Are you like me and sick of the media playing to the “Undecided Voter” group? I feel like at this stage of the campaign if you haven’t made up your mind between two very different candidates you are too STOOPID (sp on purpose) to get the privilege of voting. I really don’t want my future decided by a handful of people, do you?
I am also tired of hearing about the swing states. I do feel sorry for the people living there because I am certain that they are overwhelmed by a barrage of spiteful political ads. Also, I do understand the importance of garnering the 270+ electoral college votes to win. But, again, why must my next president be in the hands of a few? Are you feeling like me? It as if my vote doesn’t count? But it does! I am important too! Or am I?
Guess what! The election of the President of the United States is IN THE HANDS OF A FEW – only 538 to be exact. They are the Constitutional “electors” – commonly known as the Electoral College. In reality your individual vote barely counts when it comes to electing POTUS.
If you are like most Americans you probably don’t understand why we even have an Electoral College. In fact, our Constitution never references an “Electoral College”, but rather Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment both refer to “electors,” not to the “Electoral College”. Our founding fathers established this group of “electors” as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.
You may be wondering what a “qualified citizen” is and how someone becomes one. The Electoral College can be traced to the Roman Republic’s Centurial Assembly. In that system, the adult male citizens of Rome were divided, according to their wealth, into groups of 100 (Centuries). Each group of 100 was entitled to cast only one vote either in favor or against proposals submitted to them by the Roman Senate. In America’s Electoral College system, the States serve as the Centurial groups (not based on wealth), and the number of votes per State is determined by the size of each State’s Congressional delegation (ie. 2 Senators plus one for each member in the House of Representatives amd 3 for Washington D.C.). Currently there are 538 electors, and a majority of 270 votes is required to elect the President.
Historically, the Electoral College was created because our founding fathers were trying to solve several problems. How do you elect a President when the nation…
- is composed of thirteen large and small State – each jealous of their own rights and powers and suspicious of any central national government
- contained 4 million people spread up and down a thousand miles of Atlantic seaboard barely connected by transportation or communication
- believed, under the influence of such British political thinkers as Henry St. John Bolingbroke, that political parties were mischievous if not downright evil, and
- felt that gentlemen should not campaign for public office (The saying was “The office should seek the man, the man should not seek the office.”).
How, then, to choose a president without political parties, without national campaigns, and without upsetting the carefully designed balance between the presidency and the Congress on one hand and between the States and the federal government on the other? Answer? – “electors.”
Even though a small number of us head to the polls on the first Tuesday in November, our President is not actually elected (or official) until much later. Here is the timeline –
- On the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the presidential election the electors meet in their respective states. They cast their votes for President and Vice President on separate ballots and recorded on a “Certificate of Vote”. The votes are then sent to Congress and the National Archives as part of the official records of the presidential election. On the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors, the votes are counted in a joint session of Congress. On the 20th of January, the President-Elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States.
So officially the name of POTUS is not known until the 6th of January! Bet most of you reading this blog didn’t realize that! Shocking isn’t it? We think we know who the President is because we are watching the news release of the polling station results across the United States.
I believe the time for the “Electoral College” should be over. Our ability to process a massive amount of information is so simple in our current times. However, to remove the concept of the “electors” would require a Constitutional Amendment. And (sarcastically) how often does that happen? Well, there are 27 Amendments, but remember the first ten are the Bill of Rights, so it has only actually happened eighteen times in over 200 years.
Question? – Do you believe The Electorial College should continue to exist in American politics? Do you believe your vote really counts?
To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain. – Louis L’Amour
Freedom is the last, best hope of earth. – Abraham Lincoln.
You are only free, when you exercise your right to vote, so…
GET OUT AND VOTE! Even if you aren’t feeling like your vote counts, it does.
Live, Learn and Love,
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For More Detailed Reading about the Electoral College and the Constitution, try these links: