The President's Corner

Are you familiar with the following individuals: Bonnie Dunkelman, Carole DePaola, Mary Anne Christie, or Curt Braden? Like a great majority of Ohioans, probably not. However, if you voted in the Presidential election on November 8, chances are you voted for two of them. This month I explore the elusive Electoral College – the group of Americans who have the Constitutional power to elect the president.

During the summer of 1787, as our Founding Fathers were designing the new government of the United States, one of the issues they debated was how the head of the federal executive branch should be selected. Some suggested by popular vote, while others suggested Congress or state governors select the President. Like everything in the U.S. Constitution, a compromise was struck and the Electoral College was born.  

The Electoral College was supposed to be composed of individuals who were well educated in the realm of politics and were of means with a large vested interest in the success of the nation. Each state is allotted a number of electors equal to its Congressional delegation. Ohio, for instance, with 16 members of the U.S. House and 2 U.S. Senators, has 18 electoral votes. Each political party then selects 18 individuals to serve as potential electors.  

When we vote for President, we are actually voting for electors in the Electoral College, not for the candidate him or herself. The small print on the ballot does state this. The candidate whose electors win more popular votes become the electors for that state in a winner-takes-all system (with the exception of Maine and Nebraska). Electors, being party loyalists, are essential rubber stamps for their party. Whoever wins at least 270 electoral votes becomes the next President, despite the popular vote outcome nationwide. 

The first two people mentioned above were potential electors for Hillary Clinton, while the other two are electors for Donald Trump. Therefore, as I alluded to above, most Ohioans have no idea who they truly voted for. Further, despite the fact that Secretary Clinton won the national popular vote, Mr. Trump will be elected the next President. 

Many Americans feel it is time to eliminate the “antiquated” Electoral College.  However, this would require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I would argue that the chances of amending the Constitution are highly unlikely, given the difficulty of getting two-thirds of both Houses of Congress and ¾ of the states to agree to the change. 

States have the power to determine how their electoral votes are allocated. Therefore, my suggestion to fixing the Electoral College system is to go to a proportional system.  That is, instead of winner-takes-all, the state legislature or the people, via a referendum on the ballot, could switch to a system in which candidates for President would divide electoral votes based on the percentage of the popular vote they achieve.  

If Ohio had been using the proportional system this year, Trump with about 52% of the popular vote would have won nine electoral votes, while Clinton, with about 44%, would have won eight. The law would have to state how the extra vote would be allotted.  This system would much better reflect the wishes of Ohio’s voters and eliminate the feeling of being disenfranchised that the current system creates every four years for many of those who voted for the losing candidate – Democrat or Republican. 

If you agree with the suggested change above, write to State Representative Nick Celebrezze or State Senator Mike Skindell to share your sentiments. Celebrezze can be reached at rep15@ohiohouse.gov or 77 S. High Street, 14th Floor, Columbus, 43215, while Skindell can be reached at sd23@maild.sen.state.oh.us or 1 Capitol Square, Ground Floor, Columbus, 43215. 

Sean Brennan

Parma City Council President Sean Brennan

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Volume 8, Issue 12, Posted 6:52 PM, 12.04.2016