Now it's time to get rid of the electoral college.
President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump shake hands following their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Nov. 10. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
Donald Trump had it pegged. The election was rigged. Hillary Clinton won the most votes. But Trump won the presidency.
It was rigged 229 years ago by the Founding Fathers, or so George Skelton opines in the Los Angeles Times. Skelton writes that they created a convoluted, undemocratic presidential election system that became known as the electoral college.
It was part of a classic backroom political deal fashioned to appease Southern slave states so they’d sign the new Constitution. The South — slave owners, anyway — fretted about the North’s larger population and the political power that came with it. Those Yankees might even abolish slavery.
So they infamously compromised. Slaves wouldn’t be allowed to vote, but they could be counted as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of padding the South’s population numbers. That way, Dixie would be entitled to more congressmen — and more presidential electors.
It wasn’t by coincidence that four of the first five presidential elections were won by candidates from Virginia, which had lots of slaves.
The three-fifths nonsense ended when slaves were freed during the Civil War. But the electoral college endured, still tilted toward the less populated states.
That’s because of how presidential electors are allotted to each state. It’s mostly based on the number of U.S. House members, which is determined by population size. But every state also gets an elector for each senator. And every state is entitled to two senators, regardless of how many people live there.
So in the most extreme case, Wyoming gets one senator for roughly every 291,000 residents. In California, there’s one senator for every 19.2 million.
True, Wyoming has only one U.S. House member and California has 53. But when it’s all calculated, for every 194,000 people in Wyoming, there’s one electoral college vote. But it takes 697,000 Californians to qualify for one electoral vote.
It’s long past time to clean up this absurdity and allow American voters to elect their presidents directly. Our votes should not be filtered through an archaic system that enhances citizens’ votes in some states and dilutes them in others.
Citizens should be electing the president. States shouldn’t be.