In every Democratic Country, with the exception of the United States, the winner of the Presidential or Prime Minister Election is the one who receives the most popular votes. All the votes count equally; every citizen has one vote that counts the same as every other vote. The exception to this is the U.S. where the winner is the one who receives the most Electoral Votes. It takes 270 Electoral Votes to win the Election in the United States. There are 538 Electoral Votes possible, 435 for the members of the House of Representatives, 100 for the Senators from the 50 states, and 3 for members of territories belonging to the U.S.
The system was designed in the late 18th Century when the Constitution came into existence. It was the first Democratic instrument of modern government. Its intent was to be Democratic without being overly Democratic. According to the original document of government, the Constitution, the House of Representatives would be elected directly by the property owning male voters and represent them, two Senators would be elected by each of the State Legislatures and represent their interests. The President or chief executive would be chosen by an Electoral College made up of the same number of both members of the House and Senate. The voters would choose the smartest men in their Districts to pick out the best man in the country to be President. Everyone understood that George Washington would be the first President. There is no mention of political parties in the Constitution nor was there any thought of them at the time.
The first political party was organized by Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers, while the Constitution was being voted into existence by nine of the twelve states. Rhode Island refused to participate in this activity. The first political party, the Federalists, represented the Urban Business Class.
The second political party was organized by Thomas Jefferson for the 1800 Presidential Election in order for him to become President. It was called the Republican Party. The Federalists satirically christened it the Democratic-Republican Party and shortly thereafter it became the Democratic Party, a name it still bares today.
Jefferson favored the Yeoman (small) farmer. In fact his rationale for the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 was so that there would be land available for the small farmers for the next hundred years.
In essence the Democratic Party has always favored the ordinary citizen above the merchant or business class. During the Great Depression of 1929 the Democratic Party took on a level of responsibility for him where he couldn’t provide for himself. That is still the major maxim of the Democratic Party.
The Republican Party which officially came into existence in the Election of 1860 over the issue of slavery and has always favored business and the wealthy class. It is an interesting commentary on the current society that they elected a group who favors the business class over the ordinary individual citizens. They were able to do this because the form of our government is archaic, allowing a minority of the population to elect the President and allowing the states to gerrymander or shape their Election Districts in such a way that they favor the Republican Party.
The Constitution has been amended numerous times in the past, clarifying or changing aspects of its original intent. In fact the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, was agreed upon even before the Constitution was ratified by the original nine states. James Madison wrote twelve amendments, of which ten were approved by nine of the states, a 2/3 majority. The rest of the amendments, currently making a total of 27, were added through 1992. An equal rights amendment, making women equal legally with males was attempted but never passed by the 2/3s majority.
All citizens of the United States, both males and females since 1972, upon reaching the age of 18 now have the right to vote. It took more than one Amendment to the Constitution to do that. But the votes are not counted equally and innumerable instances of voter suppression during elections occur today in the United States.
By law a census of the population is taken every ten years and the fixed number of seats in the House of Representatives is reapportioned according to changes in the population. There are 435 seats in the House of Representatives and they are reapportioned every decade. The next census will occur in 2020.
Regardless of its actual population every state must have at least one representative in the House of Representatives. Seven states have that number beginning with Montana which has a population of 1,023,579, with the number decreasing to Wyoming which has 584,153 citizens. Five states have two representatives, three states have three, six states have four representatives, three states have five, two states have six, three have seven representatives, and four have eight representatives. Four states beginning with Tennessee, which has a population of 6,549,352 have nine representatives in the House of Representatives. Then single states have ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen representatives. Two states have fourteen representatives. One state has sixteen. Two states have 18 and two have 27. Texas has 36 seats in the House of Representatives and California has 53 seats.
Every state regardless of population has at least three representatives in Congress: one in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate, giving them at least 3 Electoral Votes. California, according to the Census Bureau in July of 2014, had a population of 38,802,500 people and a total of 55 Votes in Congress: 53 in the House of Representatives and 2 in the Senate. Wyoming, with a population of 584,153, had a total of 3 Congressional votes: one in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate.
There are fifty states making up the bulk of the United States. Population-wise it takes 29 of the lowest populated states to make up the approximate population of California. Their populations go from about 5 ½ million down to a little above ½ million. Yet each of these states have two Senators. This throws their representation in Congress well out of kilter with the high population states like California, Texas, Florida, and New York. Combined their representation in Congress is totally out of proportion to the high population states, making their votes count for far more than the other states. It’s this type of balance that got Donald Trump elected to the presidency even though Hillary Clinton had almost three million more popular votes than he got in the 2016 Presidential Election.
In addition within all the states there is a gradual movement from the rural areas to the urban ones where more new jobs develop. Farming, incidentally, has become and is more and more mechanized requiring less and less people. This means that the votes in the rural districts tend to count for more than in the cities because their number is always decreasing. Depending upon the accuracy of the census these numbers are adjusted every decade. A new census will occur in 2020.
Another factor that keeps the vote uneven is that in the United States there are 50 plus elections. Each state conducts its own separate election under its own specific laws. This can and does lead in interesting and unfair situations. In Texas, for example, in order to vote an individual needs a special type of official identification. These can be easily gotten in the cities. But a percentage of the state live and work in rural areas. In order for these people to get the ID they have to take a day off from work and go into a nearby city, pay a fee, and get the ID. But the facilities that issue these IDs do not keep regular hours, nor are they open every day. The days and hours they function are not advertised. Texas is a right to work state which limits union operations there. A goodly percentage of the people working in the rural area cannot afford to take a day off or are they necessarily allowed to do so. Since these laws were passed, not many years ago, the voting by minorities has dropped several hundred thousand. When this case was first appealed the Judge declared that this law was a modern version of the poll tax and declared it unconstitutional. It was then appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court which was completely appointed by Republican presidents. They upheld the law, declaring it Constitutional. It can be appealed to the Supreme Court, but they now consist of four liberal and four conservative judges. The probability is that they will not even take the case.
Before this law was passed Texas was becoming a purple state with a possibility of eventually becoming a blue or Democratic state. By restricting minority voting in the state the Republican dominated legislature was able to turn it back into a red or Republican state. This type of activity is going on throughout all the states where the Republicans dominate the legislature. There is a constant struggle between the Democrats and Republicans to expand and to restrict the vote. Eventually the Democrats will win because the basic makeup or demographics of the U.S. population is changing. The Caucasians or whites are no longer the majority of the population. They are just one of the large minorities that exist in the country now. And that number is gradually decreasing.
Another device for controlling elections in some of the larger states is by the use of gerrymandering. Keep in mind that each state controls completely the elections held within its boundaries. There is a fixed number of voting districts for the House of Representatives, 435. Every ten years there is a census and the voting districts are reconstituted based upon population changes. Consequently some states will gain seats in the House of Representatives while others will lose one of more seats. In any case the state districts are redrawn after each census. In Republican dominated states there is imaginative gerrymandering.
By going over the party registrations within the state each political party can determine which regions are strongly Democratic and which are mainly Republican. By freely drawing the lines in an erratic fashion a district can be changed from being heavily for one or the other political party. Both parties have done this. But the Republicans have used this device far more than the Democrats.
In fact since the 1965 Presidential Election when Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon B. Johnson the extreme right section of the Republican Party has vigilantly worked to extend their influence on a state level. By the Census of 2010 they were able to dominate the House of Representatives. In 2012, even though one and a quarter million more Democrats voted for members of the House of Representatives the Republicans still had the majority of members there. In terms of today’s House of Representatives Democratic voting blocs have been broken up by suddenly having their parts connected to three or four Republic areas with the Democrats becoming a minority in each of the new Republican dominated districts.
This gerrymandering has also carried over to the 2016 Presidential Election in medium sized states by establishing the Electoral Voting Districts which, in point of fact, are the same as the House of Representative Districts. Donald J. Trump won the election even though Hillary Clinton had 2.8 million more popular votes.
Trump had 306 Electoral Votes. Several of his electors refused to vote for him. Instead they cast their votes for other Republicans. Clinton had 232 Electoral Votes. The popular vote for Trump was 62,979,879 votes, 46.1% of the popular vote. The popular vote for Clinton was 65,844,954 votes, 48.2%. Clearly Hilary Clinton won the 2016 Presidential Election but Trump won the Electoral Vote. Who should really be President of the United States?
What is needed to fairly have rule by the majority are four Amendments to the Constitution, all dealing with one or another aspect of elections.
First: the Federal Government has to assume responsibility for the elections in all the states, having them all function with one similar set of rules from the census on. The states with more than one Election District should be all divided geographically and not based upon the political registration of its inhabitants. Thus gerrymandering will be permanently ended.
Second: we need some form of common registration in all the states and territories that will encourage the adult population to vote in all the elections. Currently shortly after birth all babies born in the United States receive their Social Security number. Upon reaching the age of 18 they could also receive their registration forms, pre-stamped, to be filled out and mailed back.
Third: the Electoral College has to be done away with. Presidential Elections should be won by the number of votes cast. One equal vote for every person voting, having them all count the same. The winner being the individual getting the majority of votes.
Fourth: The 100 Senate seats to be divided up according to population. Each of the 50 states to have one Senator. The remaining 50 Senate seats to be divided up by state population. While this would still give the smaller states an advantage it would half the advantage that currently exists.
This can be done as either a single Amendment with four sections or as four separate Amendments. The probability is that the fourth section, dealing with the number of Senators per state, will not come about in the near future. The two Senator per state concept is a sacred cow.
Whether the Amendment(s) will be passed sometime during the next decade or during the rest of this century is a moot question. The current system is advantageous to the Republican Party and at this point they control 29 state governments. It is dubious that these states would vote for one or more Amendments to the Constitution that could hurt their standing as a political party.
However soon to be former President Barack Obama has called for and may lead a grass root rebellion starting with school boards and moving up to state governments in order to take back the Federal Government. Donald Trump and the Republican dominated Congress may well cooperate with Barack Obama by the legislation they put forth and President Donald Trump signs.
The next census is in 2020 that is two elections from now. Trump and the Republicans may well discredit themselves with the American people by then. The bleak seeming future could change fairly quickly, particularly with well over 20 million people losing their medical coverage.