Thursday, December 15, 2016

HIllary Hoping for Electoral College

The Electoral College votes on Monday for President of the United States. Naturally, this has been a source of angst for Democrats this year. Even moreso than it was in 2000 when Gore had more votes but didn’t win the Electoral vote.

In the final debate, Mr. Trump was asked if he’d accept the results of the election. His answer was that he’d look at it and until then he’d  keep the press in suspense. Hillary was horrified. She said so. ““That’s horrifying,” Mrs. Clinton replied. “Let’s be clear about what he is saying and what that means. He is denigrating — he is talking down our democracy. And I am appalled that someone who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that position.”

Yet, now, it’s the Democrats challenging the results of the election. It’s a slightly different reason, but still questioning the results based on our Constitution.

So how do we elect a President of the United States? It is not entirely based on the popular vote. If you look at an electoral map that breaks it down by states, you can see that bulk of states, even those won by Hillary, are red for Trump. There are two exceptions that stand out. California and Hawaii. Here’s a link where you can see that.

Minnesota, long a stronghold of the Democrats, looks mostly red when you look at the state. Even New York looks like a red state with a few exceptions. All around Manhattan is blue. This is where a large number of people live. Around Buffalo it’s blue, but the vast majority of the state of New York is red.

So if we counted only the popular vote, the election each time would come down to New York and California leading the way all because of the cities.

Another problem was that slaves couldn’t vote, but they still had to be fed, clothed and sheltered. So for the purposes of the elections, they wanted the slaves counted as part of the population despite the slaves not being permitted to vote. It would give the states more representation in government.

Another reason for the electoral college is the electors are usually informed about what goes on in government. So if a particular candidate was considered a dangerous or unsavory character, the electors might catch it where the general population wouldn’t and could prevent that type of person from becoming President. This scenario was actually used in 1800 when Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr were tied. The decision went to the House of Representatives and after 35 tie votes, Alexander Hamilton let it be known he was more in favor of Jefferson despite disagreeing with Jeffersons policies, because he considered Burr unsavory. Oddly enough, Burr later killed Hamilton in a duel.

In the 1880’s states changed from a proportion of the vote to winner takes all in the states. There are two that don’t award winner takes all. Nebraska and Maine. They award electoral votes by districts and the winner of the state takes the other two votes in addition to those they won.

People complain now that those that are uninformed should not be permitted to vote. If the electoral college were eliminated would they then require everyone to take a test of the issues then decide if they can vote? It would be interesting to see who gets to be the judge of who’s “smart enough” to vote.

Since our electoral college is based on the number of representatives and senators, there are 538 electoral votes. 535 for the representation and 3 for the District of Columbia. If neither candidate reaches the 270 (the majority), the House of Representatives then chooses the President and the Senate chooses the Vice President.

We have had 58 elections in this country since the beginning of the country. Twice it’s gone to the House of Representatives (1800 and 1824). Once it went to the full Congress (1878). Twice the one with the popular vote lost the electoral college (2000 and 2016).

We have had close elections that could have been challenged and possibly gone the other way. In 1960, many believe that Nixon won the election against Kennedy because of some election shenanigans going on that may have overturned the election had Nixon challenged it. Nixon thought it was bad for the country to go through, so he did not challenge it. It’s ironic that Nixon took the high road. Now Hillary is in a similar position and her team is holding out hope that enough of the electors can’t stand trump and will vote for her.

Imagine if we changed it to the popular vote and then in the next election, the Republican won the election with the popular vote but the Democrat would have won the electoral vote but since there isn’t an electoral college any longer, would they then call to reinstate the electoral college?  

It’s not likely that there will be enough Trump voters to change the outcome of the election. However, if 37 of the electors don’t vote for Trump as they are pledged to do, it won’t give Hillary the victory because those that have spoken up have said they will vote for others such as John Kasich. So the election would then go to the House where Republicans would decide the outcome. Since the House and Senate are both in Republican control, Trump and Mike Pence would likely still win the election.

You’re welcome to comment.


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