Thursday, October 14, 2004

American Democracy (9)

As I'm sure you're aware, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 & Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8 & Going Political all need to be read first.

This is the punultimate post - looks like I'm gonna hit ten after all. This is a point planned in advance and forgotten in the execution, but which is vital to the case I am building here.
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed;
That's the Twelth Amendment to the US Constitution.

As it clearly demonstrates, it is the votes of the Eledctors appointed by the states that decides the outcome of the election. Each state has one elector per electoral college vote. The BBC has a neat summary of what I've been saying here. Just to quote:
Are the electors bound to vote for their candidates?

In some states they have a free vote but in practice they vote for the candidates they are pledged to. In other states they are required to do so. From time to time, individuals or small groups, called "faithless" electors, vote for another candidate but this has happened only rarely and no result has been changed by it. In 2000 an elector from the District of Columbia abstained.

Quite famously, some electors have been known to vote for people who are not standing. As this site tells it
Another problem cited by critics is the possibility of "faithless electors" who defect from the candidate to whom they are pledged. Most recently, in 1976, a Republican elector in the state of Washington cast his vote for Ronald Reagan instead of Gerald Ford, the Republican presidential candidate. Earlier, in 1972, a Republican elector in Virginia deserted Nixon to vote for the Libertarian party candidate. And in 1968, Nixon lost another Virginia elector, who bolted to George Wallace.

An almost unmaginable betrayal of millions of voters, carried out on the whim of some elector with an axe to grind, and of course, entirely and constitutionally possible. That electors may be targetted and lobbied suggests that in less felicitous circumstances the popular vote could be almost entirely annulled.

Right, that's it, only conclusion to follow.


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