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2016 Electoral College Worked as Designed

Ever since it became clear that President-Elect Trump had a commanding lead in the Electoral College (306 votes to 232 for Mrs. Clinton) the main stream media has been focused on the “growing Hillary Clinton advantage in the 2016 Presidential Election popular vote”.

Look a little deeper and it becomes clear the advantage is coming from entirely from Southern California where we are still counting ballots today.

Trump’s voter tally exceeds Mrs. Clinton’s in the 13 battleground states where the Electoral College was won and lost.

Why We Still Need the Electoral College

The Founding Fathers designed the Electoral College to assuage the fears of the smaller states that they would be reduced to serfdom by the big states – New York and Virginia at that time.

Without those assurances the US Constitution would never have been ratified by 9 of the original 13 states.

In the 2016 Election, the Electoral College worked exactly as it was designed.

It balanced the interests of the large coastal, consumer-driven cities — for example Los Angeles and New York — with the interests of the smaller, producer cities and rural farming and industrial populations — for example the Southern Appalachian Mountain region.

But the founders had a second purpose in fashioning the Electoral College: establishing an “institution” that would blunt an impulse toward “mob rule”.

Fact is – setting aside nearly a century of revisionist history — the Founding Fathers did not believe in universal suffrage. In the earliest days of the Republic not everyone could read or write – i.e. participate in the political debate.

Even Thomas Jefferson, the original Democrat, believed only a white man who owned property – i.e. a doctor/lawyer, a shop keeper or a farmer owning at least 5 acres — should be eligible to vote.

States Elect President

The Founding Fathers believed the job of electing a President was too important to be left to the people.

Both under the original Constitution and the 12th Amendment, that task was delegated to states – not the citizenry.

Popularly elected members of the state legislatures — the more respectable, reasonable men of substance and public repute – were given the responsibility to select electors to the Electoral College.

The practice of pledging an individual state’s Electoral College electors to a candidate based on a popular vote of that state’s citizens evolved as the nation matured. Literacy became common place and the right to vote expanded.

The various state legislatures passed laws that updated how their electors are chosen.

Each state, also, specifies whether the electors have any flexibility to cast their votes in any way other than as instructed by the popular vote of the people of that state.

The (aggregated national) people’s popular vote for President – still today – has no meaning under the Constitution – the states elect the President.

Subverting the Founders Intent

Disgruntled Democrats, along with Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, are attempting to use the Electoral College as a Constitutional Alamo – a fight to the death to deny Donald Trump the Presidency – whatever the consequences to Constitutional principles.

Since the polls closed on November 8th, disgruntled Democrats have tried to use Clinton’s lead in the popular vote as an argument to persuade and, in some cases harass, Trump Electors. They argue these electors should ignore their states’ voters and vote for Clinton when the Electoral College meets in December to formally elect the 45th President.

The argument they make is commonly called the National Voter Plan. It’s not a new proposal.

The argument in favor: The value of every individual vote should be the same in every state.

The counter argument: one state or one portion of one large state should not have greater weight than the votes of any other geography – is illustrated by Mrs. Clinton’s plurality coming entirely from Los Angeles County, California.

The counter argument gains strength when no candidate has a national majority (50 percent plus one vote).

If the National Voter Plan were ever enacted into law – the President would be the absolute choice of only the six large bi-coastal urban media markets including New York and Los Angeles – exactly the circumstance the Founding Fathers sought to avoid in crafting the Electoral College.

Room for Reform

The wide divergence between the popular and electoral votes — and the unseemly attempt the thwart the Electoral College — at the end of a bitter and divisive 2016 campaign underscores the urgent need to modernize the Electoral College.

We can agree at the outset, amending the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College won’t happen. It is obvious that the small states would not support such an effort.

Reform must honor the original intent of the Founding Fathers – to insure a balance between large and small states is maintained.

Reform must block the National Voter Plan – it would legitimize the “mob” our Founders feared.

Reform begins with the question why did 90 million registered voters not go to the polls and vote?

  • Were they discouraged by the barrage of polls predicting a certain outcome?
  • Were they discouraged by the quality of the candidates and the polarizing campaign rhetoric they used?

More likely, no candidate asked for their vote in a persuasive manner?

No candidate offered them an affirmative case to vote for?

That is the point at which Electoral College reform must begin.

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2 Comments

  1. Don Oates March 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Joyce,

    I’ve found myself torn on this issue of majority rules vs. electoral college and appreciate your insight and opinion. As a Californian the main problem I see with it is that I have no real reason to vote, for either party. This state has always (at least in modern history) voted for the Democrat in the presidential election. So my voice is essentially silenced, voting for either party. Sure, it’s possible that there could be the case that one extra Republican vote is cast, but that’s a fools bet.

    The founding fathers point of mob rules is valid, but they also had no way to predict that we would someday have all the worlds knowledge at our finger tips, instantly. No longer do we need the educated white, land owner to hold our hand and make the decision for us.

    If you don’t understand the issues and don’t take the time to research them and listen to the opinions coming from both sides of the isle you have no excuse, and truthfully I don’t want you to vote. I trust the American people (mostly) and have come to believe that in the case of electing our leader it should be a majority of the people rather than that of the electors, who are elected almost entirely by state officials, party leaders, and sometimes because of who they know. That’s a disconnect that troubles me. Maybe the electoral college should be eliminated and let Congress make the decision. It’s essentially the same structure and of course is the same number of people, 538, and they are a direct majority rules representation of the voters after all. (plus we would not have to suffer through 9 months or more of election torture).

    To your point of why half the voters didn’t vote, I believe you are correct, and that my point is also one of the factors. I know it’s true here in Northern CA where many people I know didn’t vote because, again, what’s the point. Another factor is sadly there are a lot of people that just don’t understand or appreciate the privilege we have to make our voice heard and chart our own destiny.

    And if you don’t vote, don’t complain!

    Thank you for your time,
    Don Oates

    • Joyce Cordi May 5, 2017 at 1:03 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your comment on the Electoral College — it still matters!

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