(Re: “Why the Electoral College” in the Oct. 9 Vail Daily)
Thank you for bringing up the timely issue of the Electoral College. I was just teaching my students about the way in which our president is elected through this system and the next day your column appeared, which gave me some good material for class.
Although I work very hard at being a “nonpartisan” government teacher, the issue of the Electoral College is something I am very passionate about. I can’t help but get on my soapbox about my opinion that the Electoral College should be abolished. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share the other viewpoint.
When our Founding Fathers created the Electoral College, they lived in a different day and age. They did not live in a day when everyone was given a right to an education. Although Thomas Jefferson himself declared education to be the “keystone to the arch of our government,” but we did not have an education system for the masses when the Constitution was created. Jefferson was not present at the Constitutional Convention and may not have had a say in the idea of the Electoral College, but he recognized that if the people are to have a say in our government (which they do regardless of whether you look at it as a democracy or republic) then those people must be educated. Education is clearly something that the American people have decided is important to the well-being of our society.
The Founding Fathers also did not live in a day of 24-hour news. The masses were not informed on the latest and greatest from around the country and the world in a timely manner. Without access to that information, it is difficult to make an informed decision. So, I can see where something like the Electoral College would have been beneficial to avoid choosing a “favorite son” back then. But that was then.
I will not be at Hofstra University on Wednesday for the third and final Presidential debate, but I will know exactly what the candidates had to say. Likewise, if a candidate did not come to campaign in my state, I know the media would inform me on a particularly shining or damaging moment from the campaign trail, wherever it might take those candidates.
To be honest, I would rather not live in a battleground state so I didn’t have to endure all the negative ads that are flooding our radios and TVs. And on that note, campaign visits and money doesn’t necessarily go to the small states the Electoral College was meant to protect. The time and money has been invested in the swing states, thereby ignoring the majority of the country.
I am not opposed to the Electoral College because I am bitter about the outcome of the 2000 election. I am opposed to the Electoral College because it is inequitable. The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal” and we have come a long way in achieving equality. However, our votes are not equal.
The Supreme Court case Wesberry v. Sanders (1964) created the precedent of “one person, one vote” for Congressional Districts. In the words of Justice Hugo Black “[t]o say that a vote is worth more in one district than in another would not only run counter to our fundamental ideas of democratic government, it would cast aside the principle of a House of Representatives elected ‘by the People. . .'” If this applies to electing members of the House of Representatives, why shouldn’t it apply to electing the highest office in our country?
The Electoral College does not give an equal vote to all people in all states because of decreased voter turnout in states that historically lean one way or another. Why should my vote in the swing state of Colorado count more than Republicans living in traditionally Democratic states such as California or Democrats living in traditionally Republican states such as Texas.
I agree with you, Mr. Mazzuca, in the genius of our Founding Fathers. But their true genius does not lie in the creation of the Electoral College, but in a Constitution that is able to be amended. They knew the world would change and progress would take place, and so they knew they would need to create a document that could be amended.
If there is a glaring problem in our electoral system, it is in our Electoral College. Could it be abolished through a Constitutional Amendment? It would be very difficult, but not impossible. It’s abolition seemed likely in 1969 until Strom Thurmond killed it through a filibuster in 1970.
I believe that through an educated electorate, we could ultimately bring equality to all voters across the country. Interested and informed voters should do the research not only on the candidates, but then contact those who are newly elected and tell them it’s time for the Electoral College to go.
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