Greetings and Salutations;
The Electoral College, as a part of our Presidential Election is rarely a step in the process that anyone cares about. Every four years, there are a few folks whining about how unfair it is, or how it is influencing the results…but in general, no one cares. However, this year, it has turned into what some folks believe is the last hope for Democracy in America…and so has had its importance spiked upwards. I wanted to post a thought or two about it, here in the few days before it votes and our next President is locked in.
Over the years, the states have implemented a couple of VERY BAD laws dealing with how the votes of the Electoral College are cast and treated.
- All but TWO states have a “Winner Take All” law.
- Many states have created a “Faithless Electors” law.
Why are these two laws (in specific) very bad for Democracy and the firewall that the Electoral College is supposed to provide and what could be done about it?
The “Winner Take All” law means that the candidate winning by even ONE vote gets the benefit of ALL the Electoral votes. This could mean that a candidate with ONE vote gets 20 or more votes from the Electoral College. The unfairness of this should be immediately obvious, as it subverts the will of the people…disenfranchising the many votes for the other candidates. How could this be fixed? I suggest that the “Winner Take All” Laws be repealed and removed. Instead simply apportion the Elector’s votes in proportion to the votes the candidates got in the election.
The “Faithless Elector” law makes it a crime for the Electors to refuse to vote for the winning candidate that they are assigned to. This undercuts a major reason for the Electoral College, and stands against the rules of a society of freedom. I suggest that all such laws be repealed and removed.
That having been said, I am not entirely sure that state laws dealing with the Electoral Congress are Constitutional, and therefore valid. I can put up a good argument that State Laws do not and should not apply to the Electoral College. Specifically…
- it is a direct function of the Federal Government. It is created in the FEDERAL Constitution.
- There are no permissions for a state to create law controlling the actions of the Electors in any of the Amendments which deal with the Electoral College. As a matter of fact, the Constitutional references invoke as free a path as is possible for the Electors to vote their conscience, unhindered by laws limiting their choices.
- In the writings of Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, Hamilton speaks to the importance of the Electors ensuring that a demagogue, playing to the emotions and prejudices of the citizenry, NOT take control of the government. The idea, as I see it, is to ensure that a person who, from either ignorance or malicious intent, would destroy our Democracy in pursuit of their personal agenda.
So… I believe these two, major points show that an attack on the Electoral College – such as the concept of “Winner Take All” or of a “Faithless Elector” as being a person who refuses to vote for the candidate with the largest number of Electoral Votes null and void. I believe that these laws undercut the picture of reality as held by Hamilton, and are moving us towards destruction of our Democracy.
I would , rather, argue that the term “Faithless Elector” is more appropriate for the Electoral College that chooses to be a rubber stamp and put a dangerous candidate into office simply because they are forced to bow to the the fickle and emotion driven opinions of the voters by law.
Here are a couple of useful links discussing the College:
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