Kenya needs Electoral College system - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 8 November 2020

Kenya needs Electoral College system

 

From the day he descended an escalator to the lobby where he announced his candidacy for the presidency, Donald J. Trump did not hide who he is: A racist who thrives on chaos, misdirection and lies. American voters have spoken, and what a good riddance it is getting him booted from office- if that happens

Trump shocked the world by winning the presidency in 2016, a victory that even he did not believe he would win. To be sure, he did not win the popular vote—his rival, Hillary Clinton, won that. but he was declared president because he won the requisite votes in the Electoral College.

What the Electoral College is, how it functions and how it has served American federalism over the centuries is the stuff for the lecture halls but, for the sake of this article, let’s just understand it as a body of electors who elect a US president after a general election.

Electors are chosen by each state, according to each state’s representation in the Congress, meaning there are 538 total electors chosen every general election. The number of votes by these electors needed to be declared president is 270.

The purpose of the Electoral College is to promote “political stability; preserve the Constitutional role of the states in presidential elections; and to foster a broad-based, enduring, and generally moderate political party,” according to its architects.

In other words, it evens the ground between small states that are sparsely populated and large ones with heavy population.

Were it not for the Electoral College requirement — were it to be that a president is elected by simply getting the most votes — candidates will only focus their campaigns on densely populated states and ignore sparsely populated ones, therefore, denying the latter opportunity to elect a president.

Critics point to this very notion as the reason the electoral college should be done away with, namely, the system produces situations where someone who has not won the popular vote is declared president because he winged together several key states to achieve electoral college victory.

Indeed, five times in US history, presidential candidates who won more votes than their opponent saw their victory snatched away because of this system.

The Electoral College also stymies and makes it impossible for third parties to succeed in fielding a presidential candidate.

However, despite the shortcomings of the system, it is there to stay as getting rid of it would require a constitutional amendment that cannot pass unless supported by the very states that stand to lose were it to be eliminated.

Put another way, the Electoral College benefits the many small states by guaranteeing them a seat at the table in electing a president.

This is desirable and we, too, should borrow the idea and enshrine it in our own Constitution.

As we have it now, to be elected president, one must garner 50 per cent plus one (50 per cent +1) and get majority of the votes in 24 of the 47 counties.

To protect marginalised counties, which are the equivalent of small states in America, BBI should amend the Constitution to require, for example, of the 24 counties one must win a majority of the votes, a number of them, say, seven, must be counties that are least populated such as Lamu or those where marginalised communities reside such as the Saboats, the Ogieks, the Kurias and others.

Were this to be done, we can then finally start addressing the needs of these marginalised communities that are always ignored, even by presidential candidates because their votes are deemed too few to bother.

Of course, having these marginalised communities’ role in electing the president elevated does not mean it is the end to their plight. More must be done to make sure they partake of the national cake more equitably.

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