Granderson: The ‘election police’ don’t need to be right to be effective.
In this edition of the Inconvenient Truth with Keith Hall:
The U.S. presidential election is now under way, and for those of us who live in the U.S., all is not well with the nation’s Electoral College. The Electoral College, which exists to help elect presidents but is actually appointed by the states, has been under increasing pressure since 2004, when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took on its chairmanship.
Many of her proposals — such as that she would create an independent commission on presidential elections, run it with independent board members and publish the results, and invite all states to choose the chair — had bipartisan support. But during the primaries and during the election, she was accused of rigging the results. Her campaign manager, John Podesta, said she was too honest “to take it [the accusation] seriously.”
And she lost — by the narrowest of margins: less than half a percentage point in four states.
The Electoral College system is also under fire because of the impact it has had on the outcome of past presidential elections.
“What Electoral College does is make what is essentially a local race into a national one,” said Stephen Hess, a professor of government at the University of Wyoming. “If a candidate does poorly in the Electoral College, that’s a very good predictor that he or she will fall short in the national popular vote. That’s even truer than it used to be.”
This Election Day, the Electoral College came up short. The candidates who finished in the top two finishers in all presidential election states were Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, who won 1,144 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 1,068. On the Democratic side Clinton won the electoral votes from Florida, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wisconsin. Trump only won the Electoral College vote from the same four states.
Now it should be noted that it’s possible that the Electoral College vote is meaningless, as some have suggested. The states get to write the rules of how their electors are selected, but not all of them have taken