FARGO — If you need any more evidence that the Electoral College is undemocratic and dangerous, then all you need to do is look at the results of the last presidential election. By any standard, President Joe Biden won a sizable victory. He won by more than 7 million votes, which amounted to a 4.5% difference.
However, Biden’s real margin of victory was a mere 42,918 votes. That’s the combined vote total by which he won Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona. If he had lost those three states, that would have given 269 electoral votes each to Biden and former President Donald Trump.
That would have sent the race to the House of Representatives, where Trump would have won. That’s because under another archaic system, each state’s House delegation gets one vote. That’s right. California, which has 39.9 million people and 53 representatives, and North Dakota, which has 779,000 people and one representative, would each get one vote. So, even though there are more Democrats in the House, House Republicans outnumber House Democrats in more states.
Thus, because of this absurd system, Trump didn’t need to overturn 7 million votes, which could never happen. He just needed to try to overturn the results in a few close states. That’s why he threatened, intimidated and bullied election officials in Georgia, Michigan and Arizona in an effort to change and falsify the election results in those states. Without the Electoral College, there’s likely no violent coup attempt at the Capitol, and no deaths or injuries to Capitol police officers.
Some might argue that this system is what the Founding Fathers had in mind. Actually, what they had in mind was only white men who owned land could vote. The reality is, the Electoral College was put in place in large part because of slavery. Southern states were afraid that all the presidents would come from the north, where more eligible voters lived.
Southern states wanted to count their slaves without allowing them to vote. So, Southerners successfully pushed for the Electoral College system, where their slaves would count as three-fifths of a person but still be banned from voting. The results went just as the Southerners hoped. In eight of the first nine presidential elections, a southern slave owner was elected.
It’s imperative that the Electoral College system should be changed. Nobody who receives 7 million more votes than his or her opponent should lose an election.
Speaking of allegedly rigged elections, this reminds me of when I was first elected president of the North Dakota Associated Press Broadcasters Association. It came as quite a surprise. During the election, I had to go to the bathroom. When I came back, I asked KFGO News Director Paul Jurgens who the new president is. He said it was me. I thought he was kidding.
I asked Jurgens, “How could I be elected president, when I never said I was running?”
Jurgens replied, “That’s what you get for going to the bathroom during the election.”
I never made that mistake again.
Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director. Email email@example.com