If it weren’t for the Electoral College, we would soon be inaugurating President Hillary Clinton. If it weren’t for the Inaugural College, we would likely never have had a President George W. Bush and all the disasters that followed. No wonder Republicans love the Electoral College. They haven’t won the popular vote for the presidency since 1988. It’s also no wonder they want to abolish the popular vote.
In an OpEd in the conservative blog, the Reason, writer Eric Boehm argued that ONLY the electors should vote and no one else.
It’s difficult not to agree with some of the argument. Boehm suggests that the Founding Fathers didn’t trust Americans to think for themselves, and there is some truth to that and they were right, to an extent. In their days, literacy was not for the common man and today, well, we fall for fake news.
Yes, get rid of the popular vote. For all the money, time, and attention paid to the presidential race, the actual votes cast on Election Day are basically meaningless. In non-swing states, votes are literally meaningless. Even in states where a small number of votes could change the outcome of the election, your vote and mine are still so insignificant as to be practically worthless, as Reason editor in chief Katherine Mangu-Ward explained in detail in 2012.
The only reason to hold popular votes for president, as the system functions now, is to select the “electors” from each state who will participate in the Electoral College.
Here’s a better way. Hold a national lottery to determine the 538 electors (drawing an appropriate number from the voter rolls of each state) and then let those people choose the president.
According to Boehm, this would ensure that people who actually care about the election would be the ones voting. It would also free the rest of us up to do whatever we want to be doing, or whatever we need to do to keeps our lives on track.
While it might be appealing to take the masses out of the equation, Boehm’s solution does absolutely nothing to solve the problems created by the Electoral College. A vote in Wyoming, for example, is worth four times what a vote in California is worth. In other words, the Electoral College isn’t even representative, let alone democratic.
The other huge problem with the Electoral College is that it’s designed to keep white people and people in power in power. It’s also designed to suppress the vote and it leaves women and minorities without a voice at all.
Obviously, I can’t know what Boehm’s motives are, but it’s clear that the motives of the Republican party are to keep minorities from voting, wherever they can. The demographics in this country are changing quickly. If it weren’t for the Electoral College, it’s doubtful we’d ever have another Republican president, at least unless they dramatically change their platform. As for the lottery he proposes, well, who’s to guarantee the lottery would choose engaged voters? We’d still have uninformed voters, just a lot fewer of them.
Featured image via Sarah Rice/Getty Images.