Let’s Abolish the Electoral College

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Insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. –  Albert Einstein

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History Of the Presidential Elections

Since the beginning of the millennium we have had five presidential elections. During three of them, the winner got fewer votes than the loser. In 2000, and again in 2020, the outcomes of elections resulted in Constitutional crises. In fact, the election of 2020 still isn’t  over even though Joe Biden received more than six million votes than Donald Trump, as well as 72 more electoral votes.

Let’s briefly review what happened in 2000 during Bush vs. Gore. On election night – just like this year – the election was too close to call. Clearly, whoever won Florida’s 25 electoral votes would win the election.

Texas Governor George W. Bush, the Republican, was ahead of Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat, by a few hundred votes, So clearly, a full count and a subsequent recount would be needed.

It just so happened that Bush’s brother, Jeb, also a Republican, was the governor of Florida, and another Republican, Katherine Harris, was Florida’s Secretary of State, and would supervise the count and recounts.

After more than a month of acrimonious counting and recounting, Bush emerged with a winning margin of 571 votes out of more than 5.4 million votes cast. Both sides agreed to let the U.S. Supreme Court settle the outcome once and for all.

Appointment Of The Justices Of The Court

Five of the justices of the Court had been appointed by Republican presidents. Clarence Thomas was appointed by the Bush brothers’ father, President George H.W. Bush. Four were appointed by Democratic presidents.

The Court voted along party lines, anointing George W. Bush the 43rd president of the United States. Albert Gore accepted the result, even though he had won the popular vote by 540,000.

The Constitutional crisis was finally over. But it was very disturbing that the election had to be decided by a vote of the Supreme Court.

In 2016, although the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, received almost three million more votes than Donald Trump, the Republican, Trump received 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 234 – a victory Trump termed “a landslide.”

Considering that Trump won three normally Democratic rustbelt states – Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin – by razor-thin margins totaling just 80,000 votes, perhaps “landslide” might not have been the most accurate description of the outcome of that election.

Trump Considers Himself The Winner

Interestingly, the electoral vote totals of Biden in 2020 and Trump in 2016 were identical – 306. But Trump considers himself the winner this year. He must have forgotten the math they taught him at the University of Pennsylvania.

Clinton, who clearly despised Trump, graciously conceded the election on Election Night. Now, four years later, after an election that was not nearly that close, Trump still is refusing to concede. In fact, he maintains – without any proof -- that the election was rigged, while making an all-out effort to deny the will of the electorate.

Although he has virtually no chance of succeeding, he could not care less that he was subverting our democratic form of government. In fact, if given the choice of either accepting his loss or preserving our democracy, which outcome would Trump choose? We all know the answer.

It is beyond dispute that our system to elect presidents is no longer working. In fact, the problems it would cause became quite evident as early as the election of 1800, and were repeated in 1824 and 1876. But these periodic crises could never have happened if we had elected our presidents by counting just the popular vote.

Abolish The Electoral College And Replace It With National Popular Vote

Now, with an aspiring autocrat refusing to give up his presidency even after a clear-cut electoral defeat, our democratic form of government is being degraded, if not entirely destroyed. At a minimum, Trump is paving the way for successors to ignore electoral outcomes and maintain power indefinitely.

Aside from all the problems that have arisen in determining who has actually won two of our last five presidential elections, we need to return to a basic electoral principle: One person, one vote.

That is how it works in every state election. Each registered voter gets just one vote. Everyone’s vote counts as much as everyone else’s. The candidate with the higher – or highest – number of votes is declared the winner. That’s true democracy.

Clearly, we need to drastically change the way we elect presidents. We must abolish the electoral college and replace it with the national popular vote. Everyone gets one vote. It’s as simple as that!