Electoral Confusion

Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.

The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President; and if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list the said House shall in like manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each state having one vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them by ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.

There seems to be a lot of confusion and ignorance in the United States right now. We held an election this week as the Constitution instructs in the preceding paragraphs but there seems to be a group who do not want to accept the results because Hillary Clinton “won the popular vote.” They think that when they voted, they were actually voting for the candidate and that the results should be based on the number of Americans who voted for the candidates. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was no “national” election, there were 50 state elections and in the District of Columbia. Voters in each state and the District voted to determine who each state’s electors will vote for in the actual election, which will be held on December 19. That is how elections have been held in this country since it was established and is how they are held today.

A few people – mostly Democrats – have expressed hostility toward our system of election. They don’t like it because it allows the nation to elect the president rather than the major population centers, which is what the Founders intended. When the Founders were meeting in Philadelphia, their purpose was to establish a nation of states, a single nation in that there would be a national government whose role would be to represent the interests of the states as a whole. They decided to have a single branch, the Legislative Branch, with one house to be made up of representatives of the states elected by the people and the other to be elected by the state legislatures. The Executive Branch would be administered by a President of the United States, who would be chosen in the manor described above.

2016

The map shows how each county in the United States voted in the recent election. Note that the counties in Red, the ones that voted for Trump, cover the entire country while the counties in blue show up as islands in a red sea. Also note that in most cases they represent large population center. Note, for example, that the state of New York is mostly red except for New York City and the counties along the Hudson River. Other areas represent concentrations of either blacks or Hispanics. In New Mexico, the blue areas are Indian reservations. None of the blue areas represent the national as a whole. It was to prevent areas of high population from controlling the nation – as we’ve seen for the past eight years – that the Founders created the electoral college.

So, who did I vote for when I cast my vote for a straight Republican ticket two and a half weeks ago on the first day of early voting?  Although I was casting my vote for Donald Trump, I was actually voting for the electors who will actually vote for him on December 19. My vote was only to determine for whom Texas’ electoral votes will be cast. My vote does not go into some kind of national poll of votes to be totaled up to determine who the president will be. In the term “national vote” and “popular vote” are erroneous because there is no such thing. Nowhere in the Constitution is a national or popular vote mentioned and there are no regulations pertaining to such a vote. In short, it’s an invention of the media and serves no purpose.

There are “movements” to abolish the electoral college but there are movements for everything. The only way the electoral college can be abolished is to change the Constitution itself. This would require Congressional action and any change would have to be ratified by a majority of the states. In short, those who are protesting the electoral college and seeking to replace it with a single national vote are pissing in the wind.

Advertisements