Published November 25, 2012
Electoral College past its primeGERY GERST
Despite news hype, no president is elected until 538 Electoral College members vote in December and the Senate counts those votes in January. The delay in electoral voting and counting traces to 1788 with time needed for transport to state capitals, then the nation’s capital, over challenging roads; it’s anachronistic now. Further, three times since the Civil War, electors gave us a president that lost the popular vote. Despite popular majority for other elected offices, we still surrender our collective will to 538 virtually unknown people with the power to override us. There are no qualifications to be an elector except being chosen by a party and not being neither congressman nor traitor. Despite state laws to the contrary, about 158 have ignored the popular vote but weren’t punished. Unknowns vote for us. Why? Are they smarter than we? At best their votes echo the majority redundantly; at worst they disenfranchise many voters. Past electors told my students they’d vote against the popular will if we, the people, made a “bad choice.” Also vexing is that a candidate needs only 270 electoral votes to win. Thus, one only needs a bare majority of the 11 most populated states. The voters of 39 remaining states, D.C. and 49.9 percent of the big 11 don’t matter. Fewer than half the nation’s voters can choose our executives. The core of democratic elections, majority rule with each citizen having one vote of equal weight, is trampled by the Electoral College. Time for a change, now.