NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Point of View: Electoral College needs to be scrapped

I strongly disagree with your contention that the “Electoral College serves us well” (Our Views, Dec. 18). The fact that twice in this century alone the person who won the majority of the popular vote (by millions) did not gain the presidency makes this exquisitely clear.

The Electoral College system was a major compromise made by the Founding Fathers in order to get smaller states on board with signing the Constitution. Small states like New Hampshire (population 88,000 in 1780) feared getting overrun by larger ones like Virginia (population 538,000 in 1780), so the Founders offered this, plus equal representation in the Senate, as concessions. They never could have imagined the vast discrepancy in today’s population between small states like Wyoming (550,000) and California (39 million).

Also at the time of the creation of the Constitution, much of the population was illiterate, and those who could read had little access to current information about issues or candidates. Part of the plan was that the “so-called more educated and enlightened” could better speak for their less well informed brethren in the selection of the president. In essence, you voted for a person you personally knew (an “elector”) who would help select a candidate you would approve of. It made a fair amount of sense at the time. Again, the Founders never could have imagined that 240 years later almost every adult would be at least functionally literate and everyone would have access to immediate current information.

Today, with the Electoral College system, only voters in a handful of so-called “swing states” decide the presidency every cycle. Even in strongly one-sided states like Oklahoma, no candidate ever carries 100% of the vote. The typical breakdown of the vote is rarely over 65-35. So a great many people in non-swing states feel that their vote doesn’t count. For every “blue” voter in a strongly “red” state who feels their vote was wasted, there is a “red” voter in a typically “blue” state who similarly feels disenfranchised. This tends to discourage voting by followers of both parties, because they feel their state’s outcome has been predetermined.

This is not a left-right or red-blue issue, nor a large state-small state issue. It is about fairness to all and assuring that the country gets the president the majority of the people want — a fundamental of “small d” democracy. My vote should count exactly the same as anyone else’s, no more, no less.

Our Constitution has been amended three times to reflect changing attitudes about the election of the president — the 15th, 19th and 21st amendments. It can certainly be amended again to give the power back to all the people.

Davis lives in Edmond.