The Electoral College serves an important role—especially for Nebraskans

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Graphic by Maria Nevada

Ryan Jaeckel
CONTRIBUTOR

The biggest news story right now in the political world is the three-week government shutdown. Both sides of the aisle seem like they can’t agree on anything except that the government shut down is bad for the country, and that it needs to be resolved as soon as possible.

Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.) introduced two constitutional amendments to the floor: one prevents presidents from pardoning themselves and their family members, the other is to eliminate the Electoral College.

The only reason these bills are being introduced to the House floor is to continue the “resist Trump” movement that is now the platform of the Democratic party. Additionally, the bill would almost certainly secure a presidential victory for a Democratic candidate in 2020.

Now what is interesting is that Cohen, nor supporters of the bill, know why the Electoral College was established. Let’s take a look at “Schoolhouse Rock!”and refresh your memory on the importance of the Electoral College.

Starting with some simple math, there are 538 electors in the Electoral College and the “magic number” to win the presidency is 270–the total of all the states electors. Each state’s electors are determined by our Congressional delegates, that means our representatives in the House and Senate.

Electors are determined in a two-part process, according to the National Archieves and Records Administration. First, Electors are determined by the state’s political parties. The second part, when voters in each state cast their ballots for their choice of presidential candidate, they are also voting to select their state’s elector–which may or not appear on the ballot.

For those still concerned about how the president should be determined by the popular vote, they technically are.

Most states require that the electoral votes go to the candidate with the plurality of that state’s votes, according to the History, Art and Archives of the U.S House of Representatives. Plurality means that the candidate who receives more votes than any other candidate is elected.

Those living in Maine or Nebraska are under a different system called the district system. Under this system, two “at-large” electors will vote for the states plurality and one elector votes for each of the state’s congressional districts, according to the History, Art and Archives of the U.S House of Representatives.

Those still seeking to abolish the Electoral College need to also understand the tedious task at hand. To eliminate the Electoral College, a bill first needs to be proposed by two-thirds of both houses of Congress, after which three-fourths of the states need to ratify the proposal to the Constitution. The states can ratify amendments either through their legislative houses, the last time being in 1992 when the 27th amendment was ratified; or by a Constitutional Convention, the last being in 1787.

Those claiming the Electoral College doesn’t represent your vote are technically correct. But the United States is not a pure democracy—it’s a republic. More importantly, this electoral process was designed to keep larger states, those with higher populations like New York, in check. Ideally, this prevents candidates from only campaigning in states like California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida. It gives the little guys—like us in the Midwest—voting power to determine our national leader.

Hopefully this article has shed some light on why the Electoral College is important to our “democracy.” Your vote does matter. The popular vote does ultimately decide the president. And on top of it all—it’s nearly impossible to get this amendment ratified. Democrats should play by the rules instead of changing them for their own benefit.

 

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