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.

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE -

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 na­tion­alpop­u­lar­, 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.

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