Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Electoral College (part I)

Now, for those of you not put to sleep by the title, there is a new push by Sen. Nelson (D) of Florida to abolish the electoral college.
As the state now wrestles with the national Democratic Party to find a solution to seat its 210 delegates at this year’s presidential nominating convention, Nelson noted that “the solution is very elusive,” but that, “If nothing else, this election has provided further evidence that our system is broken.”
First of all, our system is not broken. This election has shown nothing of the sort. The primary elections are not part of the 'system.' They are internal party affairs, and any problems are entirely the fault of the political parties. Leave the electoral college out of it Senator!
Is the U.S. Senate 'evidence' that our system is broken? NO, of course not, it's evidence of federalism. The senate and the electoral college are the two main forums in which states play a role in federal decisions.
Senator Nelson on TV yesterday was urging the abolition of the electoral college in the interests of the principle of "one person, one vote." Each and every person already has one vote, at the state level.
What many people don't realize is the the U.S. has no national elections, NONE. We never have. Every election is a state election, including the one for president. our Federal government is formed not from the top down, but from the bottom up, by the states.
Representative are elected at the state level, then each state sends theirs to Washington, where together they form the House of Representatives. Similarly, Senators are elected at the state level (they used to be appointed by the state government) and sent to Washington to form the Senate.
The election of the President is no different. Electors are chosen at the state level (and they don't have to be elected at all, they can simply be appointed - Const. art. II sec. 1), and are then sent to Washington where they form the electoral college. That college exists for the sole purpose of choosing the president, and they can choose whomever they want. The Senate and House of Representatives count the electoral college votes together and the person with the most becomes the president. After the President is chosen, the electoral college is dissolved until the next presidential election. In the event no candidate gets a majority of the electoral vote, the House of Representatives chooses the president, and each state gets one vote.
The system is perfectly consistent as it is. The state plays an integral role in forming both the legislative and the executive branches of the Federal Government. The individual has a vote and a voice in every election, but it is at the state level. I don't see a good reason to disrupt this. . .
(to be continued . . .)