Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Should the Electoral College be Eliminated?

There has been a lot of talk lately about the Electoral College in Presidential elections. Naturally, some of this is sour grapes because for the second time in 5 elections, the candidate with the most votes did not win the election. First in 2000 when Al Gore got more of the popular vote but lost the electoral vote, and again this  year when Hillary Clinton got nearly 2.5 million more votes than Donald Trump but lost the electoral vote.

This years election has been very charged up with protests all across the country, and even some celebrities put out an ad telling Republican electors to be “heroes” by not voting for Trump. The press, naturally, has been calling it a non story but reporting it every day for the past two weeks and the pundits have included it  in their nightly programs and the Sunday news shows. The results ended up with Hillary losing  four votes and Trump gaining two votes.

The electoral college is made up of 538 votes. These are real people. They are chosen in both parties in the election. The 538 are the total of the numbers in the House (438) and the numbers in the Senate (100).

Those electors are supposed to vote the will of the people but they are not required to by federal law. The group that is chosen is based on who won the state in the election. For example. Michigan has 16 electoral votes. Trump had roughly 10,000 more votes in Michigan than Hillary, so he won the state. The electors chosen to vote came from the Republican side. However, in California, Hillary got more of the popular vote so she won the 55 electoral votes for that state. California then sent the 55 electors from the Democrat party to do the voting. There are two states that divide up their electoral votes. Maine and Nebraska, which divide their votes by congressional district.

The Electoral College was created at the Constitutional Convention and has had several changes since. There were problems that the Electoral college were supposed to solve. First they wanted the President to be chosen by the Congress. They backed off on that because the Congress could be made up of a class or select group of people. If we look at how hard it is to remove incumbents from office it made sense not to have the President chosen by Congress.

Then it was suggested that he be chosen by the citizens. This became a problem because heavy populated areas would be choosing the President and the smaller states or sporadically populated would be left out. The southern states didn’t have the population that the northern states had. They wanted their slaves counted for their population, despite them claiming that slaves were property rather than people.

Even in the north, small states such as Delaware and Rhode Island have small populations and wouldn’t have the same weight in a Presidential election. Then Roger Sherman of Connecticut came up with a compromise called the Connecticut Compromise. The Electoral College was born.

There could also be a problem if a person were elected but died before taking office or a person with bad character. As an example, Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr. At the time Burr was the sitting Vice President. But imagine if he had just been chosen the new Vice President, but not yet in office at the time of the duel. Had Burr been charged and convicted of murder, he’d be the incoming Vice President as a murderer.

While the electors are supposed to vote based on the will of the voters and how they voted in their state, they are not required to by federal law. However, the states have enacted laws that make it nearly impossible for them to vote any other way.

This is in direct contrast to the purpose of the electors. While they are supposed to vote for their candidate, there are legitimate reasons for them to have that ability to choose someone else. Imagine if Hillary had been elected this year. Also imagine that a day or two after the election the Justice Department indicted her for the personal server and subsequent loss of state secrets, which many thought she should have been. This would be a reason to not put her in office. While not convicted, this could be reason to prevent her from becoming President.

The protests this year are due to people’s impression of Trump that is mainly press driven (more to be written on this at a later date) among other things. We have had Presidents and candidates that have used drugs (Obama admitted it), alcohol (Bush admitted to it), sexual assault (Clinton didn’t admit to it, but settled the lawsuit for $850,000 and loss of his license to practice law), and others.

Maine and Nebraska may have the best plan for the electoral voting by having them count according to how each congressional district votes with the additional two awarded to the winner of the state. That would not have gotten Hillary to the needed 270 though.

Another way may be to apportion the electoral votes based on the popular vote in each state. Michigan was won by Trump by just 10,000 votes. Had they given out the votes based on popular vote, Michigan’s 16 votes would have been split 8 for Hillary, 8 for Trump.

Going through each state and dividing up the electoral votes by percentages received of the popular vote, Hillary still doesn’t win. It would be closer, but she still doesn’t win. The count would be 272-266 in favor of Trump. It would only be worse for Hillary using the Maine/Nebraska method of districts and the winner gaining the extra two votes.

The difficult part of any system is to find people that will honor their word and their reason for what they are doing. Think about it. There were 19 Republicans that started this process and in the first debate, Bret Baier asked the candidates to raise their hands if they were not committing to back the eventual winner of the Republican nomination. There was one person in mind that it was asked for. Donald Trump. There was one person that raised his hand. Donald Trump. Every other Republican pledged to back the eventual nominee regardless of whom it would be. A week or so later Trump made the pledge too. Ted Cruz wouldn’t honor his pledge. Even at the convention, he was booed off the stage for not backing Trump. Carly Fiorina never publicly backed Trump. Jeb Bush didn’t until very late. John Kasich never backed him and stayed in the race up to the convention despite being mathematically eliminated and then wouldn’t attend the convention even though it’s in his home state.

This only proves that the founding fathers at the Constitutional Convention were right. Trump is not one of the good old boys of government so he wouldn’t have been elected if Congress was to choose. Yet, on the matter of the honoring his word, Trump did. He didn’t commit to something at first. But he did later when he was reasonably sure. He’s also proven it after the election.  He said he’d save the jobs at Carrier or they’d pay a tax. Before even being inaugurated, he saved nearly 1,000 jobs at Carrier by getting them to change their mind about moving their operation to Mexico.

States punish electors if they don’t vote the way that they are supposed to vote. Yet, the voter’s job is to do just that under extraordinary circumstances. This election though, should not have had the electors changing their votes. The surprise is that while the media was playing up that protestors were protesting Trump, four of them switched from Hillary.

The left is calling for the end of the Electors. Electors are called for in the Constitution. The one thing that that shows is that the second amendment was in danger from Hillary Clinton. To the liberals, the Constitution is only worthwhile when it benefits them. In reality the Constitution is a document that puts restrictions on government and protects the people. The left exists to put restrictions on the people. Most certainly in the case of eliminating the second amendment and the Electoral College. 

You’re welcome to comment.


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