Monday, April 15, 2024

Letters to the editor April 1

| April 1, 2024 12:00 AM

Electoral college

I have to respond to Jim Elliot’s column “Bringing the electoral college into the present.”

Mr. Elliot’s reduction of the rationale for the electoral college to the slow speed of the spread of information is simplistic at best, as is his claim that the rationale of a naïve and uninformed public is obsolete and needs to be brought into the 21st century. While there may be a need to change the electoral college in some way, his arguments are weak, and ignore two basic principles.

First, the fact that we can spread news at the speed of an electron does not translate into an informed public, nor does it reduce public naivety. In fact, I would argue, it makes it more likely that misinformation is spread and believed. Another ignorance factor that still exists today and may even be more prevalent, is that the bulk of the American population is urban, and is highly ignorant of the issues and concerns faced by rural populations.

That brings up the second principle. He ignores one of the biggest reasons for the electoral college that applies particularly to Montana, a sparsely populated state. The electoral college provides Montanans with a reason to vote for president, because without it, our handful of popular votes would not even be sought, and presidential candidates would likely take little notice of the needs of a state that is vastly different from high-population urban areas. The electoral college helps ensure that rural states with lower populations have a voice. At least with the electoral college process, candidates are forced to seek votes from multiple states, large and small, urban and rural, which should result in a president that will consider the needs of the entire country.

If we intend to do away with the electoral college, we must do as the founders did and seek another way to avoid the “tyranny of the majority.” 

We have already seen that a presidential primary vote in Montana is totally useless, if we switch to a simple popular vote, it will be equally useless to vote in the presidential election.

— Annora Nelson, Trego