The Electoral College should be abolished
The Electoral College is no way to pick a president. California Sen. Barbara Boxer knows it, and so should any American voter interested in stopping the distorted way in which the United States elects its president.
A system that allows candidates to ignore heavily-populated states is no way to run an election.
Boxer, who is retiring after serving for two decades in the Senate, is well aware that her legislation to abolish the Electoral College is going nowhere this fall in a Republican Congress. Her decision to file the bill instead helps fuel a debate that should lead to change in future presidential elections.
Republicans will file it under sour grapes, but even President-elect Donald Trump called the Electoral College a “disaster for democracy” in 2012 (he also maintains he could have won the popular vote if he needed to by campaigning more in heavily populated states, a very real possibility).
The final vote count is still pending, but Hillary Clinton leads Trump by about 800,000 votes, nationally. If her lead holds, as expected, it would mark the second time in five elections that someone has won the popular vote but did not win the presidency.
Proponents’ main argument is that the Electoral College allows small states without huge population numbers to have a say. Presidential candidates, they argue, otherwise wouldn’t bother campaigning in states such as New Hampshire or Iowa.
Consider this. Two-thirds of the 2016 presidential campaign occurred in just six states: Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan. According to nationalpopularvote.com, 94 percent of the campaign was conducted in just 12 states. A total of 24 states had zero campaign events, defined as a public event in which a candidate solicits state voters. States that are not in play routinely have lower voter turnout than states where the campaign plays out.
California and its 38 million people had one campaign event. So did Texas and Illinois. New York had zero.
Voters in those states didn’t have the proper opportunity to hear from either Clinton or Trump on issues. Silicon Valley is credited as the engine driving the economy, but tech issues took a back seat during the campaigns to issues of interest to potential East Coast and Midwest voters.
This is no way to decide an election. Polls have for years shown overwhelming, bipartisan support for choosing a president by popular vote. As for the Founding Fathers’ wisdom, they also denied women and African-Americans the right to vote, period.
California, thanks to 2011 legislation by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, is one of 11 states that formally endorsed electing the president by national popular vote. Assuming Boxer’s bill fails, the National Popular Vote bill could take effect if it was enacted by enough states to control a majority of the 538 electoral votes. The 11 states that have enacted the bill represent 165 electoral votes, or 61 percent of the 27 that are necessary.
A system that allows candidates to ignore the nation’s most heavily populated states, year after year, is no way to run an election. The United States should abolish the Electoral College.
A system that allows candidates to ignore the nation’s most heavily populated states, year after year, is no way to run an election.