Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Electoral College (EC) is it still relevant?

The Electoral College (EC) is it still relevant?

7 a) The EC, how does it function?

The EC was a method established by our founding fathers to facilitate the electoral process considering the lack of communication technology at the time. While not a perfect solution it did serve the time. The question is does it serve us now?

How does this process work, exactly and does it represent the will of the public?               Source for below: Wikipedia                                                                                                                         “The United States Electoral College is the institution that officially elects the President and Vice President of the United States every four years. The President and Vice President are not elected directly by the voters. Instead, they are elected by “electors” who are chosen by popular vote on a state-by-state basis. Electors are apportioned to each state and the District of Columbia (also known as Washington, D.C.), but not to territorial possessions of the United States. The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of members of Congress to which the state is entitled, while the Twenty-third Amendment grants the District of Columbia the same number of electors as the least populous state, currently three. In total, there are 538 electors, corresponding to the 435 members of the House of Representatives, 100 senators, and the three additional electors from the District of Columbia.

Electors are almost always pledged to particular presidential and vice presidential candidates, though unpledged electors are possible. Except for the electors in Maine and Nebraska, electors are elected on a “winner-take-all” basis. That is, all electors pledged to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes in a state become electors for that state. Maine and Nebraska use the “congressional district method”, selecting one elector within each congressional district by popular vote and selecting the remaining two electors by a statewide popular vote. Although no elector is required by federal law to honor a pledge, there have only been very few occasions when an elector voted contrary to a pledge. The Twelfth Amendment, in specifying how a President and Vice President are elected, requires each elector to cast one vote for President and another vote for Vice President.

The candidate that receives an absolute majority of electoral votes (currently 270) for the office of President or of Vice President is elected to that office. The Twelfth Amendment provides for what happens if the Electoral College fails to elect a President or Vice President. If no candidate receives a majority for President, then the House of Representatives will select the President, with each state delegation (instead of each Representative) having only one vote. If no candidate receives a majority for Vice President, then the Senate will select the Vice President, with each Senator having one vote.

Critics argue that the Electoral College is inherently undemocratic and gives swing states disproportionate influence in electing the President and Vice President. The Electoral College gives a numeric advantage in the election of the president to the smaller states, as the minimum number of electors for the small states is three compared to one for the election of representatives. On the other hand, the winner-take-all method of voting favors the larger states. On four occasions, most recently in 2000, the Electoral College system has resulted in the election of a candidate who did not receive the most popular votes in the election. A number of constitutional amendments have been proposed seeking to alter the Electoral College or replace it with a direct popular vote.”

stay tuned for more on this subject next week

Term limits – public opinion

6 g) Term limits – public opinion

I think the battle lines on this are well drawn, but what about public opinion?

“Americans Call for Term Limits

Virtually no partisan disagreement on these long-discussed constitutional reforms

by Lydia Saad

PRINCETON, NJ — Even after the 2012 election in which Americans re-elected most of the sitting members of the U.S. House and Senate — as is typical in national elections — three-quarters of Americans say that, given the opportunity, they would vote “for” term limits for members of both houses of Congress.

Americans' Support for Establishing Term Limits for Federal Lawmakers, January 2013

Republicans and independents are slightly more likely than Democrats to favor term limits; nevertheless, the vast majority of all party groups agree on the issue. Further, Gallup finds no generational differences in support for the proposal.

These findings, from Gallup Daily tracking conducted Jan. 8-9, are similar to those from 1994 to 1996 Gallup polls, in which between two-thirds and three-quarters of Americans said they would vote for a constitutional amendment to limit the number of terms that members of Congress and the U.S. Senate can serve.

It seems to be a no brainer. Great support for term limits from founding fathers and current public opinion. In fact public opinion on this issue has not changed in over twenty years. So why not change? Let’s see, who exactly initiates such a change.

Source for below items:                                 “Best Answer:  You are absolutely correct that term limits would help to fix a lot of what is wrong with the political system. Unfortunately, term limits can only be implemented by those same people who have a vested interest in opposing them. There is no way that the people currently in power will ever allow a change of the rules. The only way that change is going to happen is by the citizens voting in representatives who run on a platform of supporting term limits, and then having them follow through on it. It won’t actually require a constitutional change, just the will to get it done.”

·         “There are only two ways to amend the constitution. 1. Two-thirds of both houses of Congress vote to propose an amendment 2 Two-thirds of the state legislatures ask Congress to call a national convention to propose amendments. (This method has never been used) We know that Congressmen will never vote to limit their own terms, so the only possible way is through the state legislatures. This would require an organized, well-funded national campaign. The only people who could afford such a campaign are the guys who already own the senators. Think about it. Would you rather pay once and own a senator for 20 years? Or have to constantly buy-out new senators every 6 years? The elite benefit from having no term limits, so they would not likely pay for a national campaign to change this.”                                                                                                                                                                                                     Does our democracy still exist? If you are a true patriot I suspect you find the preceding depressing. I certainly do.



Term limits & the Founding Fathers, Jefferson has still more to say!

6 f) Term limits & the Founding Fathers, Jefferson continues

Jefferson never specifically mentioned rotation of office in the House of Representatives, though that, too, may be assumed to be included in the following more general statement with regard to the proposed Federal Constitution:

“I dislike, and greatly dislike, the abandonment in every instance of the necessity of rotation in office and most particularly in the case of the President.” –Thomas Jefferson to J. Madison, 1787.

Source for below paragraph:                 “Given the evolution of our country, the greater power appended to every office and the tendency for even the office of Representative to become perpetual, one suspects that he would include that also along with other elected offices as requiring rotation. Moreover, one would think that those who agree with Jefferson today and believe that there should be term limits, would have the integrity that he displayed and begin the practice themselves, perhaps even making it a point of honor for other Senators and Representatives to follow suit. That argument is countered with the opinion that such a voluntary act would be to the detriment of the representative’s political party, and therefore that is sufficient reason for dispensing with such a proposal. But is our government organized for the benefit of the people, or for the benefit of the legislators and their political parties? As Jefferson would say, “there never will be a time when real difficulties will not exist and furnish a plausible pretext for dispensation.”

Cross References

To other essays in The Jeffersonian Perspective

Government Serves the People

To Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government