the 1/5 compromise electoral college

WELP. let’s get political and talk about the electoral college. why? because i THOUGHT i knew why it was in place and actually tended to agree, being a rural person, then i read something that contradicted it, so now i’m out for the TRUTH. in this world of fake news, i’m hoping that katerrific.com can provide you with some facts and more truthiness than trumpiness (read – lies). 

right now, hillary clinton has a popular vote margin of 2.8 million votes. MILLION!! al gore had 500,000 more votes than GW in 2000. GW won by SCOTUS appointment in 2000, and now DT will win by electoral college in 2016. 

at this point, if you live in a less populated state, say, in the rocky mountain region, your vote is one of the most valuable in the country. if you live in a densely populated state on the coasts, your vote is crap. If you live in wyoming, your vote has the same power as about 4.5 new yorkians*. this “everyone’s vote counts”? not true. 

these days, the reasoning behind the electoral college is that if it weren’t in place, candidates wouldn’t pay attention to flyover states and instead do most of their campaigning on the coasts in well-populated areas. 

but is this what the founding fathers had in mind? they couldn’t have predicted the current reach of the country or the populations back when the college was put into place. 

so what were they thinkin’?

well, some wanted congress to elect a president. others wanted a group apportioned to the states’ populations so that there would be no collusion amongst congressmembers. and some wanted a popular vote.

however, there was concern with a popular vote in the southern states due to slavery. they figured the south could have no effect in the election because voting rights were much more extensive in the north (because slaves couldn’t vote; you’d think they’d think that through…). so, in a way, they were concerned about population, just not the one you are currently thinking. 

they set up the electoral college using the 3/5 compromise (which they used to elect population-based congressmembers and figuring taxation).

alexander hamilton’s had a resurgence lately. he thought there were some good things about the electoral college: the electors weren’t federal representatives, so in theory they wouldn’t be able to elect based on party affiliations OR someone influenced by foreign interests. hamilton was also concerned about someone gaining office who was unqualified and more along the lines of “low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity”.

obviously the electoral college has morphed from the 3/5 compromise days, but its unfair representation of people is still has a stronghold. the number of electors a state is allotted equals the total number of congresspeople (number of representatives plus the two senatemembers). the number of representatives states have is kind of wonky, also, and not truly representative of their populations. but that’s another story; we’re talking about the electoral college right now.

we’ve had five presidents elected who’ve lost the popular vote: in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016. in 1824, no candidate got the minimum number of electoral votes, so the choice went to congress. in 1876, rutherford b. hayes won by ONE electoral vote. in 1888, we have an electoral college situation similar to what we have currently, but with a much, much narrower margin of votes. we all know what happened in 2000 (hanging chads). and now we have a popular vote winner with a margin of nearly 3 million votes losing to the electoral college winner. 

so the current thought is that without the EC, the low-population states wouldn’t get the same attention or representation. guess what – when you think about it, they don’t get a lot of attention as it is. if we’re worried about the general populace not being informed enough to make a logical decision (which the founders were concerned about in the 1700s WHEN THERE WAS NO PERVASIVE INFORMATION DISBURSAL), that is definitely not the case**.

at this point it seems that the EC is so disproportionate that it needs a revisit. when one voter’s say is 1/5 of another voter’s say, that’s worse than the southern states’ 3/5 compromise. our current voting system (and house of representatives) is representing the american people in densely populated states worse than slaves in the 1700s. think about that for a moment. 

that, my friends, is what i would call a degree of disenfranchisement. and what we don’t want to become is a country that stifles its core beliefs of representation. time to get rid of the electoral college† and revisit how the house of representatives is allotted***. 

*http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/map_of_the_week/2012/11/presidential_election_a_map_showing_the_vote_power_of_all_50_states.html

**unless you count fake news, countless lies and promises not intended to be kept, etc. etc. but lack of information or ability to research a candidate is NOT a problem. ability to discern what is correct and is incorrect, probably is.

***another thing low-population states are worried about: not getting the money and support from the federal government they need. i don’t know; at this point, i’d say it’s pretty up in the air who has it better or worse: urban or rural people. besides, urban people contribute WAY more to the tax base than rural areas do because of the number of people. they should, in theory, get more spending, and can get kind of defensive about it. now, i like a decently paved road as much as the next person, but i also know that i spend some time in the cities as well, using their roads. i don’t spend as much time roaming around grand rapids. anyway, that’s also another story. 

†another option could be to allot votes within each state according to whom it voted for. so minnesota’s 10 votes would be like, 6 for clinton and 4 for trump, instead of all 10 for clinton. it would be more in line with the popular vote, and it would allow the third-party candidates to show up on the map and maybe start an insurgence of third-party candidates, which would be really really nice.

One thought on “the 1/5 compromise electoral college

  1. liz

    and this is why i read your blog (besides you being my sister and being interested in your life) – you do all the research leg work so i don’t have to and can still be an informed citizen. thank you!

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