Winners who lost, losers who won

WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde (The Freeman) - November 12, 2020 - 12:00am

I wrote before there is sport in every aspect of life, especially politics. Nowhere is this more evident than in the recent US elections where many were confused with how they elect their president, some Americans included.

What on earth is the system of electoral college? Why two separate counts for popular vote and electoral college race to 270? Unlike us who directly vote our president, the Americans indirectly vote theirs. If a candidate wins the popular vote in one state regardless of margin, he gets all the electoral college votes based on population.

Let us exemplify by using 220,000 voters from 3 states with 40,000, 70,000 and 110,000 voters represented by 4, 7 and 11 electors, respectively, or a total of 22. The first to obtain majority of 12 wins:

State 1  State 2  State 3

Candidate           40,000   4              70,000   7              110,000 11           Votes won          Electors won

A             15,000   0              60,000   7              50,000   0              125,000 7

B             25,000   4              10,000   0              60,000   11           95,000   15

Even if A obtained 30,000 more votes, B still wins because he obtained majority electoral votes from the 2 states he won regardless of margin. Just like volleyball where teams race to 25 points to win a set and the first to win 3 out of 5 sets wins the match. Let us illustrate if it goes the distance:

Team     1st Set  2nd Set 3rd Set  4th Set  5th Set  Points won         Sets won

A             25           25           20           20           10           100         2

B             5              10           25           25           15           80           3

Having won 3 sets to 2, Team B still wins the match even if it won only 80 points against 100 points of Team A. This winner-take-all scheme tests consistency. It may not make sense within context of elections in a representative government such as ours where all government authority emanates from the people, best concretized by their power to directly vote for their representatives. But suffrage only works if based on a free and informed choice. Even then, information is one thing, education is another. Oddly, wisdom is not taught. One dumb vote counts as much as one smart vote.

Had Joe Biden lost to Donald Trump in the electoral vote despite leading by at least 4 million votes, Americans would have revisited their antiquated system that robbed them of their choice at least five times in history. In 2000, Al Gore lost to George W. Bush, 266-271, despite obtaining half a million more votes, but conceded like a statesman would. Four years ago, Trump stunned the world when he upset Hillary Clinton by geographical accident, 304-227. Despite obtaining 2.8 million more votes, Hillary was stood up by her date with history. But she conceded, like a gracious lady would, in public at least. Now someone lost both counts but refuses to concede. Surprise, he’s not a Filipino candidate.

Among others, the electoral college system was introduced in the 18th century because voters lacked resources to be fully informed about the candidates. Today information is at the tip of our fingers and at the cusp of wagging tongues of fake news reporters. Exactly why we are over-informed but misinformed. I wish we neutralize these peddlers by using our fingers responsibly, especially the middle.

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