The electoral college, a warped, divisive process for choosing America’s president, should be relegated to the dustbin of history.
The 12th Amendment, ratified in 1804, mandates a stunningly undemocratic practice unique to the United States. Simply put, the president and vice president are not elected by the voters but by 538 men and women.
That number equals each state’s representatives plus senators. New York has 29 electors, Texas has 38, California has 55 and Idaho has 4.
Candidates and political parties have learned to game this system to the benefit of the minority, especially in the past few decades.
For five times in our history, the winner of the popular vote has not been inaugurated president. It’s happened twice since 2000.
Originally, the assumption was that the masses were not competent or knowledgeable enough to select the chief executive. The presidency originally was not intended to be particularly powerful. So, an electoral process that gave more power proportionately to smaller states than big ones didn’t seem like a big deal.
If the system’s inherent unfairness could be overlooked in the past, it cannot anymore. Populations in metropolitan areas have mushroomed and rural areas are depopulating. That makes the starting count of two electors per state wildly unbalanced in favor of citizens in small states.
One way to correct this travesty is by constitutional amendment. However, the U.S. Senate is more skewed to lightly populated states than is the electoral college, so that is not likely to happen.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact could have the effect of a constitutional amendment without actually eliminating the electoral college. So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that require their 189 electors to vote for the winner of the national vote rather than their jurisdiction’s vote.
If the plan is approved by enough states to total 270 electoral votes, the majority needed to elect a president, this democratic method of choosing America’s top elected officials will take effect.
The president and vice president of the United States represent all citizens and should be chosen by all the voters. Every vote should count equally, no matter if the vote comes from Illinois or Texas or Wyoming.
The National Popular Vote plan should be approved by all states as soon as possible. It’s high time to leave the 19th century behind.