Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 11, 2012

How we vote, and why

By WILSON BUTT
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Whew ... it’s over with. But don’t fret. If you thrive on elections and politics, it might satisfy your thirst to know that the politicians are already beginning to think about the 2014 and 2016 elections. Win, lose or draw we will elect another president in 2016.

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As far as last week’s election goes, if your candidate won, great. If not, there are ways to deal with the disappointment — or at least there are ways to keep from blowing your top. The coal people have taken a deep breath. However, some will be holding that breath to see what happens.

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The name Electoral College is a name given to the body of electors that elect our president. Electors are chosen by each state and the District of Colombia. The total numbers of electors is 538. The Constitution specifies the number of electors to which each state is entitled. However, the method of choosing those electors is left to the state legislatures. Electors cast their ballots for the candidate who wins the popular vote in their respective state. The District of Colombia has three electors. West Virginia has five. Virginia has 13. Electors will meet in their respective states on Nov. 17 and cast their ballots.  

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Whether or not we agree with the outcome of the election from the top to the bottom of the ballot, we should recognize that each and every person that voted chose to do so freely and voluntarily. We almost always vote for those that will, hopefully, champion causes that reflect our personal view of how things should be or those causes that satisfy our personal needs. Few of us vote for the greater good of our society. For those that vote for the greater good, you may be called a patriot. Wear the badge honorably.

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Why do we elect our president and vice-president in this manner? There were several problems that were addressed by our country’s founders. The first is a matter of trust — honesty, if you prefer. There were fears of “intrigue” if the president was chosen by a small group of men who met together regularly.

If Congress elected our president, the leader of the executive branch of our government would not be independent and would be beholden to the members of Congress that elected him.

The election by popular vote was out of the question because there were problems getting a consensus on that proposal given the prevalence of slavery in the southern states. The right of suffrage was much more widespread in the north than the southern states. The substitution of electors evaded this difficulty and seemed the least objectionable.

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In 2008, President Obama received 69,438,983 votes. In the recent election he received 60,652,238 votes, nearly nine million less than he received in ’08. His popularity has dwindled somewhat among voters.

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Don’t forget. The East River Town Band will be performing a patriotic performance to honor our veterans this afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Bluefield Performing Arts Center at Bluefield High School. Veterans: They have a special music program to honor you. Go and enjoy the concert.   

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Now that the election is over, we need to get back to work focusing on rebuilding our city. There are numerous issues that plague our town. We are tearing down more than we are building. The loss of Kroger on Cumberland Road was a blow to Bluefield in more ways than one. The revenue lost to the city was a deep cut. The jobs lost — I do not even need to address how that hurt.

What many have not considered is how the loss of Kroger also impacted other businesses. Yes, Kroger patrons still have to buy groceries somewhere. While some grocery stores enjoy the benefit of increased sales due Kroger leaving town, other business, particularly many that are located on Cumberland Road, have probably lost a significant amount of sales.

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There you have it, a few comments on items of interest to the area. Patriots vote, I hope that you voted. Have a blue sky day and remember our veterans.

Wilson Butt, a resident of Bluefield, is a retired Department of Highways official.