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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.