Could We Take Another Look at How We Elect the President?

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Tomorrow is the California primary and this year it is the prize everyone needs and wants. But should our presidential electoral system run this way?

America’s presidential election system is a strange one. It is mixed with traditions of the Founding Fathers and reforms made by the progressive movement to try to make it more Democratic.  In 1789 George Washington became the president. The Electoral College chose him unanimouly for both his first and second term.  But who were these electors?

The Constitution says that the state legislatures nominate people to the electoral college as it seems fit.  The Founders believed these electors would exercise their own judgement when voting. Whomever won the most votes would be president, and whoever won the second most votes would be Vice President.  If the Electoral College was unable to choose the president than Congress would have that power.

The Constitution allows the states to choose their own ways to nominate their electors.  This is how states, like Colorado, were able to not hold a primary or caucus to choose its delegates publicly.

There have been changes since the 1790s. One being separate ballots for the President and Vice President so the country doesn’t repeat the 1800 election.  The Fourteenth Ammendment gives citizanship to anyone born in the unted states. This ammendment changed the number of representitives in the House of Representitives. This changed the number of electors each state had in the Electorial College.

The original language of the fourteenth amendment only gives males over the age of twenty-one the right to vote. Judges have interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment to mean those with the legal right to vote.

Now primaries, why do we have them?  The primary system was set up in the early 1900s. It was meant to give more power to the people when choosing a presidential candidate.  Each party has its own rules within these primaries and each state has its own rules as well.

There are other options though in choosing the President.  America Citizens are already used to having a long election season. The states already pay for the elections. It wouldn’t cost us additional money, why not move to a single transferable voting system?  This would allow for a voter to rank whom he or she would want to win and allow voters to feel more involved.  The first-past-the-post system, or winner-take-all, doesn’t allow for third party candidates to gain any traction. Voters feel disillusioned because most of the people didn’t vote for the winner of the election.  All but two states use the first-past-the-post voting system in the electoral college.

The Founders invented the electoral college before the information age. Before computers and technology gave the American people the opportunity to be more engaged and informed in politics.  Our voting system should do so as well.

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