The Coffee Table

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Driving around Sunday afternoon, I heard two public radio programs dealing with pregnancy, miscarriage and subsequent depression, made worse during the pandemic.

Our country has landed here. More than half believe we have given birth to a renewed exposition of democracy, but much of the populace thinks it was a miscarriage of justice, led by its baby-fied leader, who cannot accept facts.

Clearly, we must reconfigure our presidential elections.

FACT, not fake news: The Constitution requires the electoral college, representing each state, vote on the next prez. Throughout our history, particular states have enacted alternatives, but now almost every state has a winner-take-all structure; Nebraska and Maine allow for a difference.

Presidential election as a product of popular vote is not an option. Changing the Constitution is not going to happen. This requires 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress, followed by ratification in 3/4 of the states. Since Republican Party wins occur in many small states, this is unlikely. In 2000 and again in 2016 the Republican candidate was elected in the electoral college though losing the popular vote.

People like me, who live in a state where results are predictable, don’t get visited by presidential candidates, and understand our vote is meaningless. For 2020, some 66% of eligible voters voted—one third of the citizenry declined—but this was a higher number than ever! The president stated correctly that he had received more votes than any previous president, but he lost by more than seven million individual votes.

Two scenarios exist. Because the states determine their electors, they have the right to change how their state does so. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (google it!) has been passed by 16 states and the District of Columbia. It takes effect in each state which enacted it when states with a total of 270 votes pass it. In these states, electors would vote for the national top vote-getter nationwide, regardless of who won their state. Again, this may not be likely in states which currently have Republican-dominated legislatures.

Here’s my solution: Grant electors on a proportional basis, but raw vote totals. In Arkansas, Trump would have won four electors and Biden two. Similar ratios apply in big states like California, New York, Illinois. But many states are more 50/50. I am not a statistician, but I believe if each candidate earned enough electors to earn some portion of the vote in every state—instead of all or none—he may come out in better shape.

Alternately, each state could award an elector to each congressional district won there, and the two at-large electors, representing the two senators, to that state’s overall winner. Maine and Nebraska use this system, which still favors the state’s overall winner, yet allows for dissident voters in a specific congressional district, a fairer distribution based on geography, population density and multicultural residency. In Arkansas, Trump would have gotten five electors, or maybe all six; Biden may have grabbed one.

These scenarios would have repeated around the country. In California, which Trump hates, he may have earned many electoral votes. In New York, which he abandoned and is investigating him, he would have gained some electors. In states like Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, each candidate would have earned something like a 52-48 split, a larger number for each man approaching the 270 required electoral votes.

In the USA’s birthing, only white male property owners over the age of 21 could vote. The electoral college was invented because it was feared the “great unwashed” would vote for someone unqualified to assume the presidency. Over time, those restrictions have disappeared—now any citizen, non-white, non-male, non-property owner, at least 18—we can all vote. But our votes for president are hindered—a San Francisco conservative is as locked out as an Ozark leftist.

Biden should appoint a commission to seriously study the situation and ask the 50 states to sincerely examine their approach.

That Trump and so many followers refuse to accept defeat is a travesty for our democracy, that Republicans stand by him or remain silent is worse. We need to fix this.

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