LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Electoral College prevents US from becoming a true democracy

The office of President of the United States is the only position that is voted on by all Americans. We separately vote for our governors, legislators, congressional representatives, and senators.

In each of these elections — save one — the votes are counted, and whoever receives the most votes wins. But in the one election in which we all vote together — which should be to some degree a unifying experience — we are separated into states of different colors, our votes are not treated equally but instead are given different weights depending on which state we live in, and the candidate who gets the most votes does not necessarily win, as we have seen twice in the past 16 years.

One reason that we seem more like the “Disunited States of America” today is because we still choose our highest office under a system that has been outmoded and dysfunctional since at least 1828, but is now clearly undermining any faith in the integrity of our political system, and accentuating the things that divide us as a nation.

The Electoral College system was put into the Constitution as a method for preventing the people from choosing the president, as the framers of that document were afraid that a popularity contest for votes would not result in the best-qualified or wisest men being chosen (and they were, of course, only thinking of men).

The advent of political parties, and various states moving to allow the voters to participate in choosing their presidential electors, soon made this notion quickly obsolete, and by 1828, when “The People’s President,” Andrew Jackson, was elected, the original idea of the Electoral College was dead, as in every state, the eligible citizens were albeit indirectly — voting to decide who was president.

In 1888, the basic flaw in this system was revealed when, due to the fact that all the states had adopted the “winner-take-all” system for awarding their electoral votes, Grover Cleveland failed in his bid for re-election despite receiving more votes from the American people than his opponent, Benjamin Harrison.

That should have been a wakeup call that the system needed to be changed, by a constitutional amendment, to a national popular vote system, in which all citizens vote as Americans for their president and in which everyone’s vote was equal. That should have been clear 128 years ago, but nothing was done.

As a result, now, as we vote for president, we are not united in a great act of patriotic citizenship, but divided into “blue” and “red” states, or “battleground” states, and if you live in a state like North Carolina or Pennsylvania, your vote actually means more than if you live in Delaware or Alabama. That is not good for the country, and it is certainly not good for the ideal of Democracy.

Since amending the Constitution is practically impossible today, I urge the Delaware General Assembly to join the interstate compact of states that are moving to change this flawed system, and make the United States a true democracy in choosing its president, by agreeing, when enough states join together to represent 270 electoral votes, to award Delaware’s three electoral votes to whoever wins the national popular vote.

This would truly be the just and fair way to choose our president, would help alleviate some of the divisions in the country, and make our votes in Delaware equal to those of the citizens of California, Texas, Ohio, or Nevada.

Daniel Pritchett
Dover

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