By Ric Llewellyn
Kern County is a good place to live if you are politically conservative. Maybe a little frustrating if you are politically progressive.We have a presidential election coming up in a few weeks. Many of us in Kern County are committed to voting every time there is an election. We take the right, the opportunity and the responsibility seriously regardless of our political affiliation.
From time to time we have an election that creates a lot of passion on one side or the other. Sometimes the passions rise on both sides. Recently the presidential elections have been like that.
In Kern County I expect the vote will be split about 60/40
for the Romney-Ryan ticket. Conservatives here are probably encouraged knowing this is a reasonable expectation. It makes us feel like our vote really does count.
But, simply put, our votes do not count. While they may be tallied, our votes are disregarded in the Electoral College. And that's where the election actually takes place.
Our system of electing a president is prescribed in the United States Constitution. Not a direct popular vote, our president and vice president are elected by a college of electors composed of people designated by their parties and awarded according to the popular vote in each state.
The problem is not the Electoral College (which copies our system of federal representation), it is the states' methods of awarding the electors to candidates.
In California, specifically, electors are awarded on a winner-take-all basis. This means those of us in Kern County who will vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket have NO voice in the actual election of our president and vice president. Those who will vote for the Obama-Biden ticket will be the only ones represented.
Some would even say our votes will actually be effectively counted as votes for the opposing ticket. Regardless of the popular vote split, all California's electoral votes will be cast for the winner.
The problem again is not the Electoral College. It is the method California uses to distribute its electors.
The silver lining is this. It does not take a Constitutional Amendment to change this de facto disenfranchisement. It is merely a legislative problem that can be rectified by our State Assembly and Senate members.
But why would they? California is a notoriously Democrat state. Democrats control the entire government. Why would Democrats empower Republicans ... or Libertarians or Greens, for that matter?
Because what goes around, comes around. Democrats do control the state government ... now. It is only the short-sighted arrogance of power that blinds the majority to the prospect of one day being in my place -- having no vote because of the winner-take-all system.
But it is even worse. California is one of eight states plus the District of Columbia that have signed onto the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would award electoral votes based on the NATIONAL popular vote. And that should shake even the most arrogant Democrat out of his or her self-satisfaction.
While the provision is now in abeyance awaiting other states to embrace it, it represents a terrible corruption of the voting process. Imagine our perennially blue California voting for the Democrat ticket by a wide margin but our Electoral College votes being awarded to the Republican ticket!
I know; that's how I feel right now.
On Tuesday, Nov. 6 we will gladly perform our duty as citizens and vote. Yet we already know that California is not important in this presidential election. It is considered a lock for the Democrat's ticket. And why is our state not important? Because all 55 electoral votes go to the winner of the popular vote in the state, no matter how close the vote is.
If our state representatives would change the manner by which electoral votes are distributed to a proportional one, our votes WOULD matter. A 52/48 result would distribute 26 votes to the loser and 29 to the winner instead of 0 and 55.
McGovern's 55/42 loss to Nixon in 1972 would have gotten him 18 electoral votes. Even the 60/40 drubbing McCain-Palin took in 2008 would have resulted in 22 electoral votes for that ticket. That's equal to or more than the votes these so-called 2012 battleground states represent: Nevada (6), Iowa (6), Colorado (9), Wisconsin (10), Virginia (13), North Carolina (15) and Ohio (18).
That simple revision would enable everyone to exercise their voting franchise by proportion and OUR state would matter as a battleground for ideas and the direction of our country.
We need to pressure our legislature to change the distribution of our state's Electoral College votes to a directly proportional one. Not because I am in the minority, but because every vote should count.
-- Ric Llewellyn is one of three community columnists whose work appears here every Saturday. These are the opinions of Llewellyn, not necessarily The Californian. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week: Heather Ijames.