In The Times on Sept. 26, 2011, Len Robbins’ column, “My biannual rant about the Electoral College,” asked the question, “Why should a person’s vote in Wyoming count more than mine?” Wallace Armstrong’s opinion of Feb. 6 seems to be the same song.
Our forefathers designed a representative democracy called a republic, and Article I of the Constitution lays out how they wanted the legislative branch of government to be selected. The House of Representatives would be selected based on population, and two members of the Senate would be selected by each state’s governing body. Each state’s government would have equal voice.
Article I further enumerates the powers that Congress would have. Note that the House would represent the people and the Senate would represent the state governments. The election of senators by popular vote was established by the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, thus changing the whole concept of why the Senate was established.
Article II defines the Electoral College, how it would be established and who could not be a member. Each state’s membership would be equal to the number of senators and representatives combined; therefore, even the smallest state would have three votes (two senators and one representative).
Without the Electoral College, the nine most populated states could elect the president without any regard to regional diversity or opinions. With the Electoral College, it would take the 11 most populous states to elect the president.
The Electoral College system was to protect the rights of minorities and smaller states by giving them more of a voice in the election of the president. It was never intended that our president be elected by popular vote.
Now back to Robbins’ question. Georgia has 17 times more people than Wyoming, but California has four times as many people as Georgia. I trust Wyoming’s politics a lot more than those of California’s.
California has 70 times the population of Wyoming, but only 24 times the Electoral College votes. Thank goodness for small favors.
I find the 17th Amendment, which changed how senators are selected, to be distasteful and believe that it is a mistake that should be corrected, as we did the 18th (Prohibition). Currently, the state governments have no representation in Congress. By popular vote, a senator from Wyoming has 17 times the legislative power as a senator from Georgia and 70 times that of a senator from California. Our forefathers never intended that relationship.