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ASK THE EXPERTS

A Republic helps guarantee minority rights

POSTED: January 7, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Ever since George W. Bush was elected as President, there has been a push to eliminate the Electoral College and go to a popular vote for electing the President. Had the 2000 election been decided by popular vote, Bush would have lost to Al Gore by 543,816 votes. Bush was not the first President to be elected while losing the popular vote, simply the last.

  

John Quincy Adams not only lost the popular vote to Andrew Jackson, but the Electoral College vote was tied and the House of Representatives chose Adams (1824).  Rutherford B. Hayes (1876) and Benjamin Harrison (1888) both lost the popular vote but won the election.

  

Many of today’s voters are horrified to learn that all votes are not equal, because they have not read the documents leading to the creation of the United States of America. They wonder why the House of Representatives was involved in choosing Adams. 

  

Most folks who have read the Constitution of the United States know that our forefathers did not intend for the Presidency or the Congress to govern or be governed by popular vote.  That is why we were formed as a Republic instead of a Democracy.  A Republic helps to guarantee the rights of the minority. Take a few minutes and think about the minority rights, which would not be in place were we a democracy and only the voice of the majority counted.

  

Article II of the Constitution, as modified by the Twelfth Amendment, explains the creation of the Electoral College and the method of electing the President and Vice President. It clearly states that should the Electoral College fail to give a majority to any candidate, as happened with Adams and Jackson, the Presidency would be decided by the House of Representatives, with “each State having one Vote.”  When you consider the populations of California being over 36 million and Alaska under 700 thousand, nothing could be less democratic.

  

Who gets to cast the votes for President and Vice President? Article II gives each state the right to choose its electors by any “Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” Further the “Number of Electors” will be equal to the “Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.” This means that Georgia has 15 Electors.

  

Since every state is entitled to two Senators and at least one Representative, even the least populated state of Alaska has three Electors. This helps to guarantee the rights of the minority. There is a very interesting exception to who can be an Elector. No Senator, Representative, nor person holding an appointed federal office may be an Elector. 

  

When our forefathers drafted the Constitution, they intended that state governments as well as the people have a voice in congress. Article I, Section 2, tells us that the People shall choose the House of Representatives. Article I, Section 3, tells us that the State Legislatures shall choose the Senators, but this was changed by the Seventeenth Amendment so that each State’s Senators are now elected by popular vote of the People. 

  

I believe the Seventeenth Amendment was as much a mistake as was the Eighteenth (Prohibition), because the elected State Representatives no longer have a voice at the National level. Electing Senators by popular vote does not enhance the democratic process. I again point to California and Alaska. Each has two senators with equal votes in the Senate. Thus, proportionately (36 million vs. 700,000), every vote in Alaska is worth 52 votes in California. Of course, every vote in Georgia is worth four of those in California, but most folks I know think that’s about fair.

  

Remember that the Lumpkin County Tax Commissioner Rachel Pruitt and I invite you to join us at the Courthouse to discuss property tax relief for seniors and disabled on Wednesday, Jan. 7. We will meet in the Courtroom at 6:30 p.m., and Rachel will have registration forms available for those qualified to apply. If you can’t attend this meeting, you can apply at your local Tax Commissioner’s office in Lumpkin and Dawson Counties between Jan. 1 and April 1. 

  

My first Saturday morning breakfast with constituents during the upcoming Legislative Session will be at 8 a.m. on Jan. 17 at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Dahlonega. I’ll let you know the location and dates of the other Saturday morning breakfasts in Lumpkin and Dawson County as the Session progresses.  

  

Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533, (706) 864-6589, e-mail hamerson@windstream.net.

 

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