It has been five days since the presidential election, and I have to say that I am still rather sore about anything that says “vote” or “election.” If I’m going to let this out, then I certainly have no hope of keeping my politics (what little I have) a secret, so we’re just going to head full force into this train wreck.
This year marked the first year I was eligible to vote in a presidential election. I was so excited that I even dashed around my college town trying to find a notary public in the 45 minutes I have for a plan period. (Let’s just say that God blessed me by keeping the cops on the other side of town that day.) I really was disappointed that I had to vote absentee and wouldn’t be able to actually show up at the polls, but I wanted my opinions to be important to my country, so I was content to mail them. And mail them I did! During the previous election, a mere four months shy of eligibility, I had felt so powerless and insignificant that I was determined not to let that happen again.
The silly thing is: I don’t know if my vote actually counted. Sure, my party won in my county, and my party won in my state, but does that mean I actually helped? My state has voted red since 1968, and this year marks the fourth election that all counties have voted Republican. So, really, I’m following the norm. Logically, I know that my vote counted toward the local elections and state questions, but the box I was so excited to mark? I don’t know. Because you would think that if a state voted unanimously for one candidate, that it would affect a large part of the election. Except that my state didn’t. Seven electoral votes don’t go very far when the election is won by 126 votes. Seven electoral votes barely make a drop in the bucket when other states have 29 and 55 votes. If we were talking ages, how many people would raise their hand and say that a 7-year-old is wiser and more knowledgeable than a 55-year-old? Yes, my state is small, but it is not worthless. 24 out of 50 states voted Republican, and considering that Florida’s popular vote was determined by 0.9%, that seems to me like a fairly even race. When everyone was predicting that the election would come down to 29 electoral votes, that seems like a pretty huge discrepancy. Barack Obama received 61,907,639 popular votes, and Mitt Romney received 58,648,640 popular votes. Clearly, Obama won the race, but with a difference of only 3,258,999 popular votes – a percentage difference of 0.02704% – there is something wrong with the electoral votes.
“The founding fathers established [the Electoral College] in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.” Or, as I have always understood, the founding fathers believed that most of the nation’s original citizens were uninformed and uneducated; therefore, they were unable to rationally elect a leader without some help. Surely that is not the case any longer? Additionally, the founding fathers were afraid of a monarchy or an oligarchy, and that is why our country was developed as a democratic republic. I’d say they did a pretty good job of preventing such a thing. Now, every citizen in our country 18 years or older has the right to vote. However, many people don’t vote because of the Electoral College. In my Republican state, Republicans do not vote because they know that the Republican candidate will win. In my Republican state, Democrats do not vote because they know that the Republican candidate will win. Then, when the election results are posted, and everyone can see how insignificant 7 electoral votes really are, we just shake our heads and hope that the bigger states knew what they were doing. How worthless must our citizens feel before we make a change to our Constitution? “The presidential election is held every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. You help choose your state’s electors when you vote for President because when you vote for your candidate you are actually voting for your candidate’s electors.” That direct quote from the U.S. Electoral College’s website does not sound very democratic to me. Here’s another quote, this one from their FAQ page: “What proposals have been made to change the Electoral College system? Reference sources indicate that over the past 200 years, over 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College. There have been more proposals for Constitutional amendments on changing the Electoral College than on any other subject. The American Bar Association has criticized the Electoral College as ‘archaic’ and ‘ambiguous’ and its polling showed 69 percent of lawyers favored abolishing it in 1987. But surveys of political scientists have supported continuation of the Electoral College. Public opinion polls have shown Americans favored abolishing it by majorities of 58 percent in 1967; 81 percent in 1968; and 75 percent in 1981.”
The Electoral College is supposed to reflect the views of the people of the nation, but this nation is finally at a point where the people would be better served if they could declare their own views. We would see more people at the polls and more people with a political and social investment in each election rather than a people sitting around with their fingers crossed.
Quotations taken from the website of the U.S. Electoral College.