Fixing the Electoral College

That title alone will start fights with both sides of the aisle. The right of course declaring that nothing is wrong with the Electoral College and the left pointing out that for the fifth time in American history we have a sitting President that lost the popular vote. And this time by a few million votes.

I am going to start of with the premise that the Electoral College is superior to direct democracy in that the college at least purports to prevent a totally unqualified candidate from getting elected President. I say purports because I obviously don’t think our current President is in any way qualified for he job.

Clearly it failed this time, and I will get back to why I think that happened in a moment. For now, I offer the fact that Donald Trump who is at best a brilliant charlatan came within less than a percentage point of winning the popular vote as evidence that having the Presidency decided by a popularity contest is absolutely insane. Even his supporters have nothing to offer in his defense other than they hate Hillary Clinton and President Obama. He is unredeemable.

Now on to why the electoral college failed us. Two primary reasons. The empty spacious (also the tiny) states with no population have too much voting power, and the college themselves have no check or balance to incentivize them to consider the outcome of their vote.

As for the low population states having too much power. Consider this. In Wyoming and the District of Columbia they get roughly half an electoral vote for every 100,000 people. The next ten low population states get between 1/3 and 1/2 an electoral vote per 100,000 people.

On the other end the three highest population states (California, Texas, and Florida) get 1/7th of an electoral vote for every hundred thousand people, and 20 states get 1/5 of a vote or less for every 100,000 people who reside there.

This is a serious imbalance, and it gives rural voters more voting power than they are due.

Here is where my friends on the left jump up and scream “Direct democracy! One man, one vote!”. In principle I agree. But still, hold that thought and we will get back to it. I promise.

That was the explanation for the first half of the first half of WHY I think the electoral college failed. Fixing it is later.

The second half of the equation, is that the current model of the electoral college has no incentive to vote in the nations interest. In fact, in many states, the Electors (the voters in the college) are required by law to vote as the people of their district instruct them, even if they have just cause to vote against that candidate.

So how do we fix this and make it function better AND make the system more representative of the people?

In my opinion the best fix is to have the House of Representative elect the President. This is similar to the originations of the electoral college, with the exception being that I would not allow the Senate a voice in that vote.

Here is why.

First off, the reason I would go this way instead of a direct popular vote for President is because we are a Republic. A republic is representative democracy. One of the reasons republics have fared better than democracies over time, is simply that every day people barely have time to manage their lives and keep up with their families and local communities. Even with modern communication tools a news junky and history fan like myself can barely keep up with what is happening outside of that sphere.

But in a republic, I don’t have to. Because in a republic, I elect someone to represent me at the next level, and they in turn do the same for the next level and so on. This way our interests get represented by people whose job it is, is to observe and react to the events occurring at their level of government.

This creates layers of responsibility and accountability…which we have removed from our Government.

At any rate, that is the rough in of why I don’t think we should directly elect the President. the job is too important to be a popularity contest.

Now on to why I think that the House (rather than appointed electors) should elect the President. One word. Accountability. If The House votes in a bum, they get tossed two years into his term. Also, because the President needs Congress to do anything, if they get tossed, we effectively limit the damage that the President can do until the end of his term.

But why shouldn’t the Senate get to choose? Two Reasons.

First, they are representatives of the States…see my article on repealing the 17th Amendment, and as such are not proportionate to the population….and I do believe that voting for President should be proportionate to the population rather than the soil they live on. A secondary part of that answer is that Senators longer terms make them more difficult to hold accountable for picking a bum.

The second reason I would exclude the Senate from selecting the President is because they are a significant check against his powers. The hold the rights to entreat, and hold approval over all of the Presidents appointments. I feel that separating the ability to choose the President and regulating who he hires creates an environment with much needed checks and balances that our Republic has missed for the long term.

At any rate, those are my thoughts on how to fix the electoral college. Sure get rid of it for a better version of itself, but not to go to a direct democracy….that is counter productive to this great experiment in self rule (as it has been tested previously and failed badly).

Remember, the whole point of this is thought experiment. Chew on it and see what you think. Tell other people. Be involved in your own governance.

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About Robb

A husband, Dad to 5, and Grandpa to 9. US Navy Vet. 18 Year Postal Employee turned full time Realtor. I enjoy a wide variety of things, but you will find that here I mostly write about Indianapolis, government/politics, recent news, and whatever book I am reading or have just finished at the moment.
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