In light of the concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19 and the use of mail-in ballots, state legislators should reassert their authority to select Presidential electors.
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There’s a lot of concern about the potential disenfranchisement of millions of people in the upcoming Presidential election. Trump and Republicans decry the potential for fraud and confusion stemming from mail-in ballots, while Democrats promote them as an easy, healthy way to ensure everyone has the opportunity to vote.
There is, however, another option, one steeped in the earliest traditions of our country, one that I think we should consider.
We just shouldn’t vote for President at all.
The Constitution allows each state to select electors however they like. There’s no requirement that the states choose electors based upon a popular vote or that there be any such vote at all.
This year, each state legislature should simply select the best-qualified citizens to serve as unpledged electors, allowing them to cast their votes as they see fit. Given the two terrible choices we have this year, this is the best chance we have to elect an actually competent, qualified President.
The people at large may not even be too upset by whomever the electors select, given the small number who are pleased with either candidate. At the same time, doing this would remove any safety concerns about in-person voting while also eschewing the potential chaos from large-scale mail-in voting.
It’s also important to recognize that this would not be an unprecedented move. It was common in the early days of the United States for state legislatures to select the electors, rather than submitting the matter to the populace. Indeed, such a system provided us with our first five Presidents, all universally great.
Once the system entirely fell apart, we got Andrew Jackson. The quiet, learned competence that defined our earliest Presidents gave way to great orators and the occasional demagogue.
Why don’t we give it a try this year? What do we have to lose?