The Union Recorder

Columns

October 24, 2012

Ohio on my mind

MILLEDGEVILLE — If only we were Ohio. I really don’t like to get into politics. It’s a sure-fire way for one’s opinion of you to change within minutes. I admit it, that’s how I feel. When I hear some of the political things people say, I try desperately not to listen. I find that discussing politics often extends a conversation much longer than is tolerable and often gets my goat. I’ve reluctantly written about politics before, and the one time I did, it led to me writing an article about the postal service. You’ll have to look that one up. But in discussing politics, one could equate it to speaking about religion. It’s simply a line that I typically don’t like to cross.

With the presidential election less than two weeks away and the recent conclusion of the presidential and vice-presidential debates, I am reminded of how voting should be a privilege and not a right and that one person should equal one vote.

Many of us, myself included, complain about the state of the economy, our bank accounts and any myriad of things that often tie back to political beliefs and issues. I don’t believe in the party system. I feel that it is somewhat archaic and doesn’t truly reflect the populous. For years I voted along Republican lines. At the time, the few issues that I really cared about aligned more with that party. And that isn’t to say that it was perfectly aligned. But as many often say, I chose the lesser of the two primary evils. I have since changed parties, but I refuse to consider myself any one thing. I agree with views from each of the primary parties, but they are not mutually exclusive. Who can really say that they completely believe in the views of a singular party?

I think that Americans’ right to vote is being abused. So many citizens don’t execute this right and so many in turn complain about the very issues they’d have a say in. If you don’t vote, just don’t say anything. It’s frustrating enough that even my tiny vote counts very little in the grand scheme of things.

I’m sure many of you know of the Electoral College but less understand it. If it weren’t for the Electoral College, four of our known presidents would’ve been completely different. Do you remember when Al Gore was president? No, Al Gore was never actually president, but there are very valid arguments as to why he should’ve been. When you go to the polls to vote, do you realize that you’re only one small part in an overly complicated and antiquated voting system? Al Gore, whom I sadly didn’t vote for, won the popular vote by more than 500,000 votes but lost due to the Electoral College. Crazy, right?

According to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who originally co-sponsored legislation to abolish the Electoral College in 1993 and renewed his call shortly before the presidential election of 2000, “the Electoral College is an anachronism badly in need of retirement. Created during the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the Electoral College was thought to add stability to 13 loosely knit states where communications and travel were slow and illiteracy high.” Those were of course the days of horses and bayonets. He adds, “delegates were concerned that voters would lack sufficient knowledge of the candidates to make an informed choice and only local favorites would receive popular support.” I suppose that could still be argued today, but “these concerns have largely disappeared and, 200 years later, the rationale for replacing the Electoral College with a direct popular vote is clear and compelling. The Electoral College is undemocratic and inherently unfair. Wyoming, for example, has 160,000 people for each electoral vote, while Illinois has more than 550,000. Awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate with a popular vote plurality in the state means millions of voters are disenfranchised. Essentially, votes are taken away from those supporting the losing candidate and added to those supporting the winning candidate. In comparison, a direct popular vote — with its one-person one-vote system — is the foundation of democracy.”

Have you noticed how little campaigning is done by the candidates in Georgia? Yes, I realize that we have been spared the bulk of the annoying commercials; however, it’s almost as if our votes don’t matter. The Electoral College is, according to the Oxford Dictionary of Politics, “a mechanism for the indirect election of public officials. For the purpose of electing the President and Vice President of the United States a 538-member Electoral College is created with each state having as many electors as it has representatives and senators in the national Legislature, plus 3 for the District of Columbia. To be elected, a candidate must obtain an absolute majority in the Electoral College, currently 270. If no candidate gains an absolute majority, the US House of Representatives makes the choice, with the delegation from each state having one vote.”

Swing states like Ohio are known as a battle ground states and are those that have no one party or candidate with overwhelming support. Ohio has long been considered a swing state and is noted as the key state in the 2004 election. However, why should their 20 electoral votes be deemed more important than Georgia’s 15? Why should any one state be more important than the next when selecting the person who will represent us all? I feel that despite a state’s population, it’s more important for those who care to be counted. This has not deterred me from voting. However, if Georgia (15) has more voter turnout (people who care enough to exercise their right to vote) than California (55), why should California have more electoral votes? Let’s make it simple — one person, one vote.

LaToya M. Davidson can be contacted at latoyadavidson@me.com, or follow her on Twitter, @LaToyaonUR.

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