Chris Kane: The Electoral College didn’t come from those guys in wigs in Philadelphia | TheUnion.com
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Chris Kane: The Electoral College didn’t come from those guys in wigs in Philadelphia

In the time remaining until we finally have the election on Nov. 3, all of us will hear a great deal about the Electoral College. The term “swing state,” or “battleground” state, will become ingrained in our mind as we listen or watch the results on that Tuesday night.

The election will likely be decided by the results in about seven key states where projections are for close vote counts which could “swing” either way. Those living in the other 41 states and the District of Columbia have basically been ignored during the campaign, and will largely be ignored on election night.

The reason is, of course, the existence of the Electoral College, and the system which awards all of each state’s electoral votes, with the exception of Maine, to the winner of the popular vote in that state. Each state gets the number of electoral votes equal to its number of senators and members of its delegation in the House of Representatives. As each state regardless of population has two senators, states with a small population have a disproportionate influence on the outcome of an election.

The Electoral College has produced several presidents, including, of course, the present one, who lost the popular vote yet won the presidency by virtue of his electoral vote totals. Those results make a strong case for abolition of the Electoral College.

As a Californian, I support that abolition. Yet, as someone who has studied history for most of my nearly 80 years, I have very clearly understood who to blame for its existence, and it’s not those guys in wigs in Philadelphia. It’s England.

When the government in London established their colonial empire in America, they established separate and distinct colonies in each of those geographic areas which later became our original states. There was no unifying body to create coordination among them. Indeed the direct reporting of each to London was purposely designed to prevent such cooperation.

The English did the same thing in Australia, which because of its later colonization during the Industrial Revolution even led to different railroad gauges in the separate states there. But back in America, the colonies established a confederation after declaring their independence, not a nation.

The shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation led to those guys in wigs in Philadelphia, and thus to the Electoral College where the states retained their individuality and power. I understand why I and the majority of my fellow Californians want to abolish it, but I also understand why those who live in Wyoming don’t.

Chris Kane lives in Alta Sierra.


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