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Problems with the way we elect the President

By Jonathan Kaulay
On November 15, 2012

Not many of us really remember the Bush vs. Gore 2000 election.  We were either too young or politics were simply off our radar as we were busy playing the Pokémon card game or watching the first season of "Survivor." Whatever the case, that election has come to symbolize everything that is wrong with the way we elect our president, and we almost had a repeat of it this election.
In 2000, we had a situation where Al Gore won the popular vote and George W. Bush won the Electoral College vote.  That in itself presents a problem, but it was not the only problem from this election.  Confusing ballot cards in Florida confused voters and led to accidental over-voting, or voting for more than one of the candidates.  The entire election hinged on Florida, who did not finish counting its ballots until days after the election because of the widespread confusion and a recount because the race was so close. People were also plagued with obscenely long lines to vote.
This election we luckily avoided having a repeat as Barack Obama won a substantial majority of the Electoral College votes.  The popular vote, however, was very close, with Obama beating Mitt Romney by roughly a 3 percent margin.  There was still, however, reports of confusing ballots, malfunctioning electronic voting machines which would not let you vote for one certain candidate and extremely long waits to vote.  

A lot of these issues would be solved if we simply centralized the voting process.  If every state used the same type of ballot, confusion would not be an issue.   Also, we should take the election out of partisan state and local government groups.  Many of the same people who run the ballots in states are the same people who hit the pavement for a certain candidate over another.  

The solution would be to take the election process and create a federal committee or organization that sets forth a uniform set of rules for national elections.  This idea is not that radical as many other modern democratic countries have a federal organization whose job it is to organize national elections.  

There is still another fundamental problem with the way we elect our president, and it lies in the way the Electoral College operates. It is illustrated by one simple question:

What happens if both candidates tie, 269 to 269?

Many say that this is not likely to happen, but the 2000 election debacle was also not likely to happen. The constitution states if a tie were to occur, the House of Representatives would vote on who will become president and the Senate would decide on vice president.  

If there was a tie in this last election, that means the Republican-controlled House would have elected Romney as president, and the Democratic-controlled house would have chosen Joe Biden.  I am sure you can see the problem with that situation.  

The very way we vote is engrained in the constitution, and like many things in the constitution it is flawed and does not properly reflect the modern practicalities that are afforded to us today.
Until an elected official takes on this issue, we will all have to hold our breaths every presidential election cycle and hope we avoid another election embarrassment like the one experienced in 2000.
 


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