For the second time in just 16 years the winner of the electoral college did not win the popular vote, causing tumult across America. True, the campaigns may have been run differently if the popular vote was the determinant, and Trump may have won in the end. But the country just opted for change, so what better time to update our process to elect the President than now?
The Electoral College was adopted in 1787 as a compromise to balance power between large and small states, and to give greater power to the “well-informed” elite. With the advent of 24-hour cable, the internet, social media, and a literacy rate of nearly 100%, it’s clearly time to move on and return the power to the people directly. It’s ridiculous and theoretically possible to elect a President with fewer than 30% of the popular vote, and the “loser” getting 70%, because the “winner” got 270 electoral votes. There is also no requirement for the electors to vote the candidate they were elected to support, so the outcome is in the hands of 538 party insiders. Because so few states are “in-play” the candidates essentially ignore large states like California, Texas and New York and concentrate on tiny areas of swing voters.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an agreement among participating states to cast all their electoral votes for a candidate once that candidate wins the popular vote, regardless of the results within their state. However, it still retains some of the mechanism of the electoral college. It has been adopted by 10 states plus D.C. and will only come into play if enough states enter the compact and have a total of 270 electoral votes among them.
Whether we go the NPVIC route or amend the constitution, I can’t fathom how anyone would disagree with “most votes wins,” as this is how we elect over 100,000 political offices in every other election in America. The Senate, with each state regardless of size getting two representatives, is the balancing mechanism in place for small states to have more say in government. We don’t need another.
Let’s act now, otherwise we will never fix this antiquated system.
Ray Link is a retired CFO of FEI Company and currently serves on the board of directors of three high-tech companies. He is a CPA and holds an MBA from the Wharton School and is a lifelong registered Republican