Electoral Bait & Switch
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.
Let’s say you’re part of a committee to design a new Presidential-election system and you’ve been asking people to submit ideas. At that point someone walks in and proposes a system that resembles the current Electoral College system. The committee members look at each other, trying to control themselves.
“Excuse me, sir, but are you saying that the value of the popular vote in each state would be different and that the votes in some states might be worth almost three times as much as others?”
Yes, but . . .
“And a candidate could end up getting all of these – what do you call them, ‘Electors’ – whether he wins the state by just one vote or one million votes?
That’s true, however . . .
“And you’re saying that the number of Electors for each state is allocated by a census that may be 10 years old?”
Okay, but let me explain . . .
“I’m very sorry, sir, but this committee is only considering serious proposals.”
If it were presented today, the current Electoral College system wouldn’t pass the laugh test.