Way back in 2000 an election brought major attention to a process that our Founding Fathers put in place to safeguard the individual against the mob. The election was between Al Gore and George W. Bush and the process was the Electoral College. As those who are old enough to remember know, it was in this election that a modern day President was the victor, not because of the popular vote (one vote for one person), but through the Electoral College. Al Gore won the popular vote with 50,999,897 to Bush’s 50,456,002 votes, but when the Electoral College met and cast their votes, George W. Bush came out the victor with a win of 271 to 266 for Gore. In every presidential election since that time, the Electoral College has been at the center of discussion, winning scenarios, and mostly confusion. What is this thing, what is its function and how does it operate?
In our constitution, there is no mention of an Electoral College, only a process. The name “Electoral College” is a description of that process. College here is used to describe a group of people (those elected by the states to serve) who are organized with particular aims, duties, and privileges. The process for the Electoral College can be found in the 12th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
One issue that our Founding Fathers regarded with the highest esteem was that of protecting the individual against the mob or mob rule. We hear all of the time that our country is a Democracy and as a democracy it should be the rule of the majority, but have you ever stopped to think about this in its entirety? It all sounds good on the surface, but let’s think about how a true democracy can have either a positive or negative outcome.
First, let’s define what a true Democracy actually is. According to Webster’s, the word Democracy means a government by the people especially: rule of the majority. An election held in which a true democracy exists would have each person voting and the winner would be the candidate that received the most votes from the number of people voting. This allows for the will of the majority to rule the day—no matter if there are 1,000,000 or 1 vote cast in that election.
If the president were to be chosen by true democracy, the will of those in the most populated areas would always be able to exert their will on those who live in areas that are less populated. When you look at the map of blue and red from this past election, it is easy to see that in a true democracy, the metropolitan areas would always have the ability to rule the day.
In our representative or republican form of government, the founders were wise in how they developed the plan by which the president would be elected. It keeps the mob from always being in control of that office and makes every vote from each person carry the same weight no matter if those that vote live in New York City or Turkey, Texas which is so very important because the needs, wants and desires of those in New York City are probably at the opposite end of the spectrum as those of a person from Turkey, Texas. When citizens go to the polls and cast the popular vote, they are in effect telling that state’s Electoral College members how they want to be represented when those members cast their vote in December. Each state has different laws governing how these electors are to cast their votes because, remember, we are still individual states that have sovereignty according to the 10th amendment of the US Constitution. Some states allow their electorates to vote according to the electors will and others bind their electors to the will of the people of their state while allowing them to pay a fine if they choose to go against the citizen’s choice.
The job of the electors is very important and carries huge responsibility. Just think for a moment, what if the popular vote wanted to vote in a person for president that went against every single part of the constitution and had said throughout their campaign that they hated our country and wanted to destroy it when they became President. It would then fall upon the electors to either vote to keep this person as the president-elect or vote for another person that would not destroy our country. I would hope that they would stand by their oath which they take to protect the constitution and not elect the one who received the most votes.
You can help choose who your electors are by attending your state Republican or Democratic Convention held in the year of the presidential election. Electors run for this position and are voted on by the caucus of the Congressional District of the delegates to the convention. So, for example, if you live in Congressman Mike Conaway’s district and you are a delegate to the state convention, you would have an opportunity to run for the job as elector or vote for the elector when those from CD11 met together (caucused) at the state convention. It is important that these electorates be men and women of outstanding character, integrity and honor because theirs is not a task to be taken lightly.
When you hear that the Electoral College is no longer needed or is antiquated, stop and think about it’s purpose and then decide for yourself if it should be kept in place. The Texas Electoral College will meet on December 19th at 2:00 pm in the Texas House Chamber at the capitol building in Austin. The public is invited to attend and observe the Texas electors cast their vote for the president-elect. All that you need to do is show up.
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