The Electoral College System is Under Fire, but Perhaps the US Should Focus on their Presidential System?
16 November, 2016
It is amusing that the Democrats are now calling for the abolition of the Electoral College system, when before the election they had no problems with it. All of their projections showed Hillary Clinton trouncing Trump in Electoral College votes.
They also seemed to have no problem with the superdelegates that rigged their own primary election in favor of Hillary.
But now that the Democrats have lost, some are calling for the abolition of the Electoral College system to be replaced by the simple popular vote system — the candidate with the most votes wins.
Let’s deal with some important arguments so they don’t come up later.
First. According to AP’s count as of November 13, 2016, Hillary Clinton has 60,981,118 votes to Donald Trump’s 60,350,241 votes. (Meanwhile Gary Johnson got 4,164,589 votes and Jill Stein got 1,255,968 votes.)
The popular vote count means that Trump got 47.3 percent of the vote while Clinton got 47.8 percent. It’s a small percentage difference, but it’s significant. Clinton has 629,877 more votes than Trump as of the latest count.
It is interesting to note however that in California and New York, Hillary beat Trump by a combined almost 4 million votes. If not for these two huge liberal states, Hillary would have gotten beaten in the popular voting as well.
Second. We don’t yet know what the actual popular vote is because there are millions of absentee and postal votes yet to be counted. Some pundits say that these normally favour the Republicans. We know for instance that polls of Military personnel indicated an overwhelming favouritism for Trump, and nearly all their votes are absentee or postal votes. Other pundits say these as yet uncounted votes will favour Clinton because a large number are from the big blue states of New York, California and Washington.
Several states, notably California and Washington, have liberal absentee and mail-in voting laws. California, for instance, allows residents to submit ballots up to three days late (although they must be postmarked on or before Election Day). These provisions have made alternative voting pretty popular, and the ballots a bit harder to count. California alone has more than 4 million votes pending; Washington is waiting on another 700,000.
No matter how many of these votes either candidates get, it won’t change the outcome of the election. Hillary Clinton has already won California. Even if every one of the 4 million votes pending went to her, she still wouldn’t win any more Electoral College votes.
So while Clinton may increase her popular vote, it won’t change the number of electors she gets from each electoral college. The same applies to Trump.
Third. According to Greg Phillips of the VoteFraud.org organization, they have completed an analysis of a database of 180 million voter registrations. They concluded that the “Number of non-citizen votes exceeds 3 million.”
If this is true, then a solid majority of the votes cast by 3 million non-citizens, largely illegal immigrants, are likely to have been for Hillary Clinton, meaning Trump might have won the popular vote when this number is taken into account.
Vote fraud using ballots cast in the name of dead people and illegal alien voters was a huge concern before the election. On the morning of the election there were 4 million dead people on U.S. voter rolls. It wouldn’t take much of a programmer to match the register of deaths with the register of voters and discover which dead people were still on the roll. Then a team of people could have done postal votes in their names, or gone round to polling booths voting where ID is not required. This is an excellent argument for voter ID.
Although some states require some form of ID before voting, California, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C. all require no identification before voting.
So there is plenty of reason to question the popular vote numbers. Whether this would have changed the Electoral College vote is another matter altogether.
Fourth. It has been proposed that the electors could become ‘unfaithful’ electors and vote against their constituent’s wishes and elect Clinton instead of Trump. This is an absolute fantasy because the electors are chosen by the party. They would have to turn on their own party. Even those party members who voiced disapproval of Trump, never endorsed Clinton over him.
However the biggest obstacle would be the Republican controlled Congress. Any large-scale defections from Trump would surely be disputed by his supporters in those states, who may well just send in a conflicting set of electoral votes. And an 1887 law holds that if states send in multiple conflicting sets of Electoral College votes, Congress gets to vote on which ones to recognize. The Republican-controlled Congress would obviously not go along with an attempt by electors to steal the presidency for Hillary Clinton.
Having dealt with all the theories and claims about the actual number of popular votes, let.s deal with the Electoral College system. In an excellent article titled ‘The Accidental Genius of the Electoral College‘, Simon Rosenthal explains why the system achieved the fairest result for US electors.
He writes that he approves of the system because it is ‘one of the Constitution’s accidentally great procedural features for deterring the concentration of political power and the resulting abuses of such concentration.’
Rosenthal provides a very cogent argument in his article, the key points are:
– Under the Constitution, the President is elected every four years, the House every two years, and one-third of the Senate every two years. So, to control the federal government, one of the two parties probably has to be popular without interruption for at least four years—at least two election cycles—across both the population and individual states.
Since new legislation requires the approval of the House, Senate, and Presidency, a different party only has to hold one of these entities to create gridlock and restrain federal power.
– Next Rosenthal contends that the Electoral College safeguards against the concentration of political power by one party because of its accidental operation within a two-party system.
The Electoral College has an important function: it transforms elections from one national election into 51 local elections. With the elections managed locally, the federal government has little control over the voting process and cannot systemically tilt the election in favour of a party in power, preventing any party from systematically expanding its power through the voting system.
He also lists a host of ways the electoral system helps prevent voter fraud which wouldn’t be the case in one federal populist vote.
– Rosenthal then presents a map of the 2016 presidential election by county. (see below). Counties won by Trump in red, Clinton in blue in the 2016 Presidential election.
Counties which were won by Trump in the 2016 Presidential election are shown in Red, those won by Clinton in Blue. Would it be fair to have America run by those blue counties?
As seen in the map, Republicans overwhelming won America’s counties and carried rural America. Trump is clearly more representative of most of the US geographically.
The Electoral College system has ensured that the power of the presidency was not determined simply by the populous inner city dwellers.
Finally, I would just touch on something I haven’t seen anyone ask — whether the US should have a presidential election.
Out of about 200 countries only 27 actually hold Presidential elections, with many of the elected Presidents having the ceremonial role of Head of State and often only the ability to sack a parliament and call for new elections — not involved in day to day running of the Government.
In some countries of course you could argue that the President is unofficially pre-determined, such as in Russia or Iran.
But in the US, how democratic is it to only allow those born in the country to run, thereby excluding great candidates who could have arrived in America as babies?
Then the candidate must be able to raise more than $1 billion for their election bid. Wherever that money comes from, you can guarantee there are favors owed.
And unfortunately the US Presidency has become about seeming to be a good leader, rather than actually being one.
Perhaps even worse is that the election process now takes up the best part of 18 months, during which there is uncertainty within the country in terms of future legislation.
Many countries like Australia, Canada and Britain get on fine without a President being able to override the parliament, or being able to make executive orders. We use our head of state for ceremonial purposes and to dislodge any serious impasse in our parliament.
Perhaps the US needs to overturn the Presidential system and authority, not the electoral college system?