Betcha didn’t know…

My good friend over at Recce Room posted earlier today on the layers of representation that are prescribed for us in the representative democracy in which we live. He points out, for example, that once-upon-a-time our U.S. senators were chosen by the state legislatures, and not directly by the people as they are today.

One thing I’d add to the list is that the Constitution doesn’t require that the electors who ultimately vote for U.S. President be chosen directly by the people. I remember back in my American history class in high school, our teacher informed us that in all likelihood none of us would ever vote for president. I thought it was an odd thing to say. Of course we were going to vote for president. Why would we not? This is how he segued into an explanation of the electoral college. On election day every four years, we go to the polls and vote for the electors of our candidate of choice. We don’t actually vote for the candidate directly.

But the Constitution doesn’t even guarantee this right. Granted, we Americans have historically chosen presidential electors by popular vote, but the Constitution specifically states, “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.” In other words, a state legislature would be within constitutional bounds to choose that state’s electors without any sort of popular vote. Of course, such a thing would never be considered. Even though it’s constitutional, no court in 2016 would ever allow it, and I would wager that few voters even know about this provision.


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