Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Electoral College Remains the Last Line of Defense Against Democracy

Yesterday, members of the Electoral College around the country met in their various states in order to elect the next President of the United States. As Brian Bakst of the AP reports in the Duluth News Tribune, one of Minnesota's electors cast a vote for John Edwards instead of John Kerry, the winner of the popular vote in the state.

That the election of the President of the United States is subject to the whim, mistake, or political statement of 538 individuals should be of no surprise to anyone. One of Al Gore's supposed electors from the District of Columbia chose not to cast her vote in the Electoral College for Gore in to protest D.C.'s lack of representation in Congress. In 1988, one of Michael Dukakis's supposed voters voted for Lloyd Bentsen for President and for Dukakis for Vice President. With the addition of this year's "faithless elector" from Minnesota, there have been 157 electors in the Electoral College in our country's history that didn't vote for the winner of their state's election.

Faithless electors may be the most frequent and obvious departure from the will of the people that the Electoral College provides, but it is by no means the worst. The Electoral College allows the minority to rule over the majority, discounts the votes of half of America, and encourages Presidential candidates to campaign in only one-third of the country's states. Hardly the stuff of democracy, be it representative or direct.

We are attacked as a country. We go to war as a country. We pay our taxes as a country. We darn well ought to elect our leader and Commander-in-Chief as a country too. The time is long past due for the citizens of this country to accept the mantle of responsibility for electing our leader. The Electoral College should be abolished in favor of the direct popular election of the President.

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