Opinion | Biff America: Blowing a presidential fuse
I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who thought the term was “Electrical College.”
This was years ago when I thought the Department of Labor studied the birth rate. Even back then, I knew it had something to do with how we elect our presidents. I just wasn’t clear what that had to do with a power surge in my diodes.
But even now, as someone who likes to consider himself politically aware, I needed a refresher course — especially since there is a movement afoot to end or alter the process.
I was aware we did not elect a president purely by who got the most votes, but I was unclear why and how.
Each state gets Electoral College votes that equal the number of senators (two for each state) plus the number of the state’s members of the House of Representatives, which is determined by the population. For instance, Wyoming with its small population gets three votes where populated California gets 55 (which somewhat makes up for its earthquakes, fires and Steven Miller).
In almost all the states, if one candidate wins the popular vote by even a minuscule margin, all that state’s Electoral College votes go to that candidate, who needs 270 to win the presidency.
Since even the least populated states get the same number of senators as the larger ones, that means a Wyoming voter has a greater per-capita impact than a voter from a more populous state.
Those in favor of the Electoral College maintain that if the presidential election was determined purely by the popular vote, a candidate might focus his or her policies on the states or regions that allow them to get the most popular votes while ignoring the rest of the country.
Two of our past three elected presidents lost the popular vote. Those on the losing side thought this was an injustice while others felt it was proof that the program worked.
So my apologies to all reading this who, unlike me, went to college or did not live in Summit County in the ‘80s, thus ravaging their powers of recall. I’m aware that this is all old news to many. But since there is a movement to end or reconfigure the process, I felt I needed a recap.
Truth is, I can see both sides.
The fact that the Electoral College was responsible for the Trump administration, in my opinion, is not a reason to denounce it.
But I have much to learn on the subject. In truth, I’m still a little embarrassed I confused “electoral” with “electrical” for all those years. Though I don’t think any of my former teachers would be shocked.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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