Electoral College, ..again!

According to Webster: E·lec·tor·al College A body of electors chosen to elect the President and Vice President of the United States.

According to (geeks politics.com,) under the heading of (The Way It Really Is)..

1. Pro: It allows small states and small town America to have a say in the election. The candidates go to every corner of the battleground states and many people get the opportunity to meet and question them. I am originally from a small town and I think that this is one of the major benefits of the electoral college.

2. Con: Many states are seemingly completely left out of the process. A solid blue state like California never gets to see either candidate. Neither does a solid red state like Texas. These are the 2 biggest states in the union and they don’t get any attention from the candidates. (Source, geek politics.com)

(Sidebar) As the individual that wrote those paragraphs is not identified, I can only assume that the author has little or no knowledge of American geography, or the paragraphs were written prior to 1960, when Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the union. Either way, I have little or no interest in further reading his or her blather, i.e., opinion” concerning the electoral College.

Moving on, to (time.com). ..and time.com’s rendition…

ORIGINS AND HOW IT WORKS..

When you head to the booth this Tuesday, you won’t actually be pulling the lever for John Kerry or George Bush. Rather, you will be casting a ballot for a slate of electors pledged to a particular candidate, who are then supposed to vote for the person you want to be president. The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of senators (two per state) plus the number of U.S. representatives, which varies according to the state’s population as determined by the Census count every ten years. Presently, the Electoral College has 538 electors, — 535 for the total number of senators and representatives plus three for Washington, D.C. Today, a candidate must receive 270 electoral votes to win.

The electors will meet in their respective state capitals to cast their votes for president and vice president on the Monday following the second Wednesday in December; it’s as if the founders foresaw the need for recount time. The votes are sealed and sent to the president of the Senate, who opens and reads them before Congress on January 6th.

The reason we arrived at this system: Our founding fathers were all about compromise when they were choosing a mechanism for picking the president. One early idea was to have the Congress or the Senate decide, but that plan was nixed because it was felt that arrangement would have upset the government’s balance of power and fostered corruption.

The founders feared a direct, winner-take-all election would be too reckless. Since travel and communication around the country was slow, they worried that citizens wouldn’t get sufficient information about candidates outside their state and would usually just pick someone from their region. With a direct popular vote, it is more likely that no candidate would receive a majority sufficient to govern a whole country, making challenges more frequent. Even if there was a clear winner, the selection of the president would often be decided by the biggest, most populous state with little attention paid to smaller ones. The Electoral College seemed like a better way to ensure the president had a wide geographic mandate.

SELECTING ELECTORS

State legislatures decide the manner by which electors are chosen, and not surprisingly, different states have adopted different methods. The two most common ways: either the elector is nominated by his or her state party committee (usually as a reward for years of stumping for the party) or the elector “campaigns” for the spot and a vote at the party’s convention decides the winners.

Electors tend to fly under the radar, perhaps because parties usually don’t pick people like Rush Limbaugh or Michael Moore to cast their ballots. Most people, unless they are closely involved with their state party, don’t even know who their electors are. Those chosen to be electors tend to be highly engaged in their party or in politics, such as activists, state elected officials or even people who have personal ties to a candidate. Surprisingly, the Constitution stipulates very few qualifications. It speaks more to what electors can’t be rather than who they should be. The following cannot be an elector: 1) a Representative or Senator 2) a high-ranking official in a position of “trust or profit” 3) someone who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against theU.S.

This past Thursday, one of Kerry’s Ohio electors, Representative Sherrod Brown, resigned because he is a congressman and thus constitutionally ineligible. The Kerry camp can replace him before November 2nd.

THE FAITHLESS ELECTOR

Since there is no federal law that requires electors to vote how they pledged they would, there have been a few instances where electors have not supported their party’s candidate or the state’s popular vote. In the past, electors have done this to make a statement when the election wasn’t close and their vote wouldn’t matter. But a faithless elector on Tuesday could wreak havoc around the country if there is a near tie in the Electoral College. Already one of West Virginia’s five Republican electors, South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb, said that he might not vote for Bush if the President wins West Virginia (but he said it is unlikely he would support Kerry.)

Several states have responded to faithless electors by passing laws that make electors vote as they pledged. Some states have gone even farther by slapping them with misdemeanors or fines. North Carolina, for example, levies a $10,000 fine on an elector who forgoes his or her pledge. However, most scholars believe these state-level laws don’t hold much water and would not withstand a constitutional challenge

WINNER-TAKES-ALL VS. DISTRICT SYSTEM

Forty-eight states have the standard “winner-takes-all” electoral system: whichever presidential ticket amasses the most popular votes in a state wins all the electors of that state. Maine and Nebraska are the two exceptions. In these states, two electoral votes follow the winner takes all system and the rest (two for Maine, three for Nebraska) follow the “district system,” a popular vote within each congressional district. While neither Maine nor Nebraska has ever split its electoral votes, this election could be a first. Currently, Kerry holds a slight lead in Maine, but if Bush wins in the 2nd District, the President would get one of the state’s four electoral votes.

Another wild card is Colorado’s Amendment 36, which would take effect immediately if it passes on Tuesday. This initiative would split up  Colorado’s electoral votes based on the percentage of votes each candidate wins in the state. Since Colorado is currently too close to call, Amendment 36 would most likely result in five electoral votes for the winner and four for the loser, potentially changing the outcome of the presidency and ensuring even more lawsuits than we saw in 2000.

AN ELECTORAL COLLEGE TIE: PARSING THE 12th AMENDMENT

It’s feasible that we will have a repeat of 2000, with one candidate winning the popular vote, yet losing the election. Not ideal, sure, but at least we’d have a president. Even more divisive would be an electoral tie, a real possibility since polls in 11 swing states are too close to call. Assuming the other states vote as predicted, the Washington Post’s computer analysis finds 33 combinations under which the swing states could line up to produce a 269 to 269 tie.

Under the 12th Amendment, if one candidate does not win the necessary 270 electoral votes to become president, the decision goes to the House, where each state has one vote. The House vote is by state delegations, not simple majority, and the winner must get the vote of 26 state delegations. Assuming the states follow party lines, there are currently 30 Republican delegations, 16 Democratic delegations (including Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is independent but liberal) and 4 deadlocked delegations. This formula basically guarantees Bush a Victory — no need to call in the Supreme Court.

PROS AND CONS

Opponents of the Electoral College point to Bush as a reason to get rid of the current system — he’s president even though he lost the popular vote. Since the distribution of electoral votes tends to over-represent people in rural states, opponents argue that the system fails to accurately reflect the popular will. This over-representation occurs because a state’s electors are based upon the number of representatives it has in the House (determined by population) plus the number of representatives it has in the Senate (two, no matter the state’s population, giving more weight to small states.) Some argue that the winner-take-all mechanism in 48 states discourages independent or third party candidates from running because it would be difficult for them to get many electoral votes.

Proponents of the Electoral College system like the fact that a president must have a wide geographic distribution of support to win, believing this contributes to the cohesiveness of the country. They think the College helps minority interests because their votes could make a difference in the state, whereas the national popular majority would probably dilute them in a direct election. Some like that the Electoral College encourages a two-party system, because it forces candidates to move to the center of public opinion to get elected. In a direct election dozens of political parties, many with extreme, fringe ideas, would be encouraged to crop up to prevent a candidate from winning a popular majority. One of these parties could win the run-off and we would have more radical changes in policies from one administration to the next.

 

After the 2000 election, there was a lot of talk about doing away with this system, but it’s unlikely this will happen anytime soon. To do so, we would need an amendment to the Constitution, which requires a two-thirds vote from Congress and then ratification by three-fourths of the states for it to become law. Small, rural states probably wouldn’t support any such amendment because it would give them less of a voice.

In the end, the system works pretty well. For the past two hundred years, the Electoral College has picked a president, most of the time without incident. While not without its faults, the College has withstood the test of time, allowing peaceful elections to continue through tumultuous world wars, the civil rights struggle and economic depressions. It’s a testament to the founding fathers’ foresight that this ancient system of compromise continues to thrive.

Editorial: Although I don’t have a “bone to pick” with the individual who authored the above explanation of the “Electoral College” process, I do have a “bone to pick” with his or her attitude in believing that parts of the process work for America. In America’s infancy, I duly concede that the majority of the population was illiterate, thus allowing for the educated minority to (ride over) the “rank-and-file.”

According to my fictitious pearlsofprofudity unabashed and unpublished dictionary: “ride over,” (in context) Of, or relating to the proclivity of the mighty to take advantage of the meek.

According to Webster: might·y, Having or showing great power, skill, strength, or force.

According to Webster: meek, Easily imposed on; gentle, humble, submissive.

Continuing…

America was not divided into States for the purpose of competing or conflicting over a bag of marbles. America was divided into States to allow individuals the freedom and opportunity to pursue a future within the parameters of their personal beliefs and circumstances.

(Sidebar) For those that care…

 

The first sentence..

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the “Laws of Nature” and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

The next section, the Preamble..

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the..

“Consent of the governed,”

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the..

“Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,”

 

..and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to..

“Effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should “not be changed” for..

“Light and Transient Causes”

..and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind is more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute “Despotism,” it is their right, “it is their duty,” “to throw off such Government,” ..and to provide new Guards for their future security.” (Source Wikipedia)

Then of course, there is the other document that begins..

 

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (Source Wikipedia) 

The meat and potatoes..

Original plan

Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution states:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 of the Constitution states:

The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 of the Constitution provided for the original fashion by which the President and Vice President were to be chosen by the electors. In the original system, the candidate who received both the most votes and more than half of all votes cast would become President, the candidate receiving the second most votes would become Vice President.

The design of the Electoral College was based upon several assumptions and anticipations of the Framers of the Constitution:

  1. Each state would employ the district system of allocating electors.
  2. Each presidential elector would exercise independent judgment when voting.
  3. Candidates would not pair together on the same ticket with assumed placements toward each office of President and Vice President.
  4. The system as designed would rarely produce a winner, thus sending the election to Congress.

On these facts, some scholars have described the Electoral College as being intended to nominate candidates from which the Congress would then select a President and Vice President.

Each state government is free to have its own plan for selecting its electors…

Breakdown and revision

The emergence of political parties and nationally coordinated election campaigns soon complicated matters in the elections of 1796 and 1800. In 1796, Federalist Party candidate John Adams won the presidential election; by finishing in second place, Democratic-Republican Party candidate Thomas Jefferson, the Federalists’ opponent, became the Vice President.

This resulted in the President and Vice President not being of the same political party.

In 1800, the Democratic-Republican Party again nominated Jefferson for President, and also nominated Aaron Burr for Vice President. After the election, Jefferson and Burr both obtained a majority of electoral votes, but tied one another with 73 votes each. Since ballots did not distinguish between votes for President and votes for Vice President, every ballot cast for Burr technically counted as a vote for him to become President, despite Jefferson clearly being his party’s first choice.

Lacking a clear winner by constitutional standards, the election had to be decided by the House of Representatives pursuant to the Constitution’s contingency election provision.

Having already lost the presidential contest, Federalist Party Representatives in the lame duck House session seized upon the opportunity to embarrass their opposition and attempted to elect Burr over Jefferson.

The House deadlocked for 35 ballots as neither candidate received the necessary majority vote of the state delegations in the House (the votes of nine states were needed for an election). Jefferson achieved electoral victory on the 36th ballot, but only after Federalist Party leader Alexander Hamilton, who disfavored Burr’s personal character more than Jefferson’s policies, had made known his preference forJefferson…

(Sidebar) for the (unaware) non-history buff.

 

Aaron Burr shot and fatally wounded Alexander Hamilton. on July 11, 1804. At Weehawken in New Jersey, he died at 2:00 p.m. the following day.

Continuing…

Responding to the problems from those elections, the Congress proposed the Twelfth Amendment in 1803, prescribing electors cast separate ballots for President and Vice President, to replace the system outlined in Article II, Section 1, Clause 3. By June 1804, the states had ratified the amendment in time for the 1804 election.

Fourteenth Amendment

Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment allows for a state’s representation in the House of Representatives to be reduced to the extent that state unconstitutionally denies people the right to vote.

On May 8, 1866, during a debate on the Fourteenth Amendment, Thaddeus Stevens, the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, delivered a very important speech on the amendment’s intent.

Regarding Section 2, he said: The second section I consider the most important in the article. It fixes the basis of representation in Congress. If any State shall exclude any of “her”…

Sidebar) Interesting representation.

 “Thaddeus Stevens” (referring to a state as a female entity.) – (while blatantly excluding the female population from participation in voting). 

Continuing…

..”adult male citizens” from the elective franchise, or abridge that right, “she” shall forfeit “her” right to representation in the same proportion.

The effect of this provision will be either to compel the States to grant universal suffrage or so shear them of their power as to keep them forever in a hopeless minority in the national Government, both legislative and executive.”

Federal law (2 U.S.C. § 6) imposes a “de jure” mandate for the reduction of a state’s representatives to Congress (and thus its Electoral College membership) should the right to vote at any election “named in the amendment to the Constitution, article 14, section 2” be denied or abridged. (Source Wikipedia)

Talk about an iron fist, our forefathers, “albeit in my opinion,” were a hell of a lot more benevolent than our “overseers” today, ..they were indeed, ..again “in my opinion,” ..every bit as corrupt and addicted to power and greed as our present representatives.

Reiterating..

“In the end, the system works pretty well. For the past two hundred years, the Electoral College has picked a president, (most of the time) without incident.”

Response: Bullcrap!

Reiterating..

..”the College has withstood the test of time.”

Response: So has greed and corruption.

Reiterating..

It’s a testament to the founding fathers’ foresight that this “ancient” system of compromise continues to thrive.

Response: According to Webster: an·cient, (in context) Of or relating to times long past.

Editorial: This is the 21st-century, six-year-olds have cell phones.

According to Webster: com·pro·mise, A settlement of differences.

..a Government of the people, ..by the people, ..for the people.

Question: (To all except Barack Obama) What is it about Abraham Lincoln’s adress at Gettysburg that you’d like to change?

Editorial: The “rank-and-file” taxpaying American citizen has been “submissively” compromising, ..and has been “shamefully” compromised by “our” government for more than 200 years via the “Electoral College” system. It’s time, or more correctly, way past time for “We the People” (who still place our hands over our hearts when we recite the Pledge of Allegiance) and “We the People” who still (regard God as a Cornerstone  of America’s foundation.)

 

America is a Christian country, accepting of all faiths, nowhere in the Bible is there a passage demanding that infidels be annihilated.

  

In America, freedom is meant to reign supreme.

Think about it, I’ll be back tomorrow

Crusader Rabbit…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: