The League of Women Voters first adopted the position of abolishing the Electoral College in 1970, advocating for the direct election of the President by popular vote as essential to a representative government. As Americans increasingly embrace this position, the Illinois League has instituted a project to make abolishing the Electoral College a primary goal for all 700 Leagues across the country.
Part of the League’s core mission is to promote “the informed and active participation of citizens in government.” On November 26, the North Side Unit of the LWV Chicago invited Rosemary Heilemann, LWVIL Issue Specialist, to shed light on a voting system that is antiquated and confusing.
More than 50 League members and concerned citizens gathered at the Sulzer Library for a comprehensive presentation on the history of the Electoral College and its effects on our democracy.
As Heilemann explained, the framers of the constitution sought a system for selecting the President that would represent the will of the people and bridge the communication gap posed by large distances. The compromise was the Electoral College. Even then, the framers viewed this “intermediary system” as imperfect: “The second choice of many but the first choice of few.”
“Why does the League of Women Voters take the position to abolish the Electoral College?” Heilemann asks. “It’s really very simple. It comes down to the concept of one person, one vote.”
The unintended result of the Electoral College is that the Presidency is determined by voters in only a few so-called “swing” states, discouraging turnout in non-swing states and polarizing the electorate. On five occasions, two in recent history, the Presidential win has gone to the popular-vote loser. “It’s time to start building the momentum that will once and for all abolish this dysfunctional system of electing our President.”
Finally, Heilemann encourages everyone to “spread the word!” The entire presentation and accompanying script are available on the LWV Wilmette website.
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