Sunday, September 19, 2004

Should the US be left to decide who is elected President?

I was asked by Joe to put something on the blog about this. So, to start with, I’m going to give you a few factual bits. First, in the US, there is no “one citizen, one vote” system which applies directly to who becomes President.

As of August 2003, the CIA estimated the population of mainland America to be 290,342,554. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that 290,000,000 are able to vote. And for the sake of argument, if 170,000,000 of those voted for John Jerry and 120,000,000 voted for George Bush — a difference of 50 million votes — and there was no dirty dealing, Bush could still be elected President.

Here’s how. Voters in each US State don’t elect the President. They elect people called ‘electors’. The people who can *become* Electors have previously been chosen by each political party’s state meetings and committees.

So when the Election happens, this November, the people of each State will choose their Electors who will, between themselves, cast 538 Electoral Votes (for who becomes President). But because each State has a different number of people in it, and therefore, a different proportion of the total population, the amount of Electors per State varies from State to State.

With me so far? ;o) Yeah, I know, it’s mad.

It gets madder though. The US Electoral College is where the real vote for who becomes President takes place. The Electors assemble there in December. They cast their votes. But:

It is possible that an elector could ignore the results of the popular vote, but that occurs very rarely.
The founders of the nation devised the Electoral College system as part of their plan to share power between the States and the national government. Under the Federal system adopted in the Constitution, the nation–wide popular vote has no legal significance.
Can you believe it?!?! I certainly can’t.

Here’s an FAQ from the Electoral College to explain little things to you. Here’s their full procedure. Here’s a prediction of how the final vote will look, based on current polls. Bush’s approval rating. The US Map as it might look if it was distorted to show the percentage votes by State. More info about the Electoral College, from Wikipedia. A lot of really accurate and really confusing tables. And finally, what happens in a worst–case scenario where the College ties fifty–fifty?

Since the US is a really influential and powerful country, a lot of its most important and most globally political decisions really are global in effect. They affect all of us. So therefore, given everything you saw above, I reckon, if you allow yourself to dream and wish a little, that you’d agree with me that the world should be allowed to vote on this, too.

Of course I’m dreaming when I say that too. But in cyberspace you can dream all you want, and you can cast your vote right here.

Now I’m tired. Thankyou and goodnight!

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