There was a lot of talk after the 2016 presidential election about electoral reform to amend the constitution and do away with the Electoral College as established in Article 2 Section 1. There has been a lot of speculation about why the framers established the Electoral College but there are some reasons that have been identified:
- Logistical – how to collect and record results given that the only communication methods was essentially for the states to send the results in by hand. Establishing electors simplified and expedited the process.
- State Equalization – as it is today, denser populations had an advantage over sparsely populated areas; the Electoral College was seen as creating a more level playing field.
- Majoritarianism – a similar concern to the population density issue, but essentially a more focused concern about and possible remedy for mob rule. The counter argument to this was the corollary concern of Minoritarianism where a minority could successfully dictate to a majority, such as happens in a 2/3 vote required in the Senate in certain cases.
Given modern technology, the first reason losses some validity, but simplification of the tally still remains. There are other reasons that some framers had, but I think these are the more important ones.
That doesn’t mean the electoral process doesn’t need reform as the current system is so complex, long winded and unfortunately susceptible to corruption. I looked around at what was going on in other countries and while there are even more problems with many, there are some things that are noteworthy.
I recently read that in Japan those running for office are limited to 12 to 17 days on campaigning depending on the office involved. In the UK and other British Commonwealth nations elections can be called at any time and last from a few weeks to a few months. In America we suffer through years of campaigning, numbing our political senses to a myopic state.
Add to this the lack of transparency and veiled corruption and it’s little wonder that many Americans do not even bother voting. We often have little more than half the eligible voters involved in elections.
So just as an exercise, I thought about what could change, as if the political elite would ever allow such heresy, to counter that. Here are some things I fantasized about:
- Limit all political campaigning to 3 months, maybe 4 months tops, prior to Election Day, including primaries. America spends too much time on this process, and the incumbent politician’s too little time actually doing their jobs because of the insane duration of current campaigns.
- Candidates can only campaign for a certain number of hours per week, and they are obligated to still do their job; if you want to run for office, do it on your time, not the tax payer’s dime.
- Candidates must declare within the first month or just be left out; too bad if you like to make the grand entrance.
- Candidates may not use their own money on campaigning.
- Only citizens eligible to vote may contribute to campaigns, but in respect for free speech, no limits.
- Entities such as governments (including our own), corporations, unions, and the like may not contribute to or be any source of campaign funds, or be the source of support of any kind for any candidate.
- Delegates in party primaries and in the Electoral College can only vote as mandated by the results.
- End all term limits as they infringe on voter’s rights; some voters may actually want who they got, but term limits infringe on the right to run for office and the right to choose candidates.
These ideas are likely to never see the light of day, and even if they were to happen can’t address all the problems, but what we have is just plain soap opera politics, i.e. same story, over and over again, telling us nothing, promising everything, for years on end.