The race is heating up. The next few weeks will see more debate on the value of the Electoral College, the process of electing the President of the United States of America. This is an important equalizer in American politics.
The Founding Fathers established a process based on their immense knowledge and understanding of history. They did not take this lightly – and they have proven many times to have been correct in their evaluation of government process. Like those before us, we should not take this lightly.
First let us be clear – our vote counts. The Electoral College is comprised of representatives, selected by party process, but dedicated to following the wishes of the vote of the people. Each State is granted Electoral votes according to their representation in Congress. One vote for each Senator and one vote for each Representative. Every State is guaranteed two Senators and at least one Representative; so every state is guaranteed at least three Electoral Votes. Representatives are apportioned based on population, I think Missouri has 9 and California has something like 3,000.
I48 States do the winner-take-all thing – the winner of the popular vote in a State gets all the marbles, all the Electoral College votes. Two States grant the Electoral votes by popular vote in Congressional Districts.
This winner-takes-all process serves to protect the voice of minorities. In Missouri, for example, less than 7% of the population is agrarian – farmers. Most of the population is centralized in Kansas City and Saint Louis. The metropolitan areas get a lot of attention from candidates – that is where the majority of votes are.
The 7% of farmers would have 7% of the voice in an Electoral process based on popular vote alone. Farmers are important cogs in the wheel of our society. We must listen to their needs. In a close election, that 7% is empowered, they are empowered to swing all Electoral Votes to one candidate or the other.
The Electoral College serves our country well. We might not like the outcome – as in 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College Vote. Perhaps Gore was not catering to minorities, that study is for another day.
2008 sees more value in the Electoral College. The race is close – and that means that small states like Vermont with 4 Electoral votes will have an impact on the eventual outcome. Obama and McCain will be forced to give attention to the little guy. This writer likes that aspect of America – the little guy has a voice.
The point is simple – keep the Electoral College – it is fundamental to protecting the voice of minorities.