by A. C. LaMonica
Voting: Does it Really Matter?
Imagine, America’s citizens wake up on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 and go about their daily activities; work, shop, etc. They go home as usual, have dinner, relax, and go to sleep. No one votes.
What would happen? Would this cause a huge catastrophe? Would it be governmental chaos? No doubt such an historic event would grab the world’s attention but more importantly, who would be the next president of the United States of America?
The brutal truth of the matter is that this would cause no strife amongst the ranks of the current system: the Electoral College. Put in the simplest terms, the popular vote (the one we are encouraged to participate in each election) has absolutely no legal significance in deciding an election. Ultimately, we make our vote but the Electors have the final say.
With the presidential election nearing, it is virtually impossible to go a day without hearing which candidate did or said what etc. Who got the gold? Who’s running out of campaign money? Huckabee said what?! Not surprisingly, most Americans overlook the more fundamental issue within the voting system itself. I’d like to believe that every vote counts but how could I?
In doing my own personal research on this subject, I was lucky to make it out without my head exploding. It truly is an unnecessarily complex system that technically defeats the purpose of a democracy!
I realize that simply getting rid of the Electoral College is far-fetched but the majority of reasonable Americans should agree that the system needs reform at the very least.
In order to avoid any possibility of spontaneous combustion, I will not go in to all the details surrounding this on-going debate. However, I do recommend everyone take some time to read up on the Electoral College and the arguments for and against. One helpful site can be found at http://people.howstuffworks.com/electoral-college.htm. Also, Joe Bialek wrote an interesting article called Refining the Electoral College in the November/December 2007 edition of The Humanist.
I would like to share a brief interview I was able to get with Congressman Gene Green of the 29th Congressional District of Texas. Congressman Green has been pushing to abolish the Electoral College because he feels that the popular vote is a more accurate measurement of the people’s will. What a crazy idea, right?
Path of Reason: We continue to hear the phrase "every vote counts" when election time nears. With our society stressing the importance of voting, does every vote count under the Electoral College system?
Rep. Green: No - Our presidential elections are winner-take-all, state by state.
POR: Some opponents of direct popular vote claim that abolishing the current system would result in an "urban power grab" and simply shift the focus to large cities. What is your take on this perspective?
Rep. Green: Presidential nominees do that now. Large urban media markets are where they spend most of their time.
POR: One issue in the Electoral College is the problem of "faithless Electors," or Electors who cast their vote for someone other than the person they pledge to elect. If the Electoral College is to exist, shouldn't it simply be illegal for an Elector to change his/her vote?
Rep. Green: Yes.
POR: As the debate for and against the current "winner-take-all" system rages on, is it more feasible to work towards a compromise? If so, are there any reasonable alternatives that reflect the current system but also, the will of the people?
Rep. Green: Yes, we could base electoral votes on congressional district with the remainder going to the winner of the state.
POR: Do you see any noticeable shift in support for or against the Electoral College?
Rep. Green: After 2000 and 2004, there was some shift toward supporting a change.
POR: How should Americans go about getting more support for abolishing or refining the Electoral College?
Rep. Green: Contact your members of Congress.
Thanks to Congressman Green and his assistant Jesse for taking the time to reply to our request!