Electoral College is damned if they do and damned if they don’t

The Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of 2.7 million votes. Despite this overwhelming landslide victory, because she did not win a majority (270+) of the 538 Electoral College votes, Donald Trump is the President elect. If the Electors vote as they are pledged to vote, then Trump will become the president. This scheme flies in the face of what most people understand as a “one-person-one-vote” democracy.

In theory, the Electors could prevent Trump from becoming the President by throwing their votes behind another candidate. However, they will not, because they cannot because of the restrictions imposed by their respective state laws. Since they cannot, the Electoral College should be abolished by Constitutional Amendment by the next Democratically controlled Congress. The popular vote should determine who becomes the President of the United States of America. This will insure that the will of the people is not usurped by Electoral College cabal or cabals therein formed.

The Electoral College was designed for a reason. The reason that it was designed was to be a check on the popular vote. The Electoral College was designed in order that an ill-informed, easily bamboozled public would not be able to elect a President who would harm the interests of this nation. Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers stated: “The process of the Electoral College affords a moral certainty, that the office of the President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

Before Donald Trump became the Republican President-elect, an unprecedented number of his own party’s top leaders, past and present, commented that he was unqualified for the office, lacked the proper temperament to act as a liaison in geopolitical affairs and that he posed a real threat to our national security. Donald Trump is a man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications because he has no foreign policy experience, he is easily provoked for petty, personal reasons, he demeans women and persons with disabilities, he has advocated for using torture despite the fact that it is illegal, he encouraged Russia to breach the cyber-security of U.S. institutions to influence our elections, he said that more countries should have nuclear capabilities and he has said that he knows more than our military generals and the intelligence community. Arguably, President-elect Donald Trump is THE reason that the Electoral College was created.

The Electoral College was meticulously designed by our founding fathers as a fail-safe against our own human weaknesses that are easily swayed by fantastic personalities who make promises that we cannot resist. Our founding father’s debated the Electoral College mechanism for months. They published competing ideas about the efficacy of and need for the Electoral College in public newspapers and solicited public comment about their ideas.

The electoral college was created as a comprise between those who desired that the President be chosen through a wholly popular vote and those who desired that the President be chosen by the Congress. These two sides compromised by agreeing that there should be a popular vote that would be “certified” or adopted by the Electoral College. The whole reason for the creation of the Electoral College was for the institution of the Electoral College and the Electors of the Electoral College to be a “check” on the popular vote if the people who tried to elect someone who could harm the long term interests of the U.S. The reason for this is that our distinguished founding fathers did not trust that “we the people” would always make decisions in our best, long-term interests. Therefore, they surmised that another body, of un-elected, appointed officials, from each state should have a separate vote for the President after the popular election and after some weeks for deliberation about the President-elect.

Electors in all states are appointed by their respective parties, at an appointed time of year during each election cycle before the popular election. The number of Electors appointed by each party in each state equals the number of representatives that each state has in Congress, and the District of Columbia also gets to appoint three electors. Say that you live in a state with ten representatives. Then the Republicans will choose ten electors and the Democrats will choose ten electors (as will the Greens and the Libertarians and any other party if they are on the ballot). All but two states (Nebraska and Maine), and the District of Columbia, are winner-take-all states, which means that if the Republicans get the highest number of popular votes in a state, then their appointed Electors are chosen to vote at the Electoral College. Therefore, in the example above if Republicans win the popular vote, then their ten electors get to vote in the elector college and none of the Democrat’s Electors get to vote (nor the Green or Libertarian or other parties Electors).

At the vote in the Electoral College, Electors are encouraged to and take an oath to vote for the candidate of the party who appointed them. So Democrats are encouraged and take an oath to cast their vote for the Democratic candidate. The Republicans are likewise, encouraged and take an oath to cast their vote for the Republican candidate. Although the is no Constitutional of federal obligation for Electors to vote as pledged, in most states there are financial or criminal sanctions if Electors do not vote for their party’s candidate and in many cases their vote would be nullified and the Elector would be replaced by the party with another Elector from their party. Therefore, according to the U.S. National Archives webpage, since the inception of the Electoral College, 99 percent of the Electors have voted as pledged.

If Electors do not vote for the candidate that they are pledged to, then they are labeled “faithless electors.” This election cycle an unprecedented movement is taking place to attempt to influence Electors not to vote for Donald Trump thus becoming “faithless electors.” So far one Republican elector from Texas has publicly announced that he will not be casting his vote for Donald Trump. Instead of voting for someone else, he has withdrawn as an Elector. His reason is that his God does not allow him to vote for such a person as Donald Trump.

Nine Democratic electors have joined a movement called Hamilton Electors whose stated goal is to deprive Donald Trump of the majority of the Electoral College’s votes necessary for him to become the President. Thus, unless they can get a majority of the Electors (270+) to all cast their votes for another candidate, then 50 appointees from the House of Representatives will decide who becomes the president. Since the House is controlled by Republicans, they will vote for a Republican, presumably Trump. The strategy the Hamilton Electors are employing is that they agree not to cast their votes for their candidate, Clinton, and instead cast their votes for a well-qualified Republican. The Hamilton Electors will do this in order to encourage their Republican counterparts to do the same, not cast their votes for Trump, and instead cast their votes for a well-qualified Republican.

Imagine the precedent that this would set. In the future, if any significant number of Electors follow this ill-conceived scheme, then Presidential candidates will not even bother campaigning to the American public but can limit all of their time, energy and super-PAC money to lobbying Electors.

If the Electoral College Electors cannot or do not vote as their conscience and their reason compels them to vote, in long-term interests of the U.S., regardless of their party affiliation and regardless of the party who appointed them, then the Electoral College serves no purpose other than a hindrance to the popular will of the people. Since individual state laws in most cases prevent Electors from voting as their conscience and their reason compels them to vote, in long-term interests of the U.S., regardless of their party affiliation and regardless of the party who appointed them, the Electoral College is a hindrance to the popular will of the people.

Also, if the Electors usurp the democratic will of the people, i.e. the popular vote, and vote for someone other than the currently two competing candidates, then they have made a further mockery of our democracy in their own self-interest.

At this point the Electoral College is “damned if they do and damned if they don’t.” If the Electors vote as pledged that they have once again in less than 17 years (five election cycles) usurped the will of the people by electing a President who was NOT chosen by a majority of the American voting voters (in 2000 Gore had more popular votes than Bush but Bush had more electors). Likewise, if the Hamilton Electors get their way, then, the will of millions of people will be usurped by less than 600 individuals who were not even elected to their positions. Finally, since the ballots of the Electors are not secret, if the Electors vote their conscience and against their party in favor of the other candidate, most will face sanctions and their votes will be nullified and they will be replaced by someone who will “get in line” with the party.

The institution of the Electoral College is broken. The institution cannot be fixed. It is time for the institution to be retired by constitutional amendment by the next Democratically controlled Congress.

 

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