While we are doing governance housekeeping, let’s get rid of one of the least useful things in the Constitution: voting by electors. It is as antique as a powdered wig. And when it was enacted, only white male property owners could vote, so please do not quote to me the eternal wisdom of the Founding Fathers. As smart as they were, they supported slavery, counted slaves as 3/5’s of a human in the census, and didn’t even consider letting women vote. The Constitution is a lovely 18th Century document; this is the 21st Century and the Constitution needs updating. Why? We can have huge problems and without an updated Constitution we cannot solve them. If you owned an 18th Century home, wouldn’t you want indoor plumbing, electricity and maybe even a kitchen that didn’t threaten to burn your house down with every meal?
As the system stands now, if a candidate wins by one vote in a state with a few people, like Wyoming, he gets 3 electoral votes. If he wins in California, by one vote, he wins 55. This violates the idea that the every vote counts the same. The Presidency is a national job and should be elected by all the people — equally. Some say the electoral system protects the little states from the big states. It’s quite the reverse! California has 55 electoral votes, and it takes a boatload of little states to overcome that. But in a popular vote, all votes count equally — California voters may go 51% for a candidate, so voters all over the country can easily match, or exceed that number. As well, little states have extra clout in the Senate, as all states get two Senators. In the House, the teeniest states get three seats, a boost there also.
Remember, too, that when you fly over the US, you don’t see lines marking off the states. Your Senator and your Representative work for you as a member of a State. Since the President works for all of us, we should elect him or her directly.
Popular election of the Presidential ticket would mean that the person with a majority of the votes wins. In a three-way race, if no one wins a majority, there is a run off in two weeks. The one with the most votes wins. If there is a tie, we flip a coin. I cannot imagine going through another election where someone gets “Gored” — he or she wins the popular vote, but loses the election. This has happened not once, but three times: 1876, 1888 and 2000. The nightmare scenario of an electoral tie would be worse. See my blog on that.
While we are at it, let’s move election day to a two-day weekend to allow more people to vote. Let’s use the National Guard to secure polling places. In the Guard, there are enough IT professionals to safeguard the integrity of the computerized machines involved in the election. Kindly do not whine at me that this would favor one party or the other. The more people voting, the more valid our choice; sadly turnout usually runs just over half the voters. 2008’s turnout was a record high at a whopping 2/3’s. The more involved people are in the process, the fewer shenanigans they will tolerate from the people they elect.
We are only as good as our governance allows us to be. Right now, the electoral voting system is a huge game, played primarily in the swing states. That’s wrong.
“We, the people” should elect the President and Vice President directly.