CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This is the kind of election year that gets the adrenaline pumping. We will choose between two very different candidates expressing very different directions for the country.
Recently, it has become fashionable to challenge the use of the electoral college in the election of president. Supporters would have you believe that you are cheated out of your vote as a result. History does not agree.
The Electoral College was designed to give small states like West Virginia a fighting chance when electing our President. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution gives each state legislature the power to decide how its state's presidential electors are selected. All but two states (Nebraska and Maine) use a winner-take-all system in which the person who gets the most popular votes in that state wins all of its electoral votes.
Of the past four presidential elections, only once was West Virginia's popular vote choice not the winner. West Virginia voted for McCain in 2008 by 84,000 votes, G.W. Bush in 2004 by 95,000 votes, G.W. Bush in 2000 by 41,000 votes, and Bill Clinton in 1996 by 93,000 votes.
During the regular 2012 Legislative Session, House Bill 2378, The Agreement among States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote, was introduced. Supporters want you to believe it will level the playing field. It does not. In fact, such legislation puts the election of our President in the hands of the most populous portions of the country, making it even harder for the voice of West Virginia to be heard.
The Census Bureau estimates West Virginia's population at 1.8 million. A record 1.1 million were registered to vote in 2008. However, even with a voter turnout of 61 percent, we were still second lowest in the nation. The Electoral College guarantees West Virginia will have five electoral votes whether we have 1.1 million popular votes for president, or one.
There is no reason to think the Electoral College has been a disservice to West Virginia, or the United States. In 236 years, only four times has the Electoral College over ruled the popular vote in the election of the U.S. President.
Holstein, of Belle, is a candidate for the House of Delegates Kanawha County's 36th District.