In response to Steve Valentino’s June 10 letter, “The brilliance of the Electoral College”:

Mr. Valentino wrote with a dual purpose of standing up for the Electoral College and apparently to ridicule people who seek education to improve their lives. I am responding to his letter because I think the two subjects are significant at this moment in our nation.

Mr. Valentino claims the Electoral College is brilliant because our Constitution is brilliant, but he does not offer any actual evidence or reasons why the EC is so great. Instead of relying on some mythical notion of our forefathers creating a perfect document, it’s important to remember that the U.S. Constitution was a compromise reached by many intelligent people with differing views. Because it was made by negotiations and compromise, it was probably not anyone’s idea of a perfect foundation for self-government. Our Constitution was ground-breaking in human history, but it was not a perfect document: It didn’t end slavery, the right to vote was only given to men with property, etc. My point is that nothing in the Constitution was God’s law. The Electoral College should be viewed and examined with that in mind. It gives more importance and weight to voters in states with smaller populations, allowing in some cases a candidate to lose the popular vote but still win the election. Valentino mistakenly suggests this has happened 15 times in our nation’s history, as if to argue that this situation is normal or acceptable. Actually, it’s happened only three times (in 2000, 2016, and once in the late 1800s). The example years 1992 and 1996 Valentino provides are just plain wrong: In these elections the popular vote and EC agreed, the winner was Bill Clinton (1992 = Clinton 43 percent, Bush 37 percent; 1996 = Clinton 49 percent, Dole 41 percent).

The EC is commonly thought of as a guard against the tyranny of the majority, which is a valid point. I am not advocating for eliminating the EC, but when a minority of voters can outright control the nation, then we have tyranny of the minority, and we have a problem! Perhaps there is a middle ground, where there is a runoff or a coalition government when the popular vote differs from the EC?

It’s a sad day when we vilify people who chose to expand their horizons and grow their brain through disciplined learning. Steve, not all educated people are smart, but most smart people are educated.

Daniel Heyn

Damascus

(38) comments

fnfn

I want a country that has votes that are equal to mine no matter what state I live in! I do not support a slave-based constitution until it is no longer slave based.

DickD

We should have gotten rid of the Electoral College right after the Civil War as it was a compromise for the slave states.

phydeaux994

Of the 45 Presidents, how many have been elected that we’re from “small” States? No one here can explain what advantage the EC gives the “small” States. Trump was elected by “big” States because he got all the Hillary votes because he got the “MAJORITY” of the votes in that State. Explain that jsk, or anybody! PLEASE! Same thing for “W”. The 2 worst Presidents in History were elected by the Electoral College, the last and the worst one an Insane One! MAJORITY of voters were right, just like every other Elected Official in America were elected.

Obadiah Plainsmen

phydeaux, You should voice your outrage at each state, secretary of state. These are the persons that can explain their respective state policy on how electors cast votes. Use Maryland as an example, There has never been a bill introduce in Maryland's legislate to change how the electors cast their vote. whoever gets the majority of the vote, gets all of the electors vote (10). Now is that fair? and is this system fair for Montana, Pennsylvania, Florida?

public-redux

Maryland has enacted legislation that will assign its electoral votes to whomever gets the most votes nationwide even if they lose in Maryland. The law has not taken effect yet, but it was introduced and passed.

Obadiah Plainsmen

Yes but that bill does not change the winner -take -all format. And if you look you will find that the national vote compact has only been passed in heavy democratic states.What would change?

public-redux

Why is changing the winner-take-all format the only kind of change that counts as change? You said MD hadn't' changed how it awards is EVs. Yes, it has.

Obadiah Plainsmen

That darn Electoral College If left to it's original form and [not tamper with in the past 240 years] we would today have a President Trump and Vice-President Clinton. But over time the political evilness of state political parties moved a to winner-take-all rules due to a poorly-considered Constitutional incentive structure that led the states to choose systems that furthered their own partisan preferences over fairly representing the views of the people. Pretty simple whoever wins the majority of the EC is President, 2nd place gets the VP. every vote counts, every vote is heard.

phydeaux994

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/06/opinion/electoral-college-slavery.html

phydeaux994

Explain how the EC works. The EC, along with the 3/5 Compromise, was a negotiated deal between James Madison and Alexander Hamilton and the 7 Southern “slave” States to preserve slavery as the Law of the Land in perpetuity a.k.a. forever. Madison and Hamilton were forced to agree with this convoluted way to give the 7 Southern “slave” States an advantage as a way to gain Representatives and elect the President in order to get the 9 of the 13 States in 1787 that were needed to ratify the new Constitution written by Madison that he and Hamilton so desperately wanted. It worked well. Slave owning Virginians were elected President 4 out of the first 5 Presidents and Virginians were elected President for 32 of the first 36 years of our great Nation. The EC never has had a thing to do with Big States/Small States, East Coast/West Coast/Middle America, Big Urban Centers/Rural America. The EC is a shameful remnant of the reality faced by James and Alexander in Colonial America.

Comment deleted.
besmartten

'you either amend it or leave it alone' I think that is what the discussion is about. Care to discuss or just hurl derogatory names. And of course the "middle ground" is decided by SCOTUS.

Comment deleted.
Thewheelone

secpol, why do you have to insult EVERYONE who writes something against your way of thinking? Are that unable to argue intelligently?

Rick Blatchford

Just two thoughts... Mr. Heyn comments that our constitution "was not a perfect document: It didn't end slavery, [and] the right to vote was [not as inclusive as today]… " Sadly, the Founders didn't have the luxury of hindsight from the 21st Century. They dealt with the world in which they lived and he history that they knew. With regard to the electoral college, Mr. Heyn didn't address what I think is the largest argument for the EC. Go to https://brilliantmaps.com/2016-county-election-map/ and view the 2016 election results by county. I'd be interested in hearing arguments for eliminating the EC which recognize the numbers of U.S. counties that went for Trump.

public-redux

I'd be interested in hearing why you think the number of counties is relevant to either keeping or eliminating the EC.

hayduke2

Rick - counties do not equate to votes, especially gerrymandered counties. Explain what the number of counties has to do with the validity of the EC and election results.

DickD

Thanks, Dan. Still, I would prefer eliminating of the EC.

FCPS-Principal

The EC either produces the same result the popular vote produces, in which case it is pointless, or it produces a result contrary to the result the popular vote produced, in which it is both undesirable and pointless. Unless of course you don't think the people matter.

FCPS-Principal

"...but he does not offer any actual evidence or reasons why'...summarizes the stupid referenced letter adequately.

jsklinelga

For the most part wasted words. Set aside arguing the pros and cons of the EC and first tell how it could be changed. It would take a Constitutional Amendment. That means 3/4 of the States would need to agree to the changes. That is the only path to change. Instead of talking about the near impossible it may be better to focus on the achievable. Many believe that is happening currently with SCOTUS. Correcting the "erroneous precedents" (Justice Thomas) of the last 50 years will go a long way to restoring the Constitutional balance of power making the election of the President less important.

FCPS-Principal

Yes the EC can only be changed via amendment, but it can be rendered moot via laws.

jsklinelga

FCPS There could not be a stronger endorsement for the EC. States, via their laws, can chose their electors as they wish. If they chose the "popular vote" so be it. The "brilliance" of the system. It will be interesting history to see if this new movement backfires For example low voter turnout (due to an uninspiring contender) allows President Trump to capture the popular vote the but electoral margin in the swing States is razor thin. Can you imagine the howls from States like California, NY and Colorado whose electoral votes would give the President an overwhelming majority.

awteam2000

Backfiring? In the 2016 election the difference in % of voters was vastly different from state to state. Wyoming voting 67% for Trump in comparison to Washington DC voting 94 % for Hillary. Population wise DC is bigger than Wyoming. Still not a state. The election came down to Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in which Trump won by a narrow margin of 77,000 votes over 3 states. While Hillary won the popular vote by close to 3 million votes. The electoral college won Trump the election. Now states like Texas, Arizona, N. Carolina, S.Carolina, Ohio, Georgia and Florida are trending democrat. Trump will need to figure out away to not loss historically red states while holding onto three historically democratic states, which he barely won. So, what blue states are shifting red? I can’t find any.🤷‍♂️

awteam2000

The 2018 midterms represented historic numbers of people voting for democrats - local, state and federal over republicans. Independents and democrats led by 31% of voters aged 18 to 29 casting ballots in the midterms, shattering turnout rates from the past quarter century. What’s more significant, is in 3 key states that got Trump over the top to become president, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania all went Democrat for governor and senate seats, in the 2018 elections.

hayduke2

So jsk, your faith in the current SCOTUS is that it will correct precedents that you think were made in error. Can you not see the irony in this statement? What makes you think they will not make the same " erroneous precedents." Is it because you may happen to think they made the correct decision. "We give Supreme Court justices this freedom because we expect them to remain above the pull of politics, to avoid the effects of public excitement and allow a broader view, not tied to the whims of the majority at a certain moment in history."

jsklinelga

hayduke2 SCOTUS went far beyond their constitutional mandate. They invoked the 14th Amendment as a vehicle to countermand State laws in what they "perceived" should be rights. That was not their mandate. The 14th Amendment allowed the federal Government some leeway to countermand State laws.

jsklinelga

Whoops. Article 5 gave the power to enforce the 14th Amendment to congress, not 9 un-elected judges. Read the decisions. Like Griswold where they stated some ambiguous right (penumbra ) should be a right. It was never a legislated right in federal or State law.. Then the following case used that ruling as precedent for the next ruling.. And this occurred repeatedly. Changes are coming. Much needed changes. You want laws changed let the people do it via congress..

public-redux

Rights. Are. Not. Legislated. Legislation can protect rights or fail to protect rights. But rights are not subject to vote. Griswold did not create a right. It invalidated legislation that was intruding upon a pre-existing right. I’m curious if you object to the idea of “legal standing”? I’ve never seen you complain it.

hayduke2

Wait, isn’t the function of the SC to be the final decision maker regarding the interpretation of the Constitution? You seem to have an issue with their role- especially when you disagree or don’t understand their rulings. Your reference to the erroneous precedents is based solely on your world view.

niceund

The writer answered his own questions. The Electoral College gives everyone an equal vote. Without it, only a few states would elect the president, who is supposed to represent us all.

sevenstones1000

The President should represent people, not states. That is the flaw of the Electoral College. People, not states, should elect presidents.

Blueline

Then we wouldn't need the Senate either. The US is a representative Republic of states. Mrs Clinton won the popular vote, but her plurality was supplied by NYC, Chicago, & LA. Most citizens today wouldn't want those 3 areas dictating how the country is run. Though the framers couldn't have seen 240 years into the future, it was that type of situation they were trying to avoid when the EC system was settled upon as a compromise.

awteam2000

Blue, The Senate shares with the House of Reps. responsibility for all lawmaking within the United States. For an act of Congress to be valid, both houses must approve an identical document. How would that change under popular vote for the President?

DickD

So, a dirt farmer in N. Dakota should have more say than a New York City taxi cab driver? Why?

gabrielshorn2013

Seven, why is that? Your assertion is gratuitous.

hayduke2

Which is exactly what happens now! Why are there only a few "swing states"? Why do the least populated states have outsized power?

DickD

So to you it's more important that a few low population states control the U.S. election for POTUS?

public-redux

“My point is that nothing in the Constitution was God’s law.” Well, the Constitution condoned slavery and treated women as inferior to men, just like the bible, so maybe there was just a bit of that god’s law in there.

fnfn

The god of the new testament completed the old testament, where the law did not work. Jesus sayings that he said to keep was about making it like heaven here, instead of hell here!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.