Vote up or shut up

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By John Pawlak

College is defined as “an institution or self-governing body of higher learning.”  As such, one might expect the US Electoral College to have something to do with higher learning.  Or perhaps expect it to somehow be associated with intelligence.
One would be wrong to expect that.
The U.S. Electoral College isn’t a place.  It’s an irrational election process embedded into our Constitution that proves that the Founding Fathers enjoyed a drink now and then (and then again).  It reads something like this:
 “If a complex n-manifold has algebraically independent meromorphic functions, does its covariant derivative define a Riemannian metric?”
 Hmm, nix that.  That’s an obtuse math question.  But it does read far more clearly than our constitutional Electoral College’s process.  I encourage you to wade through the Constitution’s text and read the 12th Amendment.  Fair warning — wear thick boots.
 And so here we go again.  For a brief moment (not brief enough), our nation of 314 million people stops arguing about sports teams.  Citizens stop arguing about who should win Dancing with the Stars.  They stop arguing about whether Bubba the Love Sponge really said all those nasty things about Hulk Hogan.
 And instead, they argue politics.
 Personally, I’d rather discuss Hulk Hogan’s love life.
Anyway, back to the Electoral College, the upcoming elections, and the frightening rise in the price of high quality chocolates.
  Back in the 2000 elections, George Bush won the Presidential election.  Ah, but did he really “win” it?
 Al Gore received 50,999,897 votes.  Bush received 50,456,002 votes.  In a normal, sane, or otherwise rational civilization (especially one that claims to idolize democracy), Gore would have won the election.  But the Constitution established a practice that chooses the “practicality” of representation over that of compos mentis.
 In other words, you get to vote, but it’s not always a fair playing field.  A candidate with 50.01 percent of the state’s vote acquires 100 percent of the representative Electoral College vote.  (Nebraska and Maine are exceptions; they split their electoral votes to match the popular vote.)
 Using “popular vote,” the winner is selected based on simple plurality of votes, not electoral “raise your political hand if you want this guy to win” votes.  Three people before President Bush won the election without winning the popular vote; John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison.
 As insane as it sounds, even if all 220 million eligible voters voted, a candidate could win the Electoral vote with just over 22 percent of the popular vote (unlikely, but mathematically possible).
 22 percent?
Imagine that!  Seriously, what were the Founding Fathers smoking?
We should adopt the democratic mentality of letting plurality of the people, and not constitutional representatives, decide who wins Presidential elections.  But we should also recognize that democracy is not a panacea for all things.  On a criminal jury, your single vote can stop the other eleven jurors from declaring someone guilty.  In a purely democratic setting, seven of the twelve jurors would make the final decision.
 But I digress.  As much as the Electoral College acerbates my sense of fair play, what peeves me even more is people not voting at all.  In 2008, only 56.8% of eligible voters voted.  Nearly 100 million eligible voters did not vote!
The right to vote is perhaps the only truly sacred privilege afforded the average person in this country.
 Rich or poor, man or woman, black or white, our vote is our one true equality.  We each get one vote.
I strongly disagree with the policies of many candidates.  I fear their plans for this country.  I view some as bigots, some as idiots, and some as downright dangerous sociopaths.  
And I have one vote with which to formally declare my objection to their obtaining office.
Whether you agree or disagree with my politics, you have no real “right” to disagree with what politicians do if you don’t vote.
 When a candidate you dislike “wins”, whether electorally or popularly, and you didn’t vote, the true loser is you.  
Electoral or popular, level of not, the playing field means nothing if you don’t play.
So speak up and let your vote be heard.  Vote up or shut up!  
John Pawlak  
 Los Alamos Columnist