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NEWS FLASH: Electoral College Votes Are Based On the Popular Vote in Each State

By       Message Jean Hay Bright       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   16 comments

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Bulletin from the United STATES of America -- Donald Trump won the popular vote -- in 30 of the 50 United States of America.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the remaining 20 states and the District of Columbia. Her wins are confined to the Northeast, West Coast, two upper Midwest states and two in the Southwest. That's it.

Look at the map. That's a lot of Red State real estate.

Winning the popular vote in each state is what grants a candidate the Electoral College votes assigned to that state. Yet the push this week is for the elimination of the Electoral College and going with the single national popular vote total.

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Not a good idea.

First of all, to go that route, we would need a Constitutional amendment, since the Electoral College is written right into that document. Not an easy task, particularly considering that the Red States would have to go along with this idea, a change that would lose them much of their political clout.

Plus, the devil is in the details. For instance, if we're looking for a single national total, shouldn't all ballots across the country be the same, with the same list of candidates? That would require all candidates of whatever party or non-party to have equal ballot access, not just Democrats and Republicans. That fight would not be pretty.

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Then there are issues like voter ID requirements, different state registration deadlines (same day registration or 30 days prior?), felon voting rights, etc., all of which would need to be standardized.

The complexities of basing the presidential winner on the national popular vote are simply overwhelming.

And then what do you do when the totals are questioned, as they are this week?

For instance, at this point, it looks like Clinton earned 63,314,580 votes to Trump's 62,655,171, a difference of 659,409, or one half of one percent of the total votes cast. In most states this would trigger an automatic recount. But how do you recount the entire election, nationally? Particularly when some states vote on paper ballots and other, usually more populated, states have hackable voting machines with no paper trail?

But what concerns me most is that the idea of a national popular vote deliberately ignores the fact that we are the United STATES of America, a political structure which I think is rather clever, and certainly not outdated.

Our nation from the very beginning and remains today a collection of individual states, united at the federal level for a limited number of common purposes, defense and promotion of the general welfare among them. Election of a president by raw popular vote would eliminate any recognition of the existence of the 50 states as individual entities. It would be a denial of our basic political structure which has allowed for us to be such a diverse nation, yet one with a common uniting heritage.

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Basic civics -- The US Senate is comprised of 100 senators, two from each state. The House of Representatives has 435 members, with each Congressional District by law representing roughly the same number of people. That gives California 53 members of Congress, while the six least populated states (North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Delaware, Vermont) each have one House member. Each state's Electoral College vote total is based on how many House members it sends to Washington, plus one for each Senator (two per state). Washington DC has been allotted 3 EC votes.

To recap: 435 House members, 100 U.S. Senators, 3 votes from DC, gives us a national total of 538 Electoral College votes. Half of that number (269) plus one is the magic number of 270 to win the presidency.

To reiterate -- even now, Electoral College votes are granted based on who won the popular vote in each state. Recounts in a given state are possible if irregularities warrant them.

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Writer and political activist Jean Hay Bright is now semi-retired, running an organic farm in Dixmont Maine with her husband David Bright. Her two political books are "Proud to be a Card-Carrying, Flag-Waving, Patriotic American Liberal (1996), (more...)
 

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