Electoral College has enduring relevance

It seems bizarre that the person with the most votes doesn’t win the presidency.

The Founding Fathers feared a mass democracy in which a large faction could vote themselves favor from the pockets of smaller factions. The interest of big states should not override the needs of small states.

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the president. Your state’s entitled allotment equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation — one for each member of the House of Representatives, plus two for your Senators.

There are 3,141 counties in the United States.

Donald Trump won 3,084 of them, and Hillary Clinton won 57.

There are 62 counties in New York State. Trump won 46, while Clinton won 16.

Clinton won the popular vote by approximately 1.5 million votes.

In the five counties that encompass NYC, (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Richmond and Queens), Clinton received well over 2 million more votes than Trump. (Clinton won four of these counties; Trump won Richmond).

Therefore these five counties alone more than accounted for Clinton winning the popular vote of the entire country.

These five counties comprise 319 square miles. The United States is comprised of 3,797,000 square miles. When you have a country that encompasses almost 4 million square miles of territory, it would be ludicrous to even suggest that the vote of those who inhabit a mere 319 square miles should dictate the outcome of a national election.

There are forces being used to create pressure to destroy the Electoral College so they won’t have to deal with it next election. The plan is to make enough trouble that Congress will move to abolish the Electoral College to get some peace.

The danger is real and gaining ground. But it didn’t start with this election’s results. A campaign to eliminate the Electoral College and “let the people elect the president” has been gaining steam for several years.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a group started in 2006, has won commitments from 10 states and the District of Columbia to award their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. The states are Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, California, New York and Hawaii.

These states control 165 electoral votes. They only need states representing 105 more electoral votes to join, and the Electoral College will be a thing of the past. Missouri (10 electoral votes), Oklahoma (7) and Arizona (11) are considering joining.

When a state passes legislation to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, it pledges that all of that state’s electoral votes will be given to whichever presidential candidate wins the popular vote nationwide.

Why is the Electoral College so critical to keep around? For the same reason it was critical in 1787. There are still varying interests and factions of the country that must be tempered. There are the interests and expectations of the heavily populated urban centers, and there are the interests and needs of the less populated (but far more expansive) rural regions. Those who would discard the Electoral College would upend the Founders’ intent to guard against the tyranny of the majority.

Rather than attack the Electoral College as being unjust, perhaps their energies would be better spent finding candidates whose message appeals to more than one faction of the electorate. Isn’t that what the Founding Fathers intended?

Martha Vail is a Charlottesville resident. She can be reached at mwvail@att.net.