As I write this, the election still is two days away; as you read it, the dust might already have settled, with the presidency entrusted to one of the candidates for the next four years.
Or not. The race is so close and contentious that every vote in every crucial county will be subject to extraordinary scrutiny and the declaration of a winner could take a while, as it did in 2000.
But let’s hope not. Whatever the race is like, a good election is transparent and decisive. May this one be.
And may it provide a little breathing space for us to consider our electoral process before the race for 2016 begins, which will be soon enough.
First: It’s probably time to do away with the Electoral College. The best book I know of on this subject is “Why the Electoral College is Bad for America,” by George C. Edwards III, a professor of political science at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. He argues that the Electoral College might not have been such a bad idea at the beginning, but the founders would have had a hard time imagining how unsuited its original purposes are for the modern United States.
Edwards’ arguments are cogent and convincing, and they’re couched in his justified reluctance to tinker with the U.S. Constitution. Still, he points out that when the Constitution has been amended in the past, often the direction is toward more enfranchisement — of blacks, of women — rather than less, and abolishing the Electoral College would enfranchise millions of Democratic voters in Texas and Republican voters in California.
Of course, the abolishment of the Electoral College has been proposed many times in the past without success. But maybe it’s time to do some bold thinking on this subject for the good of the republic.
Second: In Mexico, you cannot buy a drink on Election Day — no cervezas, no margaritas, no alcohol of any kind. Believe me, I’ve tried. The presidential election is always conducted on Sunday, a day when many Mexicans are off work. Furthermore, beginning on the previous Wednesday, campaigning and political advertising are forbidden by law, and polling organizations aren’t allowed to release the results of their polls until after the election.