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It’s time to change the nation’s election process

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POSTED: November 20, 2012 12:00 p.m.

The elections finally are over. The emails and calls have stopped. The dreadful television ads have disappeared. We no longer have to listen to politicians make promises that they likely never will keep. During all of the election madness, were you satisfied with the whole process? I wasn’t, and I think that the election procedure needs to be completely overhauled.

Our current system of using the Electoral College is antiquated. The constitutional theory behind the indirect election of the president is that while the Congress is popularly elected by the people, the president is elected to be executive of a federation of independent states. Presidential electors are selected on a state-by-state basis, as determined by the laws of each state. The states have a winner-take-all arrangement, except for Maine and Nebraska, which follow a district system.

The presidential election is not a national election. It is a bunch of separate state elections. Each state gets a certain number of electors, one for each senator and one for each representative. These electors then vote for the president.

Every vote counts in a democratic society. At least that is how it should be, but the hard truth is that under the Electoral College system, there are many votes in presidential elections that don’t count at all. In local, county and state elections, every vote truly does count. These elections don’t use an Electoral College system.

Because of our system, only nine states decide on who will be president. They’re called the “swing states.” These states can go either way — Democrat or Republican. The remaining states traditionally favor just one party. If you live in Georgia, you can vote Democrat all you like, but the fact remains that the majority of the voters here will vote Republican, so the Republican candidate will get all of the electoral votes.

Based on the existing system, we can all stay home and just let the nine states vote since the rest of us don’t matter. This system needs to be changed. We need to go to a popular-vote system, where the candidate who the majority of us prefer becomes our president. Historically, four presidents were elected but lost the popular vote.

With the present system, if you are a Democrat in Georgia, you might feel disenfranchised. Why should someone take the time and effort to vote, knowing that their vote has no meaning? If we use the popular vote nationwide to elect our president, maybe more people will get out and vote, changing the entire dynamics of a presidential election.

The Electoral College reinforces a two-party system, making it almost impossible to form a viable third party, thereby restricting choices available to the electorate. I believe it is time to develop a true third party to give the voters a better selection of candidates.

The Libertarians are trying to establish their party as an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans, but with the Electoral College, they don’t stand a chance. In addition, the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the two major parties, prevents the Libertarians from participating in the debates, assuring that no Libertarian can voice his or her position.

Independents seem to vote for the individual, not the party. There are independents holding office in Congress; why not have an independent president? If an individual can garner support, shouldn’t an independent have the same chance as a party candidate? We need more choices, but will Congress make the necessary alterations to the Constitution?

Calderone is a conservative who lives in Midway and has written for trade publications in various fields.

 

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