The Electoral College and the “Popular Vote.”

Chamba SanchezBy Chamba SanchezNovember 28, 2016
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screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-4-20-55-pmMost people are still puzzled and cannot fathom as to why La Hillary got about two more million votes than Trump, and she is still not moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next January. A straightforward American political system is not “pure democracy.”

I agree with pundits and the political class that argued that Hillary didn’t have an economic message for uneducated whites who were disgusted with the economic and cultural transitions that this country is going through. Also, five states that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 voter for Trump. Yes, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, they all went for Trump.

For those who think that it is undemocratic for a candidate to get the majority of votes and still losing an election, you should know that this country does not have a full-fledged democratic political system. In essay ten in the Federalist Papers, Madison addresses the problem with democracies, ”they are spectacles of turbulence and contention, and there is nothing the protect the weaker party.” The Framers saw democracies as a threat to freedom and even argued that these systems were just some sort of transitional political systems that will eventually lead to anarchy. “A Republic,” Madison argues, in this very same essay, in which “the scheme of representation takes place,” will be more equipped to protect the “weaker party’ which he meant the minority. And in essay 39, Madison fully defined what he meant by a “Republic,” “we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior.” Yes, “directly or indirectly,” the powers will come from the people.  Electing the judicial people and the executive individual, voters will have no direct involvement in the process.

Going back to the “popular vote,” forty-eight states use the “popular vote” to allocate electors to the two presidential candidates. Although It is possible that when all the votes are collectively counted one candidate might get the majority of votes but still loses the election. Now with Hillary, this has happened five times throughout history. Anybody who is blaming the Electoral College should ask a simple question: Why hasn’t Hillary said anything about the Electoral College? Because she knows blaming the Electoral College is silly. She blamed the FBI. I have heard many people making moot arguments and even starting a petition drive to get rid of the Electoral College. It is not that easy, in order to get rid of the Electoral College, the Constitution needs to be amended. That will require 2/3 members of the House of Representatives and 2/3 of members of the United States Senate to approve a said amendment. Then, 3/4 of the states have to agree to such an amendment. There must be a robust movement for this thing to happen.

Debating the Constitution in 1787, the framers disagreed over two fundamental questions: What democratic process should be used in electing the Presidents? Second, What theory of Federalism should be utilized in electing the head of this branch? This was a heated debate and there were other proposals put forth in this convention but were rejected. One of them proposed that Congress should have the sole responsibility to elect presidents. Nevertheless, the Hamilton and Madison thought that would be too divisive and it would also go against their vision of having a political arrangement with separate powers. In the end, they decided to embrace a process in between. This process is fully explained in Article ll, Section 1 of the Constitution.

Every four years, voters in this country like to engage in futile exercises-they want to get rid of this institution.  This is how the Electoral College works: The number of electors assigned to each state is based on the number of representatives that each has in both houses of Congress. That is, California has 53 House of Representatives and two US Senators in the Senate. Therefore, California has 55 electors in the Electoral College being the largest delegation. In total,  there are 438 houses of representatives and 100 Senators totaling 538 electors.  A presidential candidate needs to get 50% + 1 of these 538 electors to become president, which is 270 electors’ votes [538/2 = 269+1 = 270].

All the states but Nebraska and Maine practice what is called “the Winner Takes All,” which means that the presidential candidate who gets the majority of votes in a particular state, that candidate will get all the electors from that state. Nebraska and Maine distribute the votes proportionately based on the percentage of votes a presidential candidate gets. Okay, let us use this table below to illustrate how this process works. Let us say we have three states, and each state gets one elector for every ten residents, then State A will get ten electors since it has 100 residents and so forth for the other two states. In-state A on election day, La Hillary will have won all electors since she just got way more than the 51% of the votes needed. She got 80 votes. She lost the other two states, and Trump won the election.  Since more electors voted for him because he got more votes in the other two states,  La Hillary got the “popular vote,” and Trump won the election.

Larger states might give the candidate who lost the election the majority of votes.   I looked up the number of votes each candidate got here in the State of California, and if one looks at the table below, Hillary got almost four million more votes than Trump. This might be the very reason as to why she got the national popular vote. It is also important to point out that Trump did not spend a dime in California for the apparent reason that he had no chance here.
Had Hillary won votes in states where it was consequential,  we would have a new president-elect today If she had won just one hundred thousand mores votes in all these three states below where the election was very closed: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, she would have won this election.  I want to point out that there is movement currently going on to have a recount in these states.

The Electoral College is in alignment with the federal system in which much power rests with the states. Yes, the state can change the way how electors can be chosen.

Finally,  I want to say that I was privileged to be one of the 55 electors in 2004 here in the State of California.  The other fifty-four electors who were with me that day in Sacramento were connected to the political power and some of them are currently holding elected office-Mitch O’ferrel and Ted Lieu being a couple of them. Reading the Federalist Papers, I was utterly taken aback by the description of electors in these essays and the actual electors gathered that day.  Here is the list of those electors that day some of you might know people on this list.

Thank you for reading.



Works Cited

California Secretary of State, California General Election. “President – Statewide Results.” Web. Accessed 27 Nov. 2016.

Epstein, Richard A. “Are you smarter than the constitution? The founders knew what they were doing.” Hoover Digest, no. 2, 2013, p. 67+. Academic OneFile, www. Accessed 27 Nov. 2016.

Hamilton, Alexander, James Madison, John Jay.  The Federalist Papers. Ed. Clinton Rossiter, and Charles R. Kesler. New York, N.Y: Mentor, 1999. Print.

Richie, Robert, and Andrea Levien. “How the 2012 presidential election has strengthened the movement for the National Popular Vote plan.” Presidential Studies Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 2, 2013, p. 353+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 27 Nov. 2016.

Savage, G. David. “Colonial-era legacy that has modern implications.” Los Angeles Times 11 Nov. 2016: A7. Print.

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