SUPPORTING THE ELECTORAL VOTE SYSTEM

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^ the votes likely to be cast when the electors authorized by Article 2, section 1.3 of the Constitution m on December 19th pursuant to procedure set forth in the 12th Amendment thereto. (New Hampshire’s 4 have now been allotted to Hillary Clinton.) Could the numbers change further, in her favor, as additional ballots are counted in three or four very undecided states ? Yes. But that is not the point

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Much angst is being heaved at the electoral vote system by which our nation elects Presidents. It happens whenever the electoral loser wins more actual people votes. We too, at Here and Sphere, supported Hillary Clinton, who won many more people votes — at present count, 560,000more — than Mr. Trump; but we do NOT support eliminating the electoral vote. What follows is our argument for why the electoral vote system: but first let me quote the Tweftrh Amendment to the Constitution, the rule which sets forth the  procedure that governs electing a President (and a Vice President) :

Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution – Wikipedia

The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.[Note 1]

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.[1]

The key phrase of this entire rule is this : The Electors shall meet in their respective states. Our electoral procedure is grounded in STATES.

Ours is a federal system, and the Constitution is a kind of treaty by which the parties to it federate as STATES that retain powers of their own. Therein lies diversity, a prime motive for political and social connection in our nation, then and still.

Granted, that much of the Constitution’s original assumptions about state sovereignty has been traded for a necessary uniformity of basic human and civil rights (as well as the uniform guarantees agreed to in the Constitution itself). We all accept now that no state can legislate away the civil rights guaranteed to all by. the Constitution as amended. There is, however, no compromising the essential guarantee given to all states by the electoral vote procedure : that the Federal President is chosen by the STATES.

The federal President is NOT President of the people; he or she is President of the STATES. Because he or she is President of the Stares, his or her election — and his or her campaigning, his or her political calculation, his or her policy making — must respect the existence of many states with differing policy priorities. Thus the electoral vote process gives basic sanction to political diversity; policy diversity;. debate and controversy — and all of it arising bout of local decisions.

The electoral voting system empowers locally participatory politics. It is good for political participation to be local first; to be neighbor to neighbor, within a community of interest, and not to be subsumed within the general conclusion.The opposite method of electing a President would negate political diversity. Candidates would no longer need to campaign to all the states and intensely to the “battleground” states, would not need to organize there, would instead have to raise much, much more money — than the already ungodly amounts needed — to run nationwide political ads.

For all these reasons, we reject a plebiscite method of electing our President.

It is argued, contra, that to give very small states a disproportionate electoral vote is to disparage the voters of very large states such as California, Texas, Florida, and New York. We disagree wit that position. First, the electoral votes of the various states are quite proportional already. The extra weight given to unpopulous states is that which the Constitution’s Article Two, Section 1.3 covenants :

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

 Thus the electoral vote number equates to the number of legislators agreed to. In that regard, it must be remembered that the Constitution’s grant of two Senators to each state, regardless of population, is itself a guarantee of state equality. That the populations of our 50 states vary enormously is no argument for discarding state autonomy: because population numbers change, and today;’s small number states may be tomorrow’s big numbers; and do not discount the degree to which a state’s policies may encourage in-migration or the reverse. Again : our system promotes state diversity — the liberty for a state to innovate, or to follow one course of policy rather than another., We already see it, as some states pursue regressive social (or economic) policy while others embrace progressive ones. We may decry the one or the other;l but how can we decry the state system that enables states to act locally ? Local is the surest, the truest, the most effective way to forge policy decisions.
And yes, today’s winner of the popular vote but loser of the state vote may tomorrow be the opposite; and the cry to eliminate state voting will come from the other side, with no stronger reason than is talked of this time.
For all these reasons, we strongly support the state-based election procedure adopted in the Twelfth Amendment. Diversity and complexity are, in our view, the surest safeguards of national liberty and unity.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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