Eliminate the Electoral College
By Don, don@smalldog.com

I was out to dinner last night and started talking to the waitress about politics (yes, I can’t help myself, I talk about politics in my company newsletter and to strangers, too!). She was very nice and explained that while she votes in local elections she refuses to vote in national presidential contests as a matter of principle because our President is not elected by popular vote.

I tried to explain that a small rural state like Vermont benefits disproportionally from the electoral college system, that in essence, our vote is more valuable than a vote in a more populous state. I didn’t make much traction. Not that she convinced me, but I think ultimately I do agree that it makes most sense to elect our President by national popular vote.

Each state gets a lot of representation through the Senate and House of Representatives. I think that more than any other office, our President must be a leader of all the people and it just seems to make sense in the time of information overload that it become a true national contest.

Some of the downside other than the reduction of the impact of the more rural and less populous states is also that Presidential candidates might also just spend less time in rural states, not spend campaign time or money on those states, concentrating their efforts where the most people/votes are located. On the other hand, that is pretty much what happens anyway so I do not think this would be a meaningful change from the status quo.

Back in the eighteenth century when information and people were slow to move, the Electoral College system made sense. Most citizens did not have enough information to choose, many were illiterate and a national campaign for President was impossible. Our founding fathers devised a system that was representative and, for the time, democratic. My guess is that if they were sitting around a table now, devising a system for electing the President that it would be a “no-brainer” to provide for direct election by popular vote.

We have already seen the impact of the Electoral college seven years ago when Al Gore received significantly more votes for President and yet, George Bush, with the help of the supreme court and Florida’s weird election rules and results, became President over the will of the people as expressed by their votes. It is time to change this antiquated system and provide for direct national election of the President by popular vote.

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