It’s time to retire the Electoral College
In the beginning, when Americans were few, populations scattered and communication challenging, it was wise to empower knowledgeable, trustworthy persons (electors) to cast votes for competent and honest leaders of our country.
The Electoral College was created to give every state two senators and then to designate for each one the number of representatives/electors that reflected the individual state’s population. Currently, California has the greatest number of representatives/electors, reflecting its large population.
In 1787 this was the Constitutional compromise made in an effort to level the playing field between large and small states and to compensate for the inability of everyday citizens to gain knowledge of the complexities of government action in a timely fashion.
Today, communication and information are rapidly and readily available to everyone. We can all be informed, in real time, about the issues and politicians we support. However, population numbers can be manipulated statewide through the creation of geographic districts where citizens will predictably support one particular view over another. This practice is called gerrymandering.
Through the years, our principal political parties have gleefully indulged in this activity; depending on which party is currently in power. Democrats and Republicans are equal opportunity participants. Hence, there are state district lines drawn creating hexagons, circles, and even elongated strips linking two odd shapes together.
Erased is the concept of one person, one vote and tiny minorities can override the will of the majority; especially in so called “swing states” where support for both parties is narrowly divided. The “winner takes all” concept results in electors for the Electoral College tally being decided by very narrow margins.
This is how a candidate can lose an election even when they are supported by the majority…that is, even when they “win” the popular vote, but don’t gain the necessary 270 electoral votes.
Gerrymandering districts effectively skews the final results of our “free” elections. For example, past presidents inaugurated by the Electoral College vote in spite of not gaining majority support of America’s citizens were Andrew Jackson in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016.
It is time for citizens of the United States to act together as Americans. We can ALL be informed and intelligently exercise our sacred right to vote! It is time to retire the Electoral College and remove from unprincipled politicians the loophole that allows them to thwart the public will.
(Editor’s note: The Electoral College is the body which votes on the president and vice president of the United States, with each state having the same number of electors as members of Congress — senators and representatives. While most states have a “winner-take-all” system for allocating electoral college votes, Nebraska and Maine each have a proportional system, with votes going to the candidate proportional to the amount of the population who cast votes for that candidate. Electors are decided by political party leaders in their respective states.
Gerrymandering is the act of manipulating voting districts in such a way to favor one party, race or group over another. Lines for voting districts are redrawn every 10 years following the census and finalized by the state’s legislative body and governor. There are several different voting district maps in each state, including U.S. Representatives, state representatives and state senators. The presidential race is tallied at-large rather than through the state’s voting districts. The state’s population is not manipulated in the process of redistricting.)
Public safety in Belen
At the last regular council meeting of the city of Belen in December 2021, attention was focused on public safety in a presentation to the city council addressing three areas of immediate concern that have languished over the term of the outgoing administration.
The first is the lack of code enforcement to regulate street cuts and utility work. Without any policy in place for traffic control, public safety is being jeopardized. This was most evident when last summer’s flooding eroded the north bank of Delgado Avenue 3-foot deep, going to the high school.
The city response was to install inadequate “A frame” barricades without any traffic control signs, detour signs or personnel to direct traffic. Photographs of this condition sent to the city’s code enforcement elicited no corrective action.
Wayne Gallegos, former city councilor and fire chief, added to the presentation regarding the administration’s failure to construct the Mae-Reed pond funded in 2019, which may have prevented the Highline Canal breech.
He also pointed out the need for a signal light at the intersection of Camino del Llano and Christopher Road as the traffic count has increased significantly, and the new subdivision on the Mesa will add to the congestion. Mr. Gallegos said the flashing stop signs in place were meant to be a temporary measure.
The new administration has a lot on its plate but with new leadership comes a fresh approach, hopefully to remedy persistent problems and make Belen a safer place to live and work.
Chris Chavez and Wayne Gallegos
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