Electoral College eliminates reason behind right to vote

The Constitution of the United States is a truly remarkable document that weaved the foundation of our country. It is an essential guide for how our government ought to run, but there is one particular element that I believe we must re-evaluate: the Electoral College.

We are incredibly lucky to have the right to vote in this country and we must take advantage of that privilege.

However, I don’t think that we are utilizing our right to the fullest when some votes seem to count more than others.

As a student in Washington state, it doesn’t even matter whom I vote for. Because of King County and other counties on the west side, all 12 of our electoral votes go to the Democratic candidate. As a result, it seems as if my vote doesn’t even count.

According to George Edwards, author of the book “Why the Electoral College is Bad for America”, it discourages voter turnout because people know that their vote won’t make a difference if they’re in the minority or if they’re a state that is clearly going to go for a candidate, it won’t make a difference either and it doesn’t help the candidate to get additional votes.”

Voter turnout is extremely low in the United States; according to the George Madison University United States Election Project, it was only 61.6 percent in 2008.

Our state is so solidly democratic that candidates do not even bother to campaign here. The candidates spend nearly all of their time in swing states such as Ohio.

According to National Journal, Obama’s official campaign committee spent $72,762,477 in Ohio alone. Mitt Romney’s official committee spent $43,198,708.

These numbers do not include spending by other super political action committees (PACs). Millions of dollars were spent in other swing states as well, because candidates knew that these were the votes they would need to win.

Some people argue that the Electoral College causes the candidates to ignore the small states because they won’t have enough impact on the election. However, Edwards writes, “Not only do they ignore small states, but they ignore large states. They ignore California, they ignore Texas and they ignore New York. I mean, the three largest states are ignored. And they’re ignored because they’re not competitive. And that’s due to the Electoral College.”

We are all Americans, and therefore, every vote should be equally important. We should not support a system that encourages the candidates to focus on only a small handful of states and ignore the rest.

I am glad that this election ended with Obama taking the Electoral College as well as the popular vote, because I believe that the person who wins the popular vote should always become president.

Unfortunately, it is possible for a candidate to win the popular vote but not the Electoral College, as was the case in the 2000 election.

The Founders set up this system because they feared tyranny of the majority, as shown in Federalist Paper No. 10, but times have changed. It’s time to switch to a popular vote and have every vote count equally.

Lindsey Hubbart Staff Writer

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.

Washington: Candidates for governor

Washington voters face a choice between Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna in a tight race for governor this November.

Inslee earned a law degree from Willamette University. Living in Yakima, Inslee was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives in 1988 and served until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992. However, after one term, Inslee was defeated in 1994 by the same Republican he beat in the previous election. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1996, but was re-elected to the House of Representatives after moving to Bainbridge Island, a Democrat stronghold in the Puget Sound. Inslee served in the House until stepping down this year to run for governor, leaving Washington’s 1st district without representation in Congress.

While in Congress, Inslee consistently voted  liberal and established a record as a party-line Democrat, according to GovTrack. He had no major committee assignments or legislative achievements, serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Inslee has been an outspoken advocate of government promotion of green energy projects. According to Lisa Hymas of Grist, “If Inslee is elected, he could be the greenest governor in the nation.”

Republican Rob McKenna earned his law degree from the University of Chicago. His political career began when he was elected to the King County Council in 1995. After serving three terms on the Council, McKenna was elected Washington State Attorney General in 2004 and was re-elected in 2008. As Attorney General, McKenna “directs more than 500 attorneys and 700 professional staff providing legal services to state agencies, the Governor and Legislature,” according to the Attorney General’s website. During his time as Attorney General, McKenna argued and won three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, served as the President of the National Association of Attorneys General and streamlined his office’s staff and budget.

McKenna is known for pushing for “transparency in government, prevention of domestic violence, prevention of consumer fraud, stemming gangs, fighting methamphetamines and identity theft,” according to the Wenatchee World. He has a reputation as a moderate and a pragmatist, according to the Walla Walla Union Bulletin. If elected, McKenna would be the state’s first Republican governor in 28 years.

Both candidates pledge to make education a priority. However, while McKenna supports efforts to bring charter schools to Washington, Inslee does not. While both candidates also agree on the need to reform health care, Inslee supports Obamacare, while McKenna is opposed. On social issues, both candidates are pro-choice, and while Inslee supports Referendum 74, which would redefine marriage to include same-sex unions, McKenna is opposed.

McKenna has been endorsed by all 10 Washington newspapers that have made endorsements. He has also received endorsements from 61 mayors across the state and the National Federation of Independent Business, while Inslee has the support of six mayors and the Washington Education Association.

Max Nelsen Staff Writer

Contact Max Nelsen at mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu

Washington: State ballot

Six initiatives and referendums come before Washington voters for approval. Capturing widespread media attention are Referendum 74 concerning same sex marriage and Initative 1240 concerning the creation of charter schools. Initiative 1185, Initiative 502, Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution 8221 and Senate Joint Resolution 8223 are also on the ballot. Initiative 1185 concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government, according to the Secretary of State’s Election website.

The measure would require that the legislature approve tax increases with a two-thirds supermajority, compared to the traditional majority of more than 50 percent. Tax increases could also be passed through statewide voter approval.

Similar measures concerning a supermajority vote have been enacted in Washington state previously; however, the previous statute expired, according to the Secretary of State’s Online Voter’s Guide.

Initiative 502 would legalize production, possession and sale of marijuana for those over 21 years of age.

“Since the legalization movement took hold in the 1970s, at least 11 states — most recently, Rhode Island in 2012 — and several large cities have stripped criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, usually making it an infraction akin to a ticket. Full legalization has been proposed and rejected by voters in Alaska, California and Nevada, and is on the ballot this November in Colorado and Oregon,” according to Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times.

The sale of marijuana would be taxed at 25 percent of the selling rate. No location of sale could be within 1,000 feet of any school, playground, recreation centers, child care center, park, transit center, library or game arcade.

Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution 8221 seeks to redefine the state debt limit.

“This amendment would, starting July 1, 2014, phase-down the debt limit percentage in three steps from nine to eight percent and modify the calculation date, calculation period, and the term general state revenues,” according to Project Vote Smart.

In the Washington state constitution, article VIII, a cap is placed on the percentage of interest and principle paid each year by the state. When any new debt is accrued it must be within the limit. However, in section 1 of article VIII are also exceptions to the debt limit.

“For example, bonds payable from the gas tax and motor vehicle license fees are excluded, as are bonds payable from income received from investing the Permanent Common School Fund,” according to the Online Voter’s Guide.

Senate Joint Resolution 8223 would change regulations concerning investments of the University of Washington and Washington State University.

Being publicly funded universities, there is currently a restriction on where the universities may invest. The amendment would allow them to invest public money into private stocks and bonds with the legislature’s approval.

“This amendment would create an exception to constitutional restrictions on investing public funds by allowing these universities to invest specified public funds as authorized by the legislature, including in private companies or stock,” according to Project Vote Smart.

Caitlyn Starkey Staff Writer

Contact Caitlyn Starkey at cstarkey13@my.whitworth.edu