As you read this, we’re just a little more than a week away from Election Day, Nov. 6.
So, a couple of reminders: First, vote. Pull out that ballot from underneath that stack of papers on your desk or kitchen table, mark it as you will, and return it. As soon as you drop off your ballot, you can move to the next item on your list:
Enjoy the next week. It could be many years until we see a similarly compelling presidential election, and one that’s so close. Even the national polls can’t seem to agree about which candidate has the momentum going into the race’s final week.
And see if this scenario seems familiar: It’s possible that Mitt Romney could win the national popular vote and still lose in the Electoral College.
So this is a good time to review the case for the Electoral College, which we’ve long supported on this editorial page.
The Electoral College is part of the compromise the nation’s founders made as they tried to split the difference between presidential elections based on the popular vote and elections decided by congressional representation. In essence, the people of the United States do not vote for a presidential candidate; instead, they vote for electors who in turn elect the president.
Each state has a certain number of electors, based on the number of representatives and senators it has in Congress. So, Oregon has seven electoral votes.
To be elected president, a candidate must win 270 electoral votes. Most states award their electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis.
So the Electoral College tends to give states with smaller populations such as Oregon a bit of influence in the presidential race that they otherwise would not have. If only the popular vote counted, candidates surely would focus their efforts in the nation’s biggest metropolitan areas — and eventually government policy would ignore the interests of rural and suburban America.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., introduced a constitutional amendment that would give the winner of the popular vote an additional 29 electoral votes. The idea is to make it harder for the winner of the popular vote to lose in the Electoral College.
It’s a bad idea. The Electoral College has endured all these years because of exactly the reason the founders intended: It ensures a voice for those Americans who choose not to live in the nation’s most populated areas. (mm)