From institutional racism and corporate machinations to government incompetence, these four elements of our electoral process explain why it’s not the people who actually choose the president.
With the start of 2016, election year is now upon us.
While you certainly know that, come November, we’ll elect our next president, what you may not know–or may have blocked out of your mind–is that January 6, 2016 marks the 15th anniversary of a rather important moment in the history of U.S. elections.
On January 6, 2001, after one of the closest presidential races the U.S. had ever seen—and a long recount mired in controversy, only to be ended by an order from the Supreme Court—Congress declared George W. Bush the official winner of the 2000 presidential election. As a result of contested Florida ballots, this declaration occurred more than five weeks after the election had taken place.
Outside of Congress, among the average Americans who had gone out to the polls five weeks before, what made this result so astounding was that Bush’s opponent, Al Gore, had actually won the popular vote–yet he was not elected. However, when the Supreme Court ended the Florida recount, that state’s 25 votes in the electoral college (more on that later) went to Bush, giving him the victory in the electoral college, and thus the presidency. As crazy as that all sounds, it was actually the third time that a presidential candidate had won the popular vote and lost the election.
The U.S. electoral system is full of unbelievable, shall we say, “quirks” that disrupt the integrity and the basic logic of the democratic process. From the Electoral College to absurd voter restrictions, these laws and processes actually help decide who will run our country. Starting with the electoral college that gave Bush his victory 15 years ago, here are four of the most unbelievable U.S. election laws…