Sunday, June 06, 2004

The Electoral College Is Undemocratic

Imagine if the headlines in November 2000 had read “12 million votes thrown out in the presidential election!” Essentially, that’s what happened, although not in such an attention grabbing fashion. Approximately 12 million ballots were cast above and beyond the number required for either Bush or Gore to win the electoral votes in any given state, and thus over 11% of all ballots cast were ultimately superfluous to the Presidential outcome. For example, the moment Gore’s total exceeded Bush’s in New York the additional one and a half million votes he gained meant nothing.

As we approach the 2004 election already we are witnessing the terribly deleterious effects of our electoral system as only 18 states have been identified as “swing states” and they are receiving the bulk of campaign stops and advertising. As a Californian I can’t help but feel slighted that neither candidate feels they need to earn my vote. It is time to scrap the electoral system in favor of direct democracy so that candidates have an incentive to put forth a broad message that attracts all of America and not just particular regions. The current system is not only unfair but undemocratic.

The 2000 election was peculiar because the man who ended up with the most electoral votes lost the popular vote for only the fourth time in U.S. history (the other three came in the 19th century). Bush’s legal team had in place a Constitutional challenge in the case that he had gained the popular vote and Gore the electoral victory (which was the prediction at the time) and therefore, we know that Constitutional arguments against the electoral college exist. Too bad Gore’s legal team didn’t have the nerve to pursue a similar challenge. Ironically, the arguments are likely premised on the Equal Protection Clause, which the Supreme court ultimately used in Bush’s favor in Bush v. Gore in such a perverse manner that they made sure it could only apply to Bush v. Gore 2000 and no subsequent cases.

J.S.

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