The Electoral College: The appendix of America
"I decided to look into it."
By ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Managing Editor
There are many things I do not understand in life. The stock market, for example – that one’s way up there on my list of things that do not make sense.
So are the plot from “Inception” (Was it a dream?? Was it reality??) and anchovy olives (like either of them wasn’t gross enough in the first place?). However, I think that the Electoral College would have to be numero uno on my list. I honestly do just not get it.
So I decided to look into it.
I began my search on YouTube, where most of my internet excursions begin. I refer any and all interested parties to watch the School House Rock “Electoral College” video. Three girls spelled and cheered their way through the song intro, informing me that this was not a college with a football team or math classes (WHAT?!).
The Electoral College is a chosen delegation with representatives from each state who ultimately decide who is going to win a presidential election. Each state’s delegation is equal to the number of senators (2) added to the number of Congressional representatives.
The candidate who wins the popular vote of each state, no matter how close the votes are, will win all the Electoral College votes for that state. The candidate with more than 270 wins the election. The Founding Fathers came up with this as a way to prevent both factionalism in the nation and the legislature directly choosing the president.
Or an elitist move to avoid the lesser folk from electing the “wrong” person. It could be either one.
Maybe it was the creepy voting booth who kept pointing at me with a cane and telling me how he was going to send my vote to college and enticing me to “pull his levers,” but I was not fully satisfied with this somewhat vague explanation. I started looking for more thorough explanations, and found them in “The Electoral College for Dummies” by Keith Hughes and good ol’ MSNBC.
The Electoral College is actually in the Second Article of the Constitution. Each elector actually has the choice to be a “faithless elector,” and to NOT vote for the candidate who won the majority of their state. It is the unwritten constitution that electors have to follow the majority vote. Maine and Nebraska are the only states that award electors proportionally to the amount of votes each candidate receives within the state.
Regardless, a candidate can win the popular vote of the nation but lose because they did not reach 270 electoral votes. Some of us may remember when this happened with George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000. If no one reaches 270, than the United States Senate gets to chose the Vice President and the House of Representatives elects the President.
So theoretically, if no one reaches the magic number with the E.C. next week, we would have a Romney/Biden presidency on our hands. And as much as I would thoroughly enjoy watching Joe Biden try to cage fight Romney (because he is such a loose cannon and I LOVE IT), I would rather not have that happen.
So now I understand the Electoral College, but I still don’t get it. Why do we still have this extremely outdated, and frankly stupid, system of checks and balances in our electoral processes? It is exactly this kind of political funk that make ordinary citizens feel like their vote doesn’t even matter, and would prevent them from voting on Election Day.
Why don’t we reward people who actually show up to the polls with something more than a sticker? How about we let their vote, not some random delegate’s, count?
The Electoral College is the appendix of America. Someday, it is going to burst and we will all be in deep trouble.