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Eliminate winner-take-all selection of electors - the State stranglehold on the Union

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Written by Thomas Jefferson, modified and unanimously approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence opens with stirring ideas we all learn as children: “We hold these truths to be self-evident. . . created equal . . . endowed . . . with certain unalienable rights, . . . to secure these rights, governments are instituted . . . deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. “

The dream in the Declaration is that we the people should each have an equal voice and be governed only with “the consent of the governed”. The Constitution failed to honor that dream. 

Besides the much-discussed disproportionate allocation of electors to the Electoral College, a second even more powerful political compromise was inserted into the Constitution to provide not only slave states but all states with a stranglehold on dissenting voices - allowing a winner-take-all allocation of electors in each state.

In the 2016 Presidential election, it did not matter if we voted for the Democratic, Republican or Independent candidate - 46% of our votes did not count. The “winner-take-all” strategy made certain that anyone not agreeing with the majority of voters in their home state would have their vote discarded prior to the Electoral College convening. Out of approximately 136 million votes cast, more than 64 million voters (46%) were not represented by the electors. In some states with third party candidates, more than 55% of the votes cast had no bearing on the final selection of our President. The Presidency was decided without the “consent of the governed”. The rights of states took precedence over the rights of citizens and the nation. On August 22, 2016, in litigation initiated by the ACLU (Missouri NAACP v. Ferguson-Florissant School District) a federal court ruled that the electoral process employed by the district “dilutes the voting power” of the African-American community, in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Like many of you, I am not versed in Constitutional Law. I teach undergraduate physics and engineering students how to build scientific and medical instruments. But, regardless of our expertise, I suspect both you and I understand the phrase “dilution of voting power”. The ultimate dilution of that power is to have our vote not count at all - a dilution that impacts all of us based only on geography.

This petition asks the American Civil Liberties Union to help “we the people” demonstrate in federal court that the winner-take-all state electoral system “dilutes the voting power” of the electorate and removes from the Presidential election process “the consent of the governed”.

I am asking the ACLU to do for our nation what they did for Missouri, make each vote count by declaring null and void any election process that sidesteps the “consent of the governed”. This action pits the intent, precedence, and authority of the Declaration of Independence against the power of the Constitution. It asks us to decide if there is one overarching concept of equality and consent of the governed in the Declaration that cannot be bartered away by any Constitutional compromise.

As the last national remnant of the pre-Civil War America slave era, the winner-take-all state system is an extraordinarily effective way to concentrate power in local hands at the expense of national unity and quell dissent. It is unclear how a nation can survive if its individual member states disenfranchise almost half of their voters. We cannot tackle national and global issues if we continue to act as warring states within our own country. 

The photo above shows me pushing on a gigantic rock on the ice of Lake Untersee, Russian sector of Antarctica during a recent scientific expedition. What I am asking of you may be a bit like trying to move that rock. I couldn’t move the rock alone, and I cannot produce a democratic, one-person-one-vote electoral system alone. I need your help. We are the country that the world hopes will “get it right”. It is time to start. 

Today: Michael is counting on you

Michael Storrie-Lombardi, M.D. (Ret.) needs your help with “American Civil Liberties Union: Eliminate winner-take-all selection of electors - the State stranglehold on the Union”. Join Michael and 26 supporters today.