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December 26, 2016

Federalists, Fences and Fascists Part 3 of 4

Ken Kellar

[Editor’s Note: This is the third part of a four part series on the Electoral College and its meaning and its effect on the national psyche following the Election of 2016. This is likely the best explanation of this institution you will ever find.]


There’s another feature of the Electoral College that may seem strange, winner-takes-all. In 48 of our states, the winner of the state popular vote is awarded all of that state’s electors.


To some that seems unfair to “throw away” all the votes of the second place candidate. It doesn’t seem so strange to me when I think of the states selecting the president and not the individuals. From a state’s perspective, it can have the strongest chance of its winner winning the presidency if it assigns all of its electors to the winner.


Imagine a state like Maryland with 10 electors. Hillary Clinton was the clear choice by about a two-thirds margin, and she received all 10 electors. If the state based the electors on the vote results Donald Trump would have been granted at least three electors with Mrs. Clinton only getting seven. That apportionment would more accurately represent the will of the individuals of Maryland, but it would have weakened the State of Maryland’s contribution to its preferred candidate.


For a real example, there are two states that assign their electors by the results in their congressional districts rather than the statewide result. The two electors associated with the senators are granted to the majority winner in the state.


This election cycle, Maine was the only state that split its electors, three for Mrs. Clinton and one for Mr. Trump. Maine has two senators and two representatives. One congressional district voted for Mr. Trump, the other for Mrs. Clinton. So, while there was a tie regarding congressional districts, more votes overall were cast for Mrs. Clinton, so she was awarded the two Senate-based electors. The net result of Maine not using a winner-take-all approach was to weaken the influence of the majority of Maine voters. They could have sent Mrs. Clinton four electors but only sent three, sending one to Mr. Trump.


In conclusion, if you think of the states electing the president, the winner-take-all approach might make some sense. When you consider the possible domination of the country by a few highly populated urban areas, the apportionment of electors to include the two senators can be viewed as a slight balancing effort to keep the small states in the game. And finally, please heed G. K. Chesterton’s advice (See Part 1 of this 4-part column). If you don’t understand why something was established, don’t you dare propose tearing it down until you can explain why it ever existed in the first place.


Finally, President Barack Obama recently said that “the Electoral College is a vestige, it’s a carryover from an earlier vision of how our federal government was going to work that put a lot of premium on states.”


Mr. Obama clearly reveals his socialist, communist or even fascist instincts with that statement. He wants a powerful federal government backed up by a court system that shoots down every unique initiative that a state may propose. He and “the left” view states’ rights as a vestige, a remnant, a relic. Well, I know quite a few people who think the concept of states’ rights is an essential aspect of our great nation.


There are a lot of things that need to be done to “Make America Great Again.” Eliminating the Electoral College is not one of them.


[Editor’s Post Note: In the final segment of Mr. Kellar’s examination of the Electoral College, he addresses the group calling itself “Hamiltons.”


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