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Overhauling the Electoral System: A proposal

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Like many Americans, I was deeply perplexed by the 2000 Presidential elections. Al Gore had recieved 500,000 votes more than George Bush, and yet Mr. Bush somehow became President. I was less perplexed by the 2004 elections, considering the result just an extension of the previous vote count. In fact, I began to believe those who stated that there was no point in voting, since our votes didn't really matter anyway.

I will not deny that voter caging and suppression occured. I saw Fox News call Mr. Bush the winner long before the tally was officially finalized. I believe that wrongdoing, quite possibly criminal in its scope, was a factor in the selection of Mr. Bush as President. But all of that is history now. It does us no good to go on about it, since it's clear that no amount of digging will have any effect other than to remind us of things we all know but cannot change today. We must work toward changing the current electoral system if we're to prevent such events in the future.

One of the things I believe must be changed is the electoral college. Though in every other respect I believe our Constitution to be representative of the most perfect form of government currently known, the electoral college is not able to deal with a population so much larger than that imagined by our Founders. But in order to bring about change in the electoral system, we must first understand that system.

According to the Constitution of the United States of America, the citizens of this country do not actually cast their votes for the President, but rather for state electors who support a particular candidate. Each state elects a number of electors equal to the number of Seantors and Representatives active in Congress for that state. These electors each cast two votes for President, one of which must be for a candidate not residing in his or her home state. The votes are certified and sent to the President of the US Congress, who tallies the votes and announces the next President of the United States.

The most glaring flaw in this system is the concept of two votes per elector. While the system worked well with fewer than about twenty states and a significantly smaller national population, it was not designed to hadle fifty states, a very large population and a two-party system of government. In fact, with each elector casting two votes and because of mathemetical concepts more advanced than I am capable of explaining or even fully understanding, it is now possible for a person to be elected President while at the same time winning citizen vote counts in as few as 11 of the 50 states that make up this country -- and this without the influence of political parties or criminal wrongdoing.

In today's technological world, the Electoral College is obsolete and archaic. It is no longer necessary to have each state represented by a set of electors determined by the number of members of Congress. I would like to propose the following simplified reform of the electoral system.


Each citizen who chooses to be involved in the process would cast one vote for the candidate of his or her choice. These votes would be tallied at the city or county level, and each city or county would cast its vote at the state level according to those tallies. Following the same guidelines, each state would count the votes of its cities and counties and vote as indicated by a simple majority. In the event of a tie between candidates, the count of individual citizen votes would be used to determine the state vote. The actual selection of President would be based on the votes of each state, with ties being resolved by a count of city and county votes.

I believe this simplified system of election would be of great benefit to this country. It would encourage individuals to become active in the election process by eliminating the potential for the citizen vote to be overturned by a fluke of mathemetics. It would also reduce delays in necessary recounts by recording votes in a stepped format, making counts more easily traceable, and virtually eliminate potential for abuse by individuals or special interest parties. It would also serve to level the field someewhat for third-party candidates.

This overhaul of the eletoral system would require ammending our Constitution. But given the benefits to our nation, I think it's worth the work involved in making it happen.

 

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Eric Newcomb is an anthropologist and amateur historian, as well as a musician, poet, writer and web applications developer.

As a father and husband, he dedicates much of his political energies to ending poverty and homelessness, ensuring (more...)
 

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If the elected officials don't do what the peo... by Daniel Geery on Thursday, Aug 9, 2007 at 1:45:28 PM
How do we fix people is a pertinent question, yes,... by Eric Newcomb on Thursday, Aug 9, 2007 at 2:31:04 PM
Please focus on the roots of the problem, not the ... by Tim Riley on Thursday, Aug 9, 2007 at 3:03:07 PM
Isn't what I propose a form of election reform... by Eric Newcomb on Thursday, Aug 9, 2007 at 4:41:47 PM
What you are proposing is a Constitutional Amendme... by Tim Riley on Thursday, Aug 9, 2007 at 6:25:55 PM
I can understand your anger at the current state o... by Eric Newcomb on Thursday, Aug 9, 2007 at 7:53:03 PM
...courses of action.  I believe the limitati... by Tim Riley on Friday, Aug 10, 2007 at 3:24:20 AM
You may be right, sir, about time and resources be... by Eric Newcomb on Friday, Aug 10, 2007 at 9:19:11 AM
New York casts 31 or so votes in the electora... by Robert Chapman on Friday, Aug 10, 2007 at 3:58:57 PM