Votes are still being counted

Votes are still being counted

Two weeks after election day and votes are still being counted. The President-elect is assembling his cabinet and the popular vote continues to grow for the losing candidate.

Clinton’s popular lead is now around 1.7 million votes and continues to increase. Most states are still counting absentee and mail ballots and deciding whether to count provisional ballots cast by those without proper identification or who did not appear on registration lists.

Nearly all states will complete and certified their counts by Dec 13 in time for the meeting of the electoral college on Dec 19. The 538 members of the electoral college vote according to the results in each state. The 23rd amendment to the Constitution lays out that they represent the 435 members of the House plus the 100 Senators plus three additional electors for the District of Columbia. All states except Maine and Nebraska choose electors on a “winner take all” basis.

The original concept was to balance a mixture of state-based and population-based government where the voice of small states would not be overrun by large states. The framers visualized a small number of persons selected by fellow citizens from the general population who would have the information necessary to complete such a complicated task. The people voted for the local elector whom they trusted to cast a responsible vote for president.

Some states reasoned that their state would have a much better chance to elect their favorite candidate if all the electors from their state voted the same way. And so ended the independent thinking of the electors. Once one state took that direction, the other states followed in order to have their strongest effect on the election.

The “winner take all” method of selecting electors is a state right. The Constitution gives each state the power to decide how its electors are chosen (Article II, Section 1, Clause 2). Maine and Nebraska use the congressional district method and select one elector for each congressional district by popular vote and select two electors through the statewide popular vote tally. Virginia has proposed the electoral votes be distributed based on a congressional district popular vote with two additional electoral votes going to the statewide popular vote.

Any plan suggested must be careful of being susceptible to gerrymandering, which is a practice intended to give voting advantage to the incumbent political party by manipulating district boundaries. Gerrymandering is used most often in favor of incumbent ruling political parties with the thought that if they do their job well they will never lose another election.

The overhaul of our electoral system may be a burden that this country’s population is not willing or ready to take on since it would entail a constitutional amendment and cooperation of state and federal government houses. Most politicians are only interested in getting reelected by any legal means and they certainly are not open to plans that may endanger that.