The 2016 Presidential election results are nearly counted and the outcome appears to be that Clinton won the popular vote, yet Trump is President thanks to the Electoral College process. While I was not enthralled by either candidate, I did decide to vote for the first female president and what I believed to be the sane candidate. No matter which way the vote went, it feels intrinsically wrong that the winner of a simple majority of the popular vote does not become the chief executive.
If the final tally of this election holds Clinton as the winner of the popular vote, she will be the fifth person in our history to enjoy a majority of the voters’ approval yet not gain the highest elected office in the land. The last time this occurred was in 2000 when Gore fell to Bush. It was not right then and it is still not right today.
In a democracy, for better or for worse, the majority is supposed to rule. To see the people’s chosen candidate thrown down inspires voter apathy, not to mention disgust. The new President enters office with the knowledge he or she does not enjoy the support of a majority of the voters in the country. I find it hard to consider such an official to be a legitimate representative of my country. It is time for the Electoral College in the United States to go the way of other out-dated concepts removed by constitutional amendments.
Amending the Constitution is no small matter. The process requires an act of Congress, no less, or two-thirds of the states may call for a convention to propose an amendment. The amendment passes when the legislatures of three-fourths of the states in the nation vote to approve. Such a task seems insurmountable, yet it has been accomplished numerous times. The Congress actually proposed an amendment to do away with the Electoral College in 1969. The proposal passed the House, but not the Senate. It would have allowed direct election of the President and Vice-President with a run-off vote if no candidate received more than 40% of the vote.
The State of Maine, where I live, just approved on Nov. 8, citizen initiative legislation that creates a ranked voting system. Because our last few gubernatorial elections have been split by three candidates, the resulting governor did not receive a simple majority approval. Maine wants her top elected official, and federal congressional members, to derive authority via the support of a majority of her voters. Each voter selects a first, second, third, etc, choice. If there is no majority winner, the candidate who receives the least votes is eliminated and those votes go to the second choice on each voter’s ballot. The rounds of voting continue until a majority winner emerges. In this manner, voters need attend only one election to select a clear winner in a close three-way race.
Ranked voting would also work for the Presidential race where there are three or more strong candidates. This method is easier to understand and fairer than the rules and outcomes of the Electoral College.
Guess it’s time for me to start agitating my Congresspeople for an amendment. If millions around the country did the same thing, we could have direct election of our President and Vice President. Perhaps we would even feel our vote meant something since the person we elected would get to take office.