the voting power of each Californian. Why? Because the number of Senators is constant across the Board, so the larger the State the smaller its voting power in the electoral college. I for one believe my vote should count as much as any other American. After all, if one person one vote means anything it must mean that.

This atrocity must change because it is a sin against democracy. It is an insult to all Americans.

I am aware that this has been proposed before and rejected. But that’s because its roots have been misunderstood as a search for democratic balance rather than the elitist power grab that it actually was.

Let’s talk.

Steve Harrison

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