Working As Intended


Posted on : 2/02/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

Anyone with a modicum of American civics and history education knows that our President is selected via process that is known as the Electoral College.  Votes for President are in reality votes for electors that will represent a given state when the College meets in the weeks following the election.

But why use an intermediary organization?

At the time of our nation's founding, there was a concern that a candidate with regional appeal would be able to garner enough votes from a few populous states to win in a straight popularity election.  The use of the Electoral College was intended to cause candidates to campaign more broadly in order to demonstrate their appeal to a greater cross section of the electorate.

While there are those that suggest that the 2000 election was a fluke, I strongly contend that it was proof that the Electoral College system was functioning as intended.  While Mr. Gore did receive more popular votes, he failed to win enough electoral votes to win the presidency.  A look at the county-by-county map from that election clearly shows Mr. Gore as appealing almost uniformly to a select group of urban centers.

Of course, let's be honest with one another.  The closeness of that election clearly indicates that Mr. Bush could have done more to broaden his support among voters.  It was a close election after all.

In the wake of the 2000 election, we were treated to all manner of leftish initiatives to abolish the Electoral College in favor of using the popular vote.  Apparently, they could not conceive of a condition where a Democrat might beat a Republican in the Electoral College while losing the popular vote.

More recently, there has been the news of GOP initiatives in a few states to change the state election laws to split those electoral votes based on voting trends within the respective congressional districts.  The theory is that this change will make the GOP more competitive in future Presidential elections.  It is based on looking backwards at the 2012 election where Mr. Obama won a number of crucial "winner takes all" states by very narrow margins.

These current initiatives are as idiotic as the prior attempts to convert us to using the popular vote.  In fact, they are nothing more than an attempt to move us partially down the road to using the popular vote.  Apparently, today's GOP cannot conceive of a condition where a Republican could lose to a Democrat under their proposed distribution of electoral votes where they might win under the current "winner takes all" system used in most states.

That last item is pretty important.

There have been all manner of hyperbolic claims about the GOP "rigging" future elections or "stealing" future elections with these proposals to alter the distribution of electoral votes.


Excuse the language, please.

Nebraska and Maine currently use a proportional distribution of their electoral votes and have done so for years.  The Constitution permits states to determine how their electoral votes will be distributed.  The current "winner takes all" approach that is used in most states is legitimate only because it represents the current election laws of those states.  Those state legislatures can legitimately decide to use some different system at any time.

Again, let's be honest with one another.  America is significantly divided.  Dense urban centers and many of the surrounding suburbs support Democrats almost exclusively.  Less dense urban centers, associated suburbs, and rural American support Republicans almost exclusively.  These two groups have decisively different views about the role of government in our lives.  Until that difference of opinion gets resolved, I do not see our political tensions as abating any time soon.

But as long as actions taken by either side are kept within the law, charges of "rigging" or "stealing" elections are entirely out of place.

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