Letter: Electoral College is overvalued, antiquated
In his letter in the March 30 edition of the Vail Daily, Mr. Gerald Katz of Edwards, Colorado, seems to embrace the concept of the Electoral College for reasons which I find both specious and bewildering.
Like overpriced health care, overpopulated prisons, overly influential lobbyists and overly abundant weapons of war, the Electoral College is overvalued and uniquely American.
Before we get to Mr. Katz’s letter, there are a few things we should bear in mind:
- When the electoral college was established, there were less than 4 million Americans living in 13 colonies that extended no further west than Georgia. There were a couple of teeny, tiny states, like Rhode Island and Delaware, which are more like strip malls than states.
- There was no radio, TV, electricity, interstate highways or railroads in the newly-formed country. There was no way to reach all of America in a timely fashion and it was feared that a ruthless tyrant could hoodwink enough people in heavily populated areas to become president. Alexander Hamilton made for the subject of a great play, but he had that one backward.
- The Founding Fathers weren’t geniuses (ever read the Second Amendment?), just a bunch of guys who did the best they could with what they had, which was, compared to the vast amount of knowledge gained since, very limited information.
- The Founding Fathers weren’t nice guys, either. They owned slaves and only provided the right to vote for white, male landowners. Women fought and died for the right to vote (19th Amendment, 1920), as did black people (Voting Rights Act of 1965).
On March 15, 2019, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill which would mandate that Colorado’s nine electoral votes be awarded to the presidential candidate winning the national popular vote.
In his letter to the editor, Mr. Katz took Gov. Polis to task for that bill. For some reason, Mr. Katz favors an antiquated system that is less up-to-date than the voting system in Iraq. Mr. Katz accuses Polis of playing politics, an extreme irony, considering that Mr. Katz references Hillary Clinton twice as the potential evil outcome of a strictly popular vote. One might wonder if Mr. Katz’s attitude would be the same if Mr. Trump won the popular vote, but lost the election because Hillary Clinton won the Electoral College.
Mr. Katz lambasts Gov. Polis for thinking that he is smarter than the Founding Fathers, which he may well be. Polis certainly has a lot more information at his disposal than they did.
The President of the United States is supposed to be the president of all the people, not just Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. In 2016, the state of Wyoming cast about 210,000 votes, each of its three electors representing 70,000 people. California cast approximately 9.7 million votes, each of its 55 electoral votes representing 179,000 people. This disparity and obliteration of the one person, one vote concept was not foreseen by the Founding Fathers.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is long overdue, but there are other ways to correct the imbalance. A reasonable alternative would be to have the “all or none” states amend the way they award electoral votes to better reflect their proportional voting.
Highland Park, Illinois, and Vail
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