Electoral Bait & Switch
How the Electoral College Hurts American Voters
And what can be done about it
by Bill Petrocelli (Prometheus Books) to order a copy of the book, click here
Every four years a disaster-in-the-making hovers over America, waiting to undermine our democracy and deprive people of an equal vote. Electoral Bait & Switch shows the harm that the Electoral College does to our nation and what can be done to stop it. “There’s work to be done to change the Electoral system. And the place to start is with this book.” (former Senator Barbara Boxer from the Foreword)
Join the free, on-line Conversation with Bill Petrocelli about the Electoral College
Saturday, Sept 12, 4:00 pm — to join the conversation click here
In conversation with Joel Paul, Professor of Constitutional Law at U.C. Hastings College of Law
The Electoral College has changed radically from the institution that the framers of the Constitution set up to choose a President. It’s now devolved into a mere rubber-stamp operation that has only one function: to distort the result of the popular vote for President. This is a change that would have appalled Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and the other framers of the Constitution just as much as it appalls us.
Electoral Bait & Switch shows persuasively how the current version of the Electoral College violates every principle of “one person, one vote.” Electoral votes are assigned in a way that devalues the popular vote from state to state as much as three to one, while at the same time the Elector system is implemented in a way that perpetuates racial discrimination. The winner-take-all method of casting Electoral Votes by states distorts the vote even further, making where you vote far more important than how you vote. And on top of that, the book shows how the Electoral College system opens the door to Russian interference and other outside influences in the election process.
“This book is a terrific read – well reasoned, persuasive and accessible. It avoids all the legal jargon and appeals to people’s common sense very effectively.”
— Joel Paul, professor of Constitutional Law at the University of California (Hastings Law School) and author of Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times
“The elections of 2000 and 2016 offer us the lesson that the time has come to consider the implications of the Electoral College with great care. Bill Petrocelli has explained this antiquated flaw in the American system with clarity and directness. We dare not ignore his call to action!”
—John F. Rothmann, Radio Talk Show Host, KGO 810 AM San Francisco
“Electoral Bait and Switch is a wake-up call to all who care about fair elections in the US. Reading this timely work, caring citizens will truly understand the Electoral College, how it threatens our nation, and why it must go.
— Rick Steves, author, television producer, travel journalist, and founder of Rick Steve’s Europe
“Every four years, the American Presidential voter takes part in an exercise that’s as close to representative democracy as three card monte is to a fair game of chance. The Electoral College needs to go and Bill Petrocelli’s brilliant new book explains how we got here…and what we can do about it.”
— Brian Copeland, actor, comedian, playwright, television and radio talk show host, and author of Not a Genuine Black Man: My Life as an Outsider
“As Bill Petrocelli’s indispensable book reveals, there is a way for all of us confront the iniquities of the current system, and it begins with understanding the tortuous process of the Electoral College — and then overturning it. This book is a tocsin call that will show you how.”
— Phil Cousineau, author of Once and Future Myths: The Power of Ancient Stories in Modern Times
The Current, Distorted Version of the Electoral College Has to Go!
The 2016 election result was not the way the Electoral College was supposed to work. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and the other drafters of the Constitution would be appalled at the way it has resulted in minority rule.This is not the way it was supposed to work.
The current system is a rogue ship that set out years ago from its original anchorage in the Constitution. It is now floundering—unable to go back to its 18th century moorings but equally unable to reach the safety of the equal-rights amendments enacted since then. It’s a ship that’s ready to sink.
The Need to End it
There’s some guy in Wyoming whose vote is worth three times more than mine. This has been going on in every presidential election for my entire life, and I’m sick and tired of it. How does this happen? It’s because of the way the Electoral College has been rigged to work. It takes about three times as many votes to elect an Elector in California as it does to elect one in Wyoming.
This is a blatant form of voting discrimination, and the sooner it ends the better.
Racism is at the Core of the Electoral College
Throughout the entire 20th Century, Americans became used to the idea that the winner of the popular vote would take office as President. But when the voters’ will was thwarted in 2000 and 2016, it became clear that the Electoral College could seemingly emerge out of nowhere and change the outcome of the election and alter the course of history. But there’s another, long-term harm built into that Electoral College that has been there all along, and that becomes more apparent the more you look at it.
What Did Hamilton & Madison Have in Mind?
The original Electoral College was nothing like we see today. The framers of the Constitution did not create a popular election for President, but they settled instead on a collegial-method of selecting a President through a group of independent Electors. Nowhere in their nightmares did they contemplate that the Electoral college would be used to distort or devalue a popular vote.
The Voters are Getting Swindled
A modern Presidential election is an all-consuming process that lasts for almost two years, costs well over $5 billion, and dominates American life like nothing else. In 2016 there were more than 135,000,000 votes cast for President, making it one of the largest elections in history. Americans are constantly reminded that they’re voting for the most important office in the world. While this long process is going on, the country is inundated with speeches, interviews, promos, news clips, endorsements, social-media spots, and attack ads. Although the political pros knew to focus on swing-states in the latter days of the campaign, candidates spend most of those two years crisscrossing the country throughout the primaries and general election, searching for endorsements and money, and making campaign stops everywhere. Debates among the candidates are carried nationwide, and they become some of the most highly watched shows of the year.
Then, on a Tuesday in November, everything comes to an end when the nation votes. And then . . . and then Americans wait to see if the election will turn out the way they voted or whether something else will happen.
Does the world need another blog? Maybe so. This one is about books and bookstores, social and political issues, and whatever seems important at the moment. You are also invited to to the website of our bookstore, Book Passage, to catch the pulse of a lively, independent bookstore in action.
You can get an idea of the subjects that are likely to be covered in this blog by looking at my novels, Through the Bookstore Window and The Circle of Thirteen, as well as some earlier books described at the bottom of the page. But for the next several months, my attention will be focused on ending the Electoral College. This distorted institution has to be eliminated before it destroys us.
I hope you’ll read along.
There’s nothing funny about the Electoral College. It’s a dangerous anachronism that threatens our democracy. But there are a few bits of trivia about the system that might raise an eyebrow or two, if not bring a smile. Hopefully, something like this will catch people’s attention.
Here is a summary of a running Twitter Quiz that has been running on Twitter (@billpetrocelli) for the last week or so. there are six entries at the moment with more to follow. Here’s “Quiz # 1.” Please click further to get the rest.
#ElectoralCollege quiz #1: How many real votes does it take to get one Electoral Vote? Is it based on the number of votes cast, the number of registered voters, or the size of the voter-turnout? Or is there another link? See #ElectoralBaitandSwitch at billpetrocelli.com
Answer to #ElectoralCollege quiz #1: It’s a trick question. There’s no correlation between real votes & Electoral Votes. Each state gets an allotment of EVs based on a 10-year-old census whether there are 100 voters or 1,000,000 voters. This unfair, corrupted system must go!
Join the free, on-line Conversation with
Electoral Bait & Switch: How the Electoral College Hurts American Voters
Saturday, Sept 12, 4:00 pm
In conversation with Joel Paul,
Professor of Constitutional Law at U.C. Hastings College of Law
sign up for the program
Senator Barbara Boxer says in her Foreword to Electoral Bait & Switch:
“There’s work to be done to change the Electoral system, and the place to start is with this book.”
July 16, 2020
The Electoral College awards states a built-in “voter-suppression bonus.” Those who are in political control of a state can restrict the vote of their opponents as much as they can get away with, and they pay no price for that action in the national political arena. This means that black voters and minority voters suffer the most
Through the Bookstore Window is a novel that explores the grim effects of war, gun violence, and sexual abuse. But it is also a story about love that transcends age, gender, background, and – perhaps – the readers’ expectations.
“It’s a rare mystery that can deliver so much in the way of pure emotional resonance. Bill Petrocelli’s Through the Bookstore Window is such a book. This is a thriller with a heart.”
Janis Cooke Newman, author of A Master Plan for Rescue
If you’re a novelist, there’s nothing better than great quotes from other writers and booksellers. Fame and fortune is nice, but you can’t exist without the respect of your peers. Here are some quotes I love.
Linda Watanabe McFerrin, who heads up Left Coast Writers, calls Through the Bookstore Window “a gripping tale about an enigmatic and fascinating woman who is driven to outrun and outwit her tormentors and fix what is broken.”
He is the author of four books.
Through the Bookstore WindowThrough the Bookstore Window was published in March 2018 by Rare Bird Books. It’s a novel that explores the effects of war, gun violence, and sexual abuse. But it is also a story about love that transcends age, gender, background, and – perhaps – the readers’ expectations. Foreword Magazine calls it “an unusual, rewarding take on the nature of memory: how it haunts and heals, how single moments set the future in motion, and how it binds survivors together in ways they seldom expect.”
The Circle of Thirteen was published in 2013 by Turner Publishing. The theme of the novel is the coming empowerment of women. Novelist Lisa See called it “a true celebration of women in the face of great odds.” It begins with a mindless act of family violence and spans seven decades, finally culminating in the desperate effort by Julia Moro, the U.N. Security Director, to stop a major act of terror. The story is woven around themes of poverty, political corruption, environmental disaster, and the backlash against the rising role of women. Abraham Verghese describes it as “A wonderful, uplifting thriller full of strong and unforgettable women” —
Sexual Harassment on the Job
Sexual Harassment on the Job: What it is and How to Stop it was co-authored by Barbara Kate Repa and published by Nolo Press in 1992. It was the first book published on the subject of stopping workplace harassment and sexual violence. Bill’s note: “We edited the book while watching the Clarence Thomas hearings on TV.”
Low Profile: How to Avoid the Privacy Invaders
Low Profile: How to Avoid the Privacy Invaders was published by McGraw Hill in 1980. It was one of the first books that talked about abuses of data collection by government and businesses and about the future implications of computerized record-keeping. Bill’s note: “This book was written a few years before the invention of the internet. I think I had an inkling of what was coming when I wrote this on page 243:
“And when the next wave hits it will be worse. Technology continues to be the ally of the snooper. Future privacy-invaders will not only be more efficient in getting what they want, they will be much better able to cover their tracks. Informational systems used to have built-in limitations; the very bulk of the material maintained in the system imposed practical limitations on what an individual snooper could glean from the files. But the computer is rapidly depriving us of that protection. At the same time we are increasing the personal information in public and private data banks, we are expanding geometrically the accessibility of that information to those who are bent upon abusing it.”More About Bill Petrocelli