Shortly after the 2016 Presidential Election, I wrote a column expressing my discontent for the Electoral College.
My issues have nothing to with how an election turns out. I believe the Electoral College is a disservice to both the Democrat and Republican Parties to the point where, even if our candidate comes out on top, we are still shortchanged in certain ways.
I understand the initial intent of the Electoral College was to force candidates to campaign in every state, but things have changed. With social media and all other forms of technology and communication, candidates can get their message across from one end of the country to the other without a problem.
The issue is the Electoral College keeps the people from deciding the winner and it helps candidates cherry pick issues they treat as important. In an election where things are run properly, every issue will come to the forefront.
Having said all of those things, if we are going to abolish the Electoral College prior to the 2020 Presidential Election, the time to do so is now. Democrats and Republicans are starting to announce their candidacies and the process should be the same from start to finish.
We should not change the rules in the middle of the game. Candidates should know the rules and campaign accordingly.
Those of us who are old enough to remember will never forget the 2000 Presidential Election. We had to wait weeks to find out if Republican George W. Bush or Democrat Al Gore would be the winner. The United States Supreme Court finally declared Bush the winner.
While the Electoral College had no bearing on the Supreme Court’s decision, there would have been no debate on the winner if the popular vote determined the outcome. Gore would have been the 43rd President of the United States, not Bush.
Bush did win the election by the slimmest of margins in the Electoral College – 271 to 266.
I remember a reporter asking Bush how he felt about the situation before he was declared the winner. Bush’s answer was accurate and showed the problems of the Electoral College.
Bush said he should still win because, if there was no Electoral College, he would have done some things differently in his campaign.
As the late Tim Russert of NBC said on the night of the election,“Florida, Florida, Florida," would determine the winner. Bush won the Electoral Votes in the state of Florida by the slimmest of margins and probably spent little or at least less time in states he won easily.
That is why, if something is going to be done about the Electoral College, the time is now before candidates get heated up on the campaign trail. And something should be done considering the candidate who won the popular vote lost the election in two of the last five Presidential Elections.
But, as I stated earlier, we cannot change the rules in the middle of the game, so if something is going to be done for the 2020 election, the time is now.
I have lived in Mississippi for the past eight years and I have not seen any candidate – Democrat or Republican – spend a lot of time here.
President Donald Trump has traveled through Mississippi on some occasions and that keeps his base happy. At the same time, he knows he does not have to work extra hard to secure the votes in Mississippi because it is a Republican state.
Coahoma County, like most of the Delta and unlike the majority of the state, leans toward the Democratic side. Trump has had the luxury of knowing he did not have to campaign here or listen to our issues because he most likely won Mississippi anyway.
Former President Barack Obama received 75 percent of the votes in Coahoma County during the 2012 election. That raises two issues with the Electoral College.
One, since Obama lost the Electoral votes in Mississippi, nothing that happened in Coahoma County helped him get reelected. Therefore, our issues may not have been at the forefront of his mind.
Two, every vote matters and with the Electoral College, Obama had no reason to come here and hear the concerns of the other 25 percent of our citizens. He was busy campaigning in Ohio, which was a major swing state in the 2012 Presidential Election.
I have used the last two elections as examples - one where the Democrat won and the other where the Republican won – to show the scenario does not matter.
The Electoral College causes our concerns to be overlooked here in the Delta.
Change is needed, but we should not change something just for the sake of change. It must be thought out and fair to every candidate running for President of the United States.
That is why it is important to get rid of the Electoral College immediately before it is too late for the 2020 Presidential Election and we have to wait another four years to vote in a potentially fair contest.
Josh Troy is the managing editor of The Clarksdale Press Register. He can be reached by calling 662-627-2201 or by email at email@example.com.