US votes count 3/5ths of a human

 

It is strictly the choice of the Electoral College to let the vote of every U.S. citizen have the slightest bearing on the result of a Presidential election. 

The President of the United States of America, the highest office in the land, is elected through an Electoral College, not by the national popular vote.

Although, all members of the United States Congress are directly elected by the votes of the people of each state; and governors in all 50 states are also elected by popular vote.

Americans did not directly vote for senators for the first 125 years of the Federal Government. The Constitution, as it was adopted in 1788, stated that senators would be elected by state legislatures. The Seventeenth Amendment (Amendment XVII) to the United States Constitution established the popular election of United States Senators by the people of the states. The amendment supersedes Article I, §3, Clauses 1 and 2 of the Constitution. The United States House of Representatives has been a directly elected body, since 1788.

When the founders of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 considered whether America should let the people elect their president through a popular vote, James Madison said that “Negroes” in the South presented a “difficulty … of a serious nature.”

During that same speech on Thursday, July 19, Madison instead proposed a prototype for the same Electoral College system the country uses today. Each state has a number of electoral votes roughly proportioned to population and the candidate who wins the majority of votes wins the election.

When the founders of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 considered whether America should let the people elect their president through a popular vote, James Madison said that “Negroes” in the South presented a “difficulty … of a serious nature.”

Madison, now known as the “Father of the Constitution,” was a slave-owner in Virginia, which at the time was the most populous of the 13 states if the count included slaves, who comprised about 40 percent of its population.

During that key speech at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Madison said that with a popular vote, the Southern states, “could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes.”

Madison knew that the North would outnumber the South, despite there being more than half a million slaves in the South who were their economic vitality, but could not vote. His proposition for the Electoral College included the “three-fifths compromise,” where black people could be counted as three-fifths of a person, instead of a whole. This clause garnered the state 12 out of 91 electoral votes, more than a quarter of what a president needed to win.

“None of this is about slaves voting,” said Finkelman, “The debates are in part about political power and also the fundamental immorality of counting slaves for the purpose of giving political power to the master class.”

He said the Electoral College’s three-fifths clause enabled Thomas Jefferson, who owned more than a hundred slaves, to beat out in 1800 John Adams, who was opposed to slavery, since the South had a stronghold.

While slavery was abolished, and the Civil War led to citizenship and voting rights for black people, the Electoral College remained intact. Another law professor, who has also written that the Constitution is pro-slavery, argues that it gave states the autonomy to introduce discriminatory voting laws, despite the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was built to prevent it.

The Troubling Reason the Electoral College Exists

Some claim that the founding fathers chose the Electoral College over direct election in order to balance the interests of high-population and low-population states. But the deepest political divisions in America have always run not between big and small states, but between the north and the south, and between the coasts and the interior.

Standard civics-class accounts of the Electoral College rarely mention the real demon dooming direct national election in 1787 and 1803: slavery.

At the Philadelphia convention, the visionary Pennsylvanian James Wilson proposed direct national election of the president. But the savvy Virginian James Madison responded that such a system would prove unacceptable to the South: “The right of suffrage was much more diffusive [i.e., extensive] in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes.” In other words, in a direct election system, the North would outnumber the South, whose many slaves (more than half a million in all) of course could not vote. But the Electoral College—a prototype of which Madison proposed in this same speech—instead let each southern state count its slaves, albeit with a two-fifths discount, in computing its share of the overall count.

Virginia emerged as the big winner—the California of the Founding era—with 12 out of a total of 91 electoral votes allocated by the Philadelphia Constitution, more than a quarter of the 46 needed to win an election in the first round. After the 1800 census, Wilson’s free state of Pennsylvania had 10% more free persons than Virginia, but got 20% fewer electoral votes. Perversely, the more slaves Virginia (or any other slave state) bought or bred, the more electoral votes it would receive. Were a slave state to free any blacks who then moved North, the state could actually lose electoral votes.

If the system’s pro-slavery tilt was not overwhelmingly obvious when the Constitution was ratified, it quickly became so. For 32 of the Constitution’s first 36 years, a white slaveholding Virginian occupied the presidency.

Southerner Thomas Jefferson, for example, won the election of 1800-01 against Northerner John Adams in a race where the slavery-skew of the electoral college was the decisive margin of victory: without the extra electoral college votes generated by slavery, the mostly southern states that supported Jefferson would not have sufficed to give him a majority. As pointed observers remarked at the time, Thomas Jefferson metaphorically rode into the executive mansion on the backs of slaves.

The 1796 contest between Adams and Jefferson had featured an even sharper division between northern states and southern states. Thus, at the time the Twelfth Amendment tinkered with the Electoral College system rather than tossing it, the system’s pro-slavery bias was hardly a secret. Indeed, in the floor debate over the amendment in late 1803, Massachusetts Congressman Samuel Thatcher complained that “The representation of slaves adds thirteen members to this House in the present Congress, and eighteen Electors of President and Vice President at the next election.” But Thatcher’s complaint went unredressed. Once again, the North caved to the South by refusing to insist on direct national election.

The electoral college does not protect the interests of small states or racial minorities, does not provide presidents with effective coalitions for governing, and does little to protect the American polity from the alleged harms of direct election of the president. In fact, the electoral college distorts the presidential campaign so that candidates ignore most small states and some large ones and pay little attention to minorities, and it encourages third parties to run presidential candidates and discourages party competition in many states.

If presidents were elected by direct popular vote, they would wage a campaign and advertise all across the nation, rather than (as they do in the Electoral College system) concentrating almost all of their time and effort in a handful of battleground states. Only 18 of the 50 states received a visit from one of the candidates in the last two months of the last presidential election, simply because the margin between popular and Electoral votes wasn’t small enough to warrant their attention. The Electoral College system encourages candidates to pander to the interests of voters in a few closely contested states. A majority of attention and funds are aimed at Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia. With just over 50 percent of the popular votes in each state needed to win the entire state in the Electoral College, these four states have a lot of say in deciding who becomes president. They carry more Electoral votes per capita than other states.

There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires Electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states. Some states, however, require Electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. These pledges fall into two categories—Electors bound by state law and those bound by pledges to political parties. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the Constitution does not require that Electors be completely free to act as they choose and therefore, political parties may extract pledges from electors to vote for the parties’ nominees. 27 states have laws that require electors to vote for the candidate that gets the majority of the popular vote, there’s nothing in either the Constitution or in Federal law that requires they do so.

Because the Electoral College is “winner take all” in all but two states (Maine and Nebraska), people who disagree with the majority in their state are not represented. In Nebraska and Maine, the state winner receives two Electors and the winner of each congressional district receives one Elector. This system permits the Electors from Nebraska and Maine to be awarded to more than one candidate.

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