Bob Buckley for The Examiner: Electoral College is an Outdated Relic

Bob Buckley, partner at White, Graham, Buckley & Carr, is a regular columnist for The Examiner of East Jackson County. In his latest column, Buckley discusses the Electoral College and how a current U.S. Supreme Court case that could impact the 2020 presidential election.

The article, Electoral College is an Outdated Relic, was published in the April 6 edition of The Examiner. An excerpt from the article is below.

My father was a collector. He collected old guns, coins, stamps and books. His favorite old gun was the Henry rifle, the predecessor to the Winchester. He said that at one time he had the largest collection west of the Mississippi, but I am not sure how he would have known that. It was designed in 1860 and was used in the Civil War, and approximately 14,000 were produced. It was a repeating rifle that could hold 16-17 shots. My dad sold his collection many years before he died. My mother was not as enthusiastic about his guns.

My dad also collected books. The third floor of our home was converted into a library. My dad brought several thousand books from a man who lived in Blue Summit who had stored them in his basement and garage, and my dad bought them all. My siblings, nephews and nieces are in the midst of an inventory of the books. After checking, most have little value. With the advent of digital books, the value of hard copies has diminished. My family will find that it is easy to get distracted during the inventory and begin reading some of the books.

My distraction led me to a book published in the year I was born, 1953: “But We Were Born Free.” The author, Elmer Davis, a preacher had preached sermons “defending the freedom of the mind.”

One chapter is based on a speech he gave at Yale University and it is entitled: “Improving on Founding Fathers.” He quotes William E. Gladstone, who described “our Constitution as the most wonderful work ever struck off at one time by the brain and purpose of man.” He also says that, “many of (our) own citizens would regard criticism of the Constitution in general as no better than blasphemy.”

The sermon addresses parts of the Constitution that could use some improvement, and it should be no surprise that the Electoral College is one of them. It is still a hot topic 67 years later. Many believe the Electoral College should be eliminated. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes but lost the Electoral College vote in the 2016 election. Davis referred to the Electoral College as a “vermiform appendix” which is another name for the human appendix, which serves no useful purpose in the human body.

The point Davis and others have made about the Electoral College is that is outdated. Until the Constitution was amended with the 17th Amendment in 1912, United States senators were selected by the state legislatures and not by the citizens of the state. When the Constitution was adopted, the Constitution provided for two senators from each state to be elected by the legislatures. The original Constitution also provided for selection of electors for the Electoral College by the state legislatures. That provision still exists as state legislation dictates how the electors in each state are selected. Most are by popular vote, but some are in proportion to the vote so the winner does not take all of the electoral votes. The number of electoral votes for each state is based on the number of representatives for each state in addition to the two Senate votes for each state, which is why Wyoming has only three votes.