Why is the Electoral College so important in electing our presidents? This question comes up every four years.
Recently someone sent me a copy of "Every Vote Equal," a discussion of reasons the president should be elected by national popular vote. This was followed by The Gainesville Times Sept. 26 opinion page article: "My biannual rant about the Electoral College," in which Len Robbins asked the question, "Why should a person's vote in Wyoming count more than mine?"
Many years ago in my high school civics' class, I asked a similar question. My assignment was to read Articles I and II of the Constitution of the United States of America and to deliver a report to the class. I had one week to prepare. I later learned that week also gave the teacher time to research the question and prepare for the class discussion.
Our forefathers designed a representative democracy called a republic, and Article I lays out how they wanted the legislative branch of government to be selected. The House of Represen-tatives would be selected based on population, and two members of the Senate would be selected by each state's governing body. Each state government would have equal voice. Article I further enumerates the powers that Congress would have.
Note that the House would represent the people and the Senate would represent the state governments. The election of Senators by popular vote was established by the XVII Amendment to the Constitution thus changing the whole concept of why the Senate was established.
Article II lays out how the president and vice president were to be elected and the powers that they would have. It also defines the Electoral College, how it would be established, and who could not be a member. Each state's membership would be equal to the number of senators and representatives combined; therefore, even the smallest state would have three votes (two senators and one representative).
In 1950 Georgia had a population of 3.45 million people and 10 members of the House of Representatives (12 electoral votes). Nevada had a population of 600,000 and two representatives (four electoral votes). Georgia had almost six times the population, but only three times the electoral votes.
During the class discussions, I learned that the Electoral College system was to protect the rights of minorities and smaller states by giving them more of a voice in the election of the president. It was never intended that our president be elected by popular vote.
Now back to Len Robbins' question. Without the Electoral College, the nine most populated states could elect the president without any regard to regional diversity or opinions. With the Electoral College, it would take the 11 most populace states to elect the president.
Len, you are right that Georgia has 17 times more people than Wyoming, but California has four times as many people as Georgia. I trust Wyoming's politics a lot more than those of California. California has 70 times the population of Wyoming, but only 24 times the Electoral College votes. Thank goodness for small favors.
Back to the XVII Amendment which changed how Senators are selected and which I find more distasteful than the Electoral College. I believe that is one of the mistakes that should be corrected as we did the XVIII.
Currently, the state governments have no representation in Congress. By popular vote, a Senator from Wyoming has 17 times the legislative power as a Senator from Georgia and 69 times that of a Senator from California. Our forefathers never intended that relationship.
Let me know what you think about the Electoral College and the election of our presidents.
Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; phone (706) 864-6589; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.