D.J. Tice’s commentary “The Electoral College still gets my vote” (Nov. 20) misses the mark.
Tice references our constitutional system of checks and balances. Sadly, in its current manifestation, that institutional arrangement is bankrupt.
The Senate has been rigged since 1787; with two senators from Wyoming and two from California, it is absurdly undemocratic. Even the House of Representatives no longer represents the popular will. As detailed by David Daley in “Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy,” House districts in many states were obscenely gerrymandered in recent years by Republican Party operatives, to such a degree that Republicans are almost guaranteed a majority in the House, even when Democrats decisively win overall electoral majorities.
It seems not too much to ask — not too radical an idea — that at least the president should represent the will of the people expressed in a national election. The disaffected individual voters that Donald Trump found in the heartland — leading to paper-thin wins in several states — should have no greater dignity than individual voters of California, which Hillary Clinton carried by millions of individual votes.
This idea is not some “imaginary system,” as Tice suggests. Under our Constitution, the states get to determine how Electoral College votes will be cast. Under an existing interstate compact, it is now the law in 10 states and the District of Columbia — totalling 165 electoral votes — that as soon as states with 270 electoral votes (a majority) have agreed to do so, these jurisdictions’ electors will be pledged to vote for the candidate who receives the most votes nationally. Thus, the nation is only 105 electoral votes away from defanging the Electoral College and establishing a check and balance under which at least one branch of government will represent the popular will.
Eight states that voted for Clinton but have not yet joined the interstate compact account for 60 electoral votes: Minnesota, Virginia, Oregon, New Hampshire, Maine, Colorado, Nevada and Connecticut. Three states that Clinton lost by 1 percent or less have 46 electoral votes: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
There is no need for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College and create a new, unknown system. The president will always be the individual who receives at least 270 electoral votes. The nation simply needs another 11 states to follow the first 11 and change the rule under which their electors will cast their votes.
If the new administration follows John Bolton’s 2000 advice that the Republican Party should “rule, not govern,” the consequence of the loss of checks and balances will become clear enough. However grim the next few years may be, there is reason to hope that by 2020 at least 11 more states will have acted and that the Electoral College will follow the popular will.
That might or might not change the result of elections, but it should ensure that all voters — however much Winston Churchill and Tice may “acerbically” disdain them — have an equal voice in selecting at least one branch of our democracy.
Mark A. Bohnhorst lives in Minneapolis.