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It Takes More Than Brains to Graduate from the Electoral College

Updated on January 1, 2016
Politician Brains Cheap!
Politician Brains Cheap! | Source

"The More You Explain it the Less I Understand It." Mark Twain


A recent joint study by Brandine University and the Helvetica Institute discovered that 63% of Americans polled believed that the Electoral College was a school. That's a rather frightening indictment of our educational system.

The simple legal definition of 'Electoral College' is "Nominated persons, known as electors, from all the states and the District of Columbia, who meet every four years in their home state or district, and cast ballots to choose the President and Vice President of the United States."

This has been the crux of the electoral process in this country for many years and is intended to be an integral part of the Checks and Balances in our highest elections. Voting communities elect representatives and confer on them the power to act (vote) on their behalf. This modifies the general consensus to "We the people choose other people to represent us in the process of choosing our President and Vice President".

I had always thought that 'We the people' decided who becomes president. Not.

This definition seems to read as a rationalization or excuse as to why it was invented in the first place rather than stating sound reasons why it exists. Apparently in most states, only the presidential and vice presidential candidates' names, not the names of the electors, appear on election ballots. Should there be geniuses or knuckleheads who actually vote the real candidates into office, they remain well camouflaged and don't appear on the ballot.

Well, slap me with a catfish! Why is this such a big secret? Who are these "electors"? How are they chosen? And how does one find out their names? Are they arbitrarily representatives of one party or the other? Do they simply vote their own conscience without respect to the people? Do they even represent us? And if we want them to change their votes, shouldn't we have the right to lobby them? Did we vote for them? Where do they meet? When do they meet? Do they have birth certificates? Can they speak English? How does one become an elector?

The process varies from state to state but the two most popular methods for choosing electors is:

1) they can be nominated by the state political party as a reward for faithful service, or
2) they can be nominated by party members who vote at state conventions for people actively seeking this position.

Some electors, when questioned, indicated they had 'asked to be electors in the Electoral College' and were simply 'shooed in'. Could this be a form of voter fraud?

And if that doesn't make your hair stand on end - in the popular election, the American people actually vote for electors, not for the candidates themselves.

In other words, we're handing over our "right to vote" to someone behind the scenes. And although the Constitution allows electors to vote for any candidate of any party, it turns out that they usually vote for whatever candidate belongs to the political party that nominated them.

Note the words "they usually vote for whatever candidate belongs to the political party that nominated them." Well, I usually expect my vote to go to the candidate of my choice, don't you? And the results of this system could very well wind up as our epitaph, since the Electoral College structure has led, in a number of instances, to unusual election results that strongly contradict the popular vote. I suppose this indicates that anyone, even a non-citizen could get elected.

Remember the 2000 presidential election? Al Gore won the popular vote, but because of a Supreme Court decision and the Electoral College, George Bush became the 43rd president of the United States? He won by an approximate margin of less than 500 votes in one swing state. Good thing we voted...

While creating the Electoral College was intended as a safeguard to ensure a truly representative form of government where Congress would have the power to settle issues 'not resolved in a popular election', polls have shown that 62 to 74 percent of Americans think the Electoral College should be abolished.

At least the matter rests in competent hands. After all, it's not like Congress ever includes politicians that are corrupt or anything. I can't think of one former governor that was arrested at his home by federal agents and charged with corruption for conspiring to commit "pay to play" schemes, including attempting "to obtain personal gain ... through the corrupt use" of his authority to fill a departing Senator's vacated U.S. Senate seat. Well, maybe one. But no need to worry about him. He's writing a book about it in prison and could come away with more money than he would have made for selling the Senate seat.

We all hope that Congressmen are solid, intelligent, righteous men with high moral standards --and likely, most are. We all hope that they would be among the last people on earth to do something ludicrous like posting nude photos of themselves on the internet. Then again…

But back to the Electoral College, its legal definition does seem to contribute a humorous note to any examination: it seems to indicate that it 'ensured an orderly transfer of power, especially in the two-party system that the United States developed.' It's uncertain who contributed this information.

Proponents of the Electoral College argue that its existence is a necessary component of a Direct Democracy, which many Americans seem to think defines the United States. While in fact, if you remember your Pledge of Allegiance, the U.S is a Constitutional Republic, and that is something quite different. The difference is 'the freedom factor'.

Mark Twain may have nailed it when he proclaimed "We have the best government that money can buy."


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