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The Latest Scheme to Rig the Electoral College

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While the United States proudly proclaims itself to be the leading democracy in the world, the Constitution of the United States does not provide for the actual democratic popular elections of the president by the American voting public and is instead based on one interpretation of using "electors" to choose the actual winner.

This has resulted in a system that is heavily biased in favor of electing a Republican Party candidate winner. Three times in American history, 1876. 1888 and in 2000, Republican candidates lost the popular vote but were elected president by the electoral college. No Democrat has ever lost the popular vote and has been elected president. All three electoral college-only winners have been Republicans.

Now a new scheme on the part of some Republicans is to put a constitutional amendment on California ballot that would divide the state's electoral votes by Congressional district to the winner of a presidential election while all other states would continue with the present "winner take all" system.

Such a new scheme would only further bias the electoral college system against any future Democratic Party presidential candidate and likely result in even more elections in which Republican candidates lose the popular vote, but are elected president by the electoral college system. Now some California state Democrats are offering a counter-proposal constitutional amendment that allows for the popular vote of a president or else awards the electoral votes to the national popular vote winner. But a majority of the U.S. states would have to eventually agree to such a proposal, which could take many years to ever take effect, if ever.

Any state proposals in California only complicate an already flawed system of electing a president that favors Small Republican leaning states such as Wyoming which receive a disproportionate strength in the current electoral college system which means that with just 3 electoral votes(based on 1 Representative in Congress and two U.S. Senators), 1 electoral vote in Wyoming represents just 186,000 persons. In larger states such as California with 36.4 million persons and 55 electoral votes, 1 electoral vote is represented by at least 660,000 persons. All of this violates any sort of "one man, one vote" standards. 1 vote in little states such as Wyoming are equal to the votes of 3 persons in California under the current electoral college system.

And things become even more complicated when regional factors are figured in. The strength of the Republican Party is in the South and parts of the West. In 2008 it is highly possible that a Democratic presidential candidate will fail to win even one state in the South, which may make a win in the electoral college very difficult despite a possible national popular vote plurality.

In the 2000 election, Al Gore failed to become president despite winning the popular vote because of a rare loss in his home state of Tennessee in the South. Further normally Democratic West Virginia became recently influenced by Christian Right politics and Florida was a narrow loss for Gore due to a list of felons that did not use Social Security numbers for validation, so disqualified a large pool of African American voters with only similar names, accounting for a slim loss by only hundreds of votes and the entire 2000 national election.

In any normal presidential election the actual winner is actually picked by one single state, Ohio, is yet another problem. No candidate, Republican or Democrat has been elected president in modern times without winning this critical swing state that seems to mirror the entire U.S. in social makeup.

The current electoral college system was not reformed after the 2000 election fiasco. In 2008, this flawed system could again yield some very unhappy results for Democrats if they should win the popular vote, but lose the election in the electoral college for the fourth time in American history.


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Rating: 2.8/5 (9 votes cast)


Comments (9)

FMK:

"While the United States proudly proclaims itself to be the leading democracy in the world, the Constitution of the United States does not provide for the actual democratic popular elections of the president by the American voting public and is instead based on one interpretation of using "electors" to choose the actual winner."

Thanks for the sixth grade civics lesson.


"No candidate, Republican or Democrat has been elected president in modern times without winning this critical swing state that seems to mirror the entire U.S. in social makeup. "

JFK didn't win Ohio in 1960.

BfC:

And here I thought that the US was a Representative Republic instead of a pure democracy.

And, you do know the history of the Electoral College? We "elect" representatives to elect the president--always has been. Back 200+ years ago--it was impossible to run a "national campaign".

Also, the fact that it is a combination of legislative and senatorial vote counts to elect a president was not accidental--it was part of the founding of the US. Small population states did not want unchecked power by the few states with large populations.

If you are concerned about the Electoral College--then you think we should abolish the US Senate too? The vote per Senator ratios between small and large states is even worse.

Really weird--changing to a proportional representation system for California (the largest single population in the US) is a bad thing when the person complaining about the current system is not representing a proportional vote?

Lastly, how many votes did Gore and Bush II receive in the 2000 election?

Nobody knows. Are you aware that, just in my state of California, there where about 1,000,000 votes uncounted in the presidential election (absentee votes)? Simply because they did not matter and it would "cost too much money" (thank you CA Secretary of State--Gore won by more votes than were uncounted).

You think that the whole fiasco of recounting ballots (or not) in Florida was bad--imagine what a 50 state recount would look like--where there was only a few hundred votes different.

Those tricky old white guys in white wigs were a pretty sharp bunch. Their system is still holding up over two hundred years later...

By the way, I have been thinking--what countries are the ones with the oldest continuous/uninterrupted/relatively-unchanged form of government.

The two oldest I can think of are Switzerland Land (~mid 1600's? and the US, late 1700's). Every other (long lasting) government/country has had their methods of representation significantly changed since their founding (I may be wrong here--really is question that I have been thinking about for awhile).

BfC:

I should clarify that Mr. Gore won by more votes "in California" than would have changed the outcome "in California" under the current electoral college rules of California.

DSkinner:

This has resulted in a system that is heavily biased in favor of electing a Republican Party candidate winner. Three times in American history, 1876. 1888 and in 2000, Republican candidates lost the popular vote but were elected president by the electoral college.

Those founding fathers truly are amazing. They rigged the system for a party that wouldn't appear for 70 years. That's even better than anything Rove's done.

The Founding Fathers had never envisioned that any one single political party would have a special advantage built into the electoral college system to win several elections while losing the popular vote. And each disputed election in 1876, 1888 and 2000 should have created some reform of the system.

By simply eliminating the 2 extra votes that all states receive for their Senators, and instead only awarding the electoral votes based on the actual population that gives a certain fixed mumber of seats in Congress might be an easy fix for this broken system. That system would allow for the one electoral vote in Wyoming to equal the 515,000 population which compares to 1 electoral vote equal to 660,000 voters in each California Congressional district. That is far better than the current system which gives Wyoming 1 elector for every roughly every 180,000 residents, while in California the ratio is 1 elector for every 660,000 residents. No vote in a smaller state should have three times the weight of a vote in a larger state. That's the same as allowing people in small states to cast three votes and persons in large states, only allowed one vote in the electoral college contest.

The California constitutional amendment proposal to divide up the state's electoral votes by Congressional district would only be fair if all states used the same system as well. If all states only awarded electors by Congressional districts, then that would be a fair system. But the idea is merely a partisan one by some Republicans who hope to blunt the large electoral vote of a single state, and not a serious or honest proposal for electoral college reform.

All elections should be open and fair in the U.S. with no one party given a special advantage to hang onto to power while losing the popular vote three times in U.S. history since 1876. Usually only Communist-type systems are based on hanging onto power by a single party despite the will of the people, not that of self proclaimed democratic states like the U.S. In the 2000 election, the more than 1/2 million more persons who voted for Al Gore were unimportant because of the bias problems with the electoral college that make it far more difficult for a Democratic candidate to fairly compete in a U.S. presidential election. The electoral college should be an honest system where the will of the people is best honored.

BfC:

Paul Hosoon says:

"The Founding Fathers had never envisioned that any one single political party would have a special advantage built into the electoral college system to win several elections while losing the popular vote...."

Wow--Mr Hooson is now not only a mind reader, he can do it 230+ years later, and be completely wrong too... A trifecta!

Please read your sixth grade history again. The voters elected "electors"... Those funny guys who would go to Washington every 4 years and, oh--I don't know, was it "elect the president"??? Nowhere does our founding documents ever state that the president would be elected by popular vote.

Also, the Founding Fathers did not trust the "voters" to elect the president. They wanted "representatives" of the voters to do this because there was no way, 230 years ago, that the voters could ever get timely information about who was running for president.

Again, something about that thingy that we are a "Representative Republic" and not a pure democracy.

And, if they even thought that a majority vote (or even a plurality of the vote) would be required to elect a president--they knew that the Electoral College" was rigged to over represent small population states and prevent the "tyranny of the majority" something that was commented on by Alexis de Tocqueville 170+ years ago--without the benefit of the Internet or Wikipeidia.

So, Mr. Hooson, please don't tell us any more about your knowledge of American constitutional history... My education was pretty poor (California born and educated in a poor school district)--but, where in the heck did you pick up your's?

How about this--tell us what system you would like instead, point to a country (or several) that already have this form of "direct democracy" you apparently want--and discuss the pros and cons of that system.

BfC:

And, I guess I need to add--again for the reading impaired--that there where 1,000,000 votes for president in California that did not matter either (and most of those were absentee ballots--which tend to be Republican and Military; which I am neither--most absentee ballots are conservative and you don't here me whining about about it 8 years later and ginning up scenarios on how JFK, Carter, and Clinton should have lost)...

You think Florida was bad--I still challenge Mr. Hooson to describe what it would have been like to recount 50 states + absentee ballots.

In the end, I find it extremely funny that non-Republicans / non-Independents keep bringing up the election in 2000, which was run under a Democratic President, audited by 99 or so pure Democratic appointed federal prosecutors (whom Pres. Clinton appointed after he fired all 99 previous prosecutors at the same time at the beginning of his term), a Democratic weighted DOJ (7+ years of big "D" president), and 8 years of big "D" appointed Federal and Supreme Court Judges--and they still could not swing the election to "elect" the sitting Vice President of the same party...

Incompetence of Corruption I say~

SCSIwuzzy:

DSkinner,
Didn't you know, Rove can travel in time and space?

bennydtown:

It should be noted that Democratic activists attempted to pass similar initiatives in North Carolina and Colorado in previous years. Both initiatives failed, but they demonstrate that the motivation to use such schemes to generate short-term advantage exists in both parties.

While I agree that there is inherent unfairness in the fact that proportionately fewer small state voters are represented by a single elector, eliminating that advantage without some counter adjustment would also be unfair.

Due to the state-by-state nature of our system, without the bonus electors for the senate seats, a bare majority in the eleven largest states is enough to carry the White House. The fact that this system has never produced such a scenario says more about common campaigning strategy than it does about any perceived advantage for small states.

By the way I am a Democrat, and I am certain that the Dem margin of victory next year is going to be far wider than the 20 or so electors this change would throw to the Reps.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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