Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

Columns

October 24, 2012

House of Burgess: The Electoral College dropout

There’s no justification for system to continue

Kokomo — Thirteen days from today, voters across the country will head to the polls to select our next president — kind of. The Electoral College assigns each state a number of delegates equal to their representation in both houses of Congress. These delegates are supposed to vote for president based on the outcomes of the elections in their respective states. This dubious system has deemed that voters in the following 10 states will be the ones who determine our new leader this cycle: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. That’s it. None of the other 40 states or Washington, D.C., will have anything less than a 90 percent probability of a Mitt Romney or Barack Obama winning, according to the latest aggregated polling data from the New York Times blog FiveThirtyEight. For example, FiveThirtyEight currently lists the chance that Indiana’s 11 Electoral College votes will belong to Romney as 99.5 percent – a near certainty.

The Electoral College is the racist appendix on the body politic, a holdover from the early days of the nation when the abomination of slavery loomed large. When the originators met in 1787 in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention, almost half of the assembled Founding Fathers owned slaves. The vast majority of these unfortunate souls were imprisoned in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Southern delegates expressed concern that if direct elections were to determine the president, Northern states would always hold sway. However, they figured if the numbers of slaves were counted towards each state’s proportional representation, these agrarian areas would then have more of a say.

But, wait, you might be asking, these slaves weren’t considered “people” in any other sense, but instead property — how could they be counted? The answer was the so-called “Three-Fifths Compromise” in which 60 percent of the slaves would be counted for representational purposes.

The framers of the nation knew this was problematic even as they were creating this broken compromise. Future president and “Father of the Constitution” James Madison wanted the popular vote to determine the president, but knew it wouldn’t be accepted. “There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people,” reads the Records of the Federal Convention. “The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.”

Since we’ve all since decided slavery is wrong (and we do all agree on that point, right?) there’s no legitimate justification for this ridiculous system to continue any longer. Alas, it persists. Yet, this wouldn’t even be so horrible if the Electoral College vote always affirmed the popular vote.

Of course, it hasn’t. In 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000, the winner of the popular vote did not win the presidency. If you think I hate the Electoral College, just ask Andrew Jackson, Samuel J. Tilden, Benjamin Harrison or Al Gore what they think about the subject. And you want to know the worst part of all this? Electoral College delegates aren’t even required by federal law to cast their ballots in the manner prescribed by the popular vote in their respective states. They’re called “faithless electors,” and though nearly half of all states have laws against such actions, no one has ever been officially punished for changing their vote.

This, despite the fact that it’s happened a total of 158 times in the history of this country. It’s a shame they already assigned a meaning to the term “faithless elector,” because that’s pretty much how I feel.

• Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at rob.burgess@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robaburg.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Hicks: Measuring the unmeasurable

    One aspect of economic research I think is especially powerful is the ability to measure or monetize the things that humans clearly value but for which a market price is not necessarily apparent. This is one of the aspects of economic analysis that gives it such dominance over other social sciences.

    April 17, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: Bush presents 'The Art of Leadership'

    On April 5, “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” opened at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The display, which runs through June 3, boasts “portraits of more than two dozen world leaders” painted by Bush, according to the official literature.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bohanon: ‘Economics is fun’ in Vegas or in Bible study

    I am writing this on an airplane to Las Vegas. I’ll be attending the annual conference of the Association of Private Enterprise Education along with two of my colleagues and six of my students.

    April 16, 2014

  • Hayden: Want better teacher ratings? Ask the kids

    The state may be back where it started, encumbered with a flawed teacher grading system, a year after implementing what were meant to be tough new standards.
    That was the general consensus of the State Board of Education days after teacher evaluation data were released last week.

    April 15, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Mike Pence for president in 2016? Stay tuned Mike Pence for president? The swirl of 2016 national ticket talk surrounding Gov. Pence intensified over the past few weeks. I sat down with the governor in his office on Tuesday to find out what he's really thinking. A few hours prior, the Weekly S

    April 14, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Such a thing as too much My wife and I went on a binge last week. If you think I'm talking about an eating binge, you've never seen how thin we both are. If you think I mean a shopping binge, you don't know how cheap we are. And if you think it was a cleaning binge, you've n

    April 14, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Chewing over news in bite-size vignettes Today, I am going to share a few "opinionettes" about current news items. Ready? Let's go! City prosperity The unemployment rate in the United States is down to 6.7 percent. This is its lowest level since October 2008. When I remember government effo

    April 13, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Finding measure of value One aspect of economic research I think is especially powerful is the ability to measure or monetize the things humans clearly value but for which a market price is not necessarily apparent. This is one of the aspects of economic analysis that gives

    April 13, 2014

  • PUBLIC EYE: Right across the county line

    Grant County has wind problems, and as an editor recently and quite rightly noted, “Wind doesn’t care about county lines.”

    So Grant County’s issues over a proposed E.ON Climate & Renewables wind farm are becoming Howard County’s issues as well.

    April 13, 2014

  • RAY DAY: My wife and life, Ramona Today, I will tell you a story about my soul mate and wife, who has been with me for more than 57 years now. Time has gone by so quickly, it only seems like yesterday when we met. Her name is Ramona; I call her Moni for short. Her friends call her Ra

    April 12, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller