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Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012

OPINION: Kill the College and make every vote count

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Over the last 24 years, I’ve voted in six different presidential elections...but don’t ask me who I voted for. Not because of wanting to keep it secret, but because I literally couldn’t tell you. I flat-out don’t remember. It was mostly the Libertarian candidates, maybe a Nader thrown in once for good measure, but never one of the “Big Two.” When I tell anyone this, they always ask me why I throw my vote away like that? I always tell them the same thing: “My vote doesn’t count.”

As long the United States continues to elect our president through the Electoral College, I’ll contend that my vote doesn’t count. And neither does yours if you’re not a Republican in South Carolina.

In last month’s election, like the previous 7 or 8, it was known well before the polls closed that South Carolina would go to the Republican candidate. So, if you’re a Democrat, why bother to vote? You already know the outcome. It’s like if you’re a fan of a football team, and you knew in advance that your team was going to lose this weekend’s big rivalry game, would you bother to watch it? If you’re a really big fan, you might tune in periodically to see your favorite players. You might even check the score to see if the predictions were wrong and your team actually had a chance. But when you see the writing on the wall, that your team didn’t have a chance to win just like the experts said, you tune out and lose interest. Your support was in vain.

South Carolina isn’t the only state where this occurs. If you’re a Republican in New York or California, it’s the same for you. Your vote doesn’t count either. So now I don’t feel so alone.

Obviously, there were a handful of states where every vote did count...the so-called ’battleground states.” Those were the states where neither candidate held a big enough advantage to be determined the winner in advance. That’s why nearly a billion dollars was spent in these 12 states and not a penny in South Carolina. That’s why the candidates visited Iowa, Nevada and Pennsylvania over and over again...but ignored you and me. The message is clear: the only way my vote for president counts, is if I move to Florida, Ohio, North Carolina or some other state where Democrats and Republicans live in some sort of harmonic balance.

But I want my vote to count...and I want my vote to count without moving to another state.

People braver than I have fought for my freedoms and rights...including the right to vote. People in other countries die in revolt against tyrants so they can choose their own leader.

The framers of the Constitution were some of the smartest men our country has ever produced. When they came up with the idea of the Electoral College, it was smart...making sure the smaller states weren’t over-run by the will of the larger states. It was also put into place to make sure elections weren’t hijacked by a small group of people with lots of money and influence (not that something like that would ever happen today). But that was put into place before women were even allowed to vote and African slaves were given their freedom...let alone the right to vote.

That was 225 years ago and the country was made up of states that were radically different from one another. People considered themselves to be Virginians or New Yorkers or whatever you call someone from Connecticut. I’ve lived in South Carolina for 25 years but I consider myself to be an American. I’d like my vote to be counted alongside people from New Jersey, Utah and Mississippi...not segregated by geography. If you want to decide who should be leading the country, the only fair measure is to see who gets the most votes. The most votes wins...period.

There have been four times in U.S. history where the candidate who got the most popular votes lost the election due to the quirkiness of the Electoral College...the most recent, of course in 2000.

One person, one vote - it’s the only fair way. What are you afraid of...that there are more of ’them’ than there are of you?

Catch Dave Priest on 99.5, WRNN-FM’s "Hot Talk Morning Show" from 6-10 a.m. Monday through Friday.
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