Thursday, January 24, 2013

Electoral College Re-Engineering

You really do have to hand it to the Republican Party. They got licked real good in the Senate, and they got trounced in the Presidential election. But does changing demographics get their goat? Do they just say to themselves we have to change because the country is changing?
Obviously not.
Obviously, because they are now engaged in Round 2 of cheating at the polls. Polling place intimidation tactics adopted by Teabaggers in the last election didn’t work. The black guy got re-elected. Voter ID laws in several states didn’t work. The black guy got re-elected. Discouraging voter participation by purging voter rolls didn’t work. The black guy got re-elected. And finally, guaranteeing long lines at the polls, not only during early voting, but on Election Day didn’t work. Barack H. Obama, the 44th President, and the first African-American president, got re-elected.
That was Round 1. In Round 2 we are going to see Republican-dominated state houses change the way they participate in the Electoral College. They want to change the rule from winner-take-all to winner of the congressional district gets the electoral vote.
Now the populist in me doesn’t see the wrong in this on its face. On its face it seems right, even more democratic, that one’s presidential vote should not be negated simply because you live in the wrong state, as I do. Houstonians and Austinites had their majority votes nullified because Texas is overall rural and red.
But then you have to look at the reality and look at the statistics.
In 2012, 65,899,557 votes (51.06 percent) went for President Obama and 60,931,959 votes (47.21 percent) went for Mitt Romney. Electoral votes for Obama came to 332 (61.7%) and Romney received 206 (38.3%). Yet if you look at the House, a completely different picture emerges.
In 2012, while the Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives garnered a majority of the popular vote (53,952,240 votes for Democratic candidates compared to 53,402,643 for Republicans) exceeding Republican votes by nearly 550,000 votes, there are at present count 233 Republicans in Congress, and 192 Democrats.
How could that be? How do we elect a Democratic president by a majority vote and a Republican House by a minority vote? How do Republicans outnumber Democrats by 41 elections?
The answer, certainly, is all the jerrymandering that has taken place recently in the red states. Depending on how you draw the district lines, you dilute the Democratic voters in one district by drawing district boundaries to create huge Democratic advantage districts. It’s simple math, really.
So by changing the Electoral College vote to voting one elector per congressional district, rather than winner take all you make matters worse. You guarantee a president elected by minority vote.
The Founders must have considered this, along with the notion that rural states are more disadvantaged than urban states in having their votes actually count for something. The Founders had it right.
I find the hypocrisy exquisite. When Republicans defend the 2nd Amendment they fawn on the Founders. But when the Founders’ ideas for the Electoral College need changing because they keep Republicans out of the Oval Office they speak of a fluid process.
The answer lies in putting federal elections under federal rules. States should be allowed to run elections but not allowed to change the rules for how federal offices get filled.
Invocation of the Supremacy Clause should do it.

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