FROM THE LEFT

Not every vote is created equal

We are a nation governed by a minority of voters today due to compromises we had to make in our Constitution to get enough states to approve it in 1787. The main culprit is the Electoral College, which we need to have a national educational program on, in order to help voters understand why it was created and why it is not needed today.

The compromise that had to be made to give each state two senators makes the Senate the most undemocratic legislative body in the world, hence, oblivious to the needs and desires of the majority of people. This is reflected in polls that show a majority of voters want Congress to pass sensible background checks on gun buyers, but Congress feels it does not need to act. The same can be said for healthcare and other issues.

Donald Trump would be just a footnote in our history without the Electoral College, a loser of a presidential race. So how did we end up with the Electoral College?

At the constitutional convention in 1787 in Philadelphia, the question of how the president should be elected was a hot topic.  James Wilson from Pennsylvania moved to elect the president by a direct popular vote. James Madison from Virginia objected — the North’s larger population would dominate the South in every presidential election.

Madison proposed a plan that would allow the Southern slave-holding states to count their enormous slave population towards the election of the president. The constitutional convention had already agreed to give the slave-holding states more representatives in the House of Representatives with the 3 /5ths clause, counting every three out of five slaves in order to determine the number of representatives allocated to each state.

Madison’s plan effectively created the Electoral College, in which each state would have as many votes as number of electors equal to the total of their senators and representatives. If the presidential election was conducted through the popular vote, then slaves, not being able to vote, would have no impact on the election. With Madison’s artificially created gimmick, the slave states would have some 60 more votes in the Electoral College.

The Constitution does not use the phrase Electoral College, instead it says that each state shall appoint electors “equal to the number of representatives in Congress, including two senators.”

The Electoral College is skewed toward the smaller states. California, with 40 million people, has 2 senators while the 21 smallest states have 40 million people and 42 senators, hence 40 more electoral votes. California has one senator for every 20 million people while the 21 smallest states have one senator for under 500,000 people.

In the last election, Florida voters cast 9,165,556 votes for president. With 29 electoral votes they had 1 electoral vote for every 316,000 votes cast. Alaska voters cast 246,588 votes and with 3 electoral votes, they had 1 electoral vote for every 82,999 votes cast. Every vote cast in Alaska had nearly four times the power of a vote cast in Florida with the Electoral College.

On the national level with 133 million voters casting ballots and 538 electoral votes each electoral vote should represent some 250,000 voters in a perfect world.

But the seven smallest states and the District of Columbia all have one electoral vote for less than 100,000 votes cast.

It became a non-issue for a long time because it did not rear its ugly head from 1888, when Benjamin Harrison was selected over Grover Cleveland, until 2000 when George W. Bush became president despite losing the popular vote by 540,000 votes. It struck again in 2016 when the Electoral College met and named Donald Trump president, who had about 3 million fewer votes than his main opponent.

It is the only election in the world that does not determine the winner by popular vote. We need to make every vote count the same, whether in Clermont or New York, New York.

Marvin Jacobson

Please follow and like us:
FROM THE LEFT-The Daily Commercial: Not every vote is created equal
Tagged on:             

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *