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    • Maya Spier Stiles North

      Columnist, Copy Editor
    • November 10, 2016 in Columnists

    The electoral college dinosaur belongs in the fossil field

    The Electoral College was necessary when communications were poor, literacy was low, and voters lacked information about out-of-state figures, which is clearly no longer the case.
    Every citizen’s vote should count in America, not just the votes of partisan insiders in the Electoral College.
    Gene Green

    I turned 14 years old in 1969, the year my age mates and I were first introduced to Civics in school. Daughter of two dyed-in-the-wool Democrats, I knew that “Democrat = good” but at that point, due to my parents’ tendency not to teach us much of anything, I did not have the concomitant concept of “Republican = bad.” That came much later, after years of often shocked and horrified observation. Sadly, only a few exceptions such as Colin Powell have come by, more often proving my point by virtue of being exceptions.

    I also remember my absolute horror once the electoral college was explained to me.  (Here’s the Wikipedia about it:  US Electoral College via Wikipedia ). I could not believe that a president could be chosen by the people (popular vote) but still lose because of the electoral college. The Wikipedia article explains it well, so I won’t waste my breath about the mechanics of it. This is about the rightness and wrongness of a system that abrogates the expressed will and voice of the people.

    According to History.com (History.com Presidential Facts ):

    • In 1824 Andrew Jackson won the popular vote but got less than 50 percent of the electoral votes. John Quincy Adams became the next president when he was picked by the House of Representatives.
    • In 1876 Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but lost the election when Rutherford B. Hayes got 185 electoral votes to Tilden’s 184.
    • In 1888 Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but lost the election when Benjamin Harrison got 233 electoral votes to Cleveland’s 168.
    • In 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election to George Bush. In the most highly contested election in modern history, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount of ballots, giving Bush the state’s 25 electoral votes for a total of 271 to Gore’s 255.

    And now, we have the debacle of 2016 where Hillary won the popular vote (at last count, Trump had 47% of the popular vote with 59,611,678 votes and Hillary had 48% with 59,841,018) but lost the electoral vote 228 to 279 (according to this website: Google’s 2016 election results page ). What does this mean? The people wanted Hillary. By the numbers, they wanted Hillary. But according to the electoral college, the aggregate voice of the people is essentially meaningless. Each state votes and whoever wins in that state (for the most part) wins all the electoral votes for the state, no matter what the people say nationwide.

    It seemed appallingly wrong to me then, almost 50 years ago, and it seems even more so now.

    If this is a nation of the people, for the people and by the people, then how do we excuse the voice of the people being rendered mute by this? The founders of this nation may have had good reason for creating the electoral college, but this country and this world have changed exponentially since then. It’s also important to note that when the electoral college came into being, women had no rights and black people were property. Sometimes, it’s just time to move on.

    We have a monster coming into the White House, although it remains to be seen if his upcoming trials for child rape and fraud (stemming from the abominable Trump “University”) turn out to be major monkey wrenches in the gears (one can hope). He’s a beast that the people of this nation rejected, but thanks to an antiquated and outmoded system, has been rammed down our collective throats.

    We have a lot of work to do, but first on our agenda must be to rid ourselves of a political dinosaur that has silenced our voices, given a miscreant access to the nuclear codes, empowered an agenda that includes racism, misogyny, xenophobia and homophobia, and endangers the vulnerable everywhere. Until then, of the people, by the people and for the people has nothing to do with the government that rules us.

    And, as it turns out, it’s quite possible to do. Behold!  According to text on a petition which can be found on a Daily Kos petition (Daily Kos Action Sprout petition about the electoral college if you want to either read the original, sign the petition or both):

    Eliminating the Electoral College does not even require a constitutional amendment. An effort known as The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an agreement among several U.S. states and the District of Columbia to award all their respective electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote. Once states totaling 270 electoral votes join the compact–which only requires passing state laws– then the next presidential election will be determined by the popular vote, not the Electoral College.

    As of November 9, 2016, ten states and the District of Columbia have signed the compact, totaling 165 electoral votes. So, we are already over 60% of the way there. If we can make this a national issue now, and if Democrats can do well at the state level in the 2018 midterm elections (which could happen under President Trump), then the winner of 2020 presidential election will be determined by popular vote.

    So, rather than give in to despair, which is so easy to do, let’s get busy with this crucial and entirely doable first step to taking our power back and ensuring that the will of the people is never cuffed, strapped and thrown in the river again!



    • I’m SO glad you wrote this column. I was thinking of the same topic, but you did a fabulous job. The Electoral College is antiquated and unfair, and it must GO.


        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • November 11, 2016 at 6:02 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you so much. I am so furious that the voice of the American people was silenced. Now we can only hope that the electoral college will vote its conscience…



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