What Is Missing In Washington
Have you noticed what’s missing in Washington lately? It’s a pretty easy question. The simple answer is: legislators! Given the partial government shutdown we noticed the vacancies. The offices were bare. The halls were not crowded. The chambers were mostly silent.
Even when the government is active we notice much is missing. Each of us might have a different perspective on this, but let’s consider a few on which we all can agree.
Leadership – We have legislators in leadership positions, but few step up to fill the voids when and where needed. Direction seems to come from the respective political party bases, the sway of money, and the lure of power. Government governance seems to be a secondary, tertiary, or even forgotten concern.
Creativity – Do you notice how governing problems are not met (or solved) with new ideas? Solutions fashioned out of old governing approaches are the usual fare. Cautious steps inch us forward when situations call for greater strides and even great risks. The tried and truesometimes shouldn’t be tried and are often no longer true.
Courage – We get frustrated with our legislative leaders because, well, backbones seem to absent. Actions and lip service is meted out in careful measure that ensures longevity (i.e., job security).
What Is Missing Across America
But there’s something missing across America during presidential elections that feed into what’s lacking in the capitol. What is missing begins with us – the people. Our voice, frankly, is neither full-throated nor heard.
I’m speaking, of course, about our presidential elections. Because of the horrid winner-takes-all approach, we discard about 46% of the votes before the Electoral College can take effect. In 2016, for example, we silenced over 63 million votes! Those votes went missing!
Another thing that is missing in this regard is the national outrage. Where is the discontent, the furor, the marches, that demand everyone’s vote be counted and all of us be heard?!
The Electoral College Serves Us Well
However, many now argue that the Electoral College is old hat, out-of-date, a burden upon the nation’s citizenry. Tara Ross, in her book Enlightened Democracy: The Case for The Electoral College, notes:
…the Electoral College has not become an out-of-date electoral tool obstructing the American electorate. It has instead sown an amazing ability to adapt to modern-day America.
Ignoring votes already cast is a dereliction of our patriotic duty. Yet, we do it in every presidential election. Again, where is the outrage? Why are they missing?
Edward B. Foley, a professor of law at Ohio State University will be publishing a new book, Presidential Elections and Majority Rule, at the end of the year. He writes in Politico of, “An idea for Electoral College Reform That Both Parties Might Actually Like.” In it he frames the concern well:
…the way we currently elect presidents would horrify the early American authors of the U.S. electoral system, as defined in the 12th Amendment.
Each State Can Remedy What Is Missing
But all is not lost, as Professor Foley further advises:
It is the states that have the power to restore the Electoral College to its original intent—and to ensure that it better represents the will of the American people.
You see, each state is really like an independent country with its own executive, congressional, and judicial branches. We can experiment with innovative ideas. We can learn where courage can best make progress, when caution should be exercised, and – for this blog’s purpose – how voters can best be heard.
My home state of Oregon, for example, set aside over 51% of the votes in the 2016 presidential election. We should not be known as the quietstate, especially noting the recent political marches and activism. Rather, we should be commended for good voter turnout (80%) compared to the national average turnout of less than 70%). Yet we’re silent.
Equal Voice Voting Restores The Missing Votes
Equal Voice Voting (EVV) can be used to capture and represent all of the voters’ ballots on a proportional basis (see The Equal Voice Voting formula). We do not need a constitutional amendment to go our own way, as a leading example to other states. We do not need to burden ourselves with compact promises; as does the ridiculous, radical, and dangerous National Popular Vote (NPV) bill’s requirement.
Some ask which candidate would have won this or that election? It may satisfy curiosity but it’s the wrong question. Rather, when considering a voting mechanism, we should consider such elements as: inclusion, representation, and fairness. EVV covers all of those principles and more while NPV stumbles because of inattention to fixing what is really spoiling the process.
Let Caution Restore Courage
Is political courage still missing in this (or your) beautiful state? Then let the legislators remain cautious. Let them pass legislation to try EVV for, say, a period of three elections and build in a sunset clause. It would require a congressional evaluation after three elections to either continue the idea or revert back to silencing the lambs, … er, sorry, silencing the voters.
After those three elections, metrics of success could include such things as voter engagement and turnout. It could include assessing the state’s significance in the presidential campaign, as compared to others who stay behind. It may include a realization that voters come first, not political party dominance.
Let’s not let leadership and creativity and courage go missing. As 2020 nears, the voting citizenry and especially our legislators need to realize a viable voting option is within reach. It’s time we (and all states) try. Let’s not allow the voice of all citizens (their votes) go missing in our next presidential election.
Share this blog with others. Tell them about Equal Voice Voting.