The Danger of the Attacks on the Electoral College
Confidence OR Self-Esteem?
Sherman County Court News of April 17th
Sherman County Court News of May 1st
1. The Danger of the Attacks on the Electoral College
Imprimus, Hillsdale College
June 2019 • Volume 48, Number 6 • Trent England
The following is adapted from a speech delivered on April 30, 2019, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C
Once upon a time, the Electoral College was not controversial. During the debates over ratifying the Constitution, Anti-Federalist opponents of ratification barely mentioned it. But by the mid-twentieth century, opponents of the Electoral College nearly convinced Congress to propose an amendment to scrap it. And today, more than a dozen states have joined in an attempt to hijack the Electoral College as a way to force a national popular vote for president.
What changed along the way? And does it matter? After all, the critics of the Electoral College simply want to elect the president the way we elect most other officials. Every state governor is chosen by a statewide popular vote. Why not a national popular vote for president?
Delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 asked themselves the same question, but then rejected a national popular vote along with several other possible modes of presidential election. The Virginia Plan—the first draft of what would become the new Constitution—called for “a National Executive . . . to be chosen by the National Legislature.” When the Constitutional Convention took up the issue for the first time, near the end of its first week of debate, Roger Sherman from Connecticut supported this parliamentary system of election, arguing that the national executive should be “absolutely dependent” on the legislature. Pennsylvania’s James Wilson, on the other hand, called for a popular election. Virginia’s George Mason thought a popular election “impracticable,” but hoped Wilson would “have time to digest it into his own form.” Another delegate suggested election by the Senate alone, and then the Convention adjourned for the day.
When they reconvened the next morning, Wilson had taken Mason’s advice. He presented a plan to create districts and hold popular elections to choose electors. Those electors would then vote for the executive—in other words, an electoral college. But with many details left out, and uncertainty remaining about the nature of the executive office, Wilson’s proposal was voted down. A week later, Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts proposed election by state governors. This too was voted down, and a consensus began to build. Delegates did not support the Virginia Plan’s parliamentary model because they understood that an executive selected by Congress would become subservient to Congress. A similar result, they came to see, could be expected from assigning the selection to any body of politicians.
There were other oddball proposals that sought to salvage congressional selection—for instance, to have congressmen draw lots to form a group that would then choose the executive in secret. But by July 25, it was clear to James Madison that the choice was down to two forms of popular election: “The option before us,” he said, “[is] between an appointment by Electors chosen by the people—and an immediate appointment by the people.” Madison said he preferred popular election, but he recognized two legitimate concerns. First, people would tend toward supporting candidates from their own states, giving an advantage to larger states. Second, a few areas with higher concentrations of voters might come to dominate. Madison spoke positively of the idea of an electoral college, finding that “there would be very little opportunity for cabal, or corruption” in such a system.
By August 31, the Constitution was nearly finished—except for the process of electing the president. The question was put to a committee comprised of one delegate from each of the eleven states present at the Convention. That committee, which included Madison, created the Electoral College as we know it today. They presented the plan on September 4, and it was adopted with minor changes. It is found in Article II, Section 1:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.
Federal officials were prohibited from being electors. Electors were required to cast two ballots, and were prohibited from casting both ballots for candidates from their own state. A deadlock for president would be decided by the House of Representatives, with one vote per state. Following that, in case of a deadlock for vice president, the Senate would decide. Also under the original system, the runner up became vice president.
This last provision caused misery for President John Adams in 1796, when his nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, became his vice president. Four years later it nearly robbed Jefferson of the presidency when his unscrupulous running mate, Aaron Burr, tried to parlay an accidental deadlock into his own election by the House. The Twelfth Amendment, ratified in 1804, fixed all this by requiring electors to cast separate votes for president and vice president.
And there things stand, constitutionally at least. State legislatures have used their power to direct the manner of choosing electors in various ways: appointing them directly, holding elections by district, or holding statewide elections. Today, 48 states choose their presidential electors in a statewide, winner-take-all vote. Maine and Nebraska elect one elector based on each congressional district’s vote and the remaining two based on the statewide vote.
It is easy for Americans to forget that when we vote for president, we are really voting for electors who have pledged to support the candidate we favor. Civics education is not what it used to be. Also, perhaps, the Electoral College is a victim of its own success. Most of the time, it shapes American politics in ways that are beneficial but hard to see. Its effects become news only when a candidate and his or her political party lose a hard-fought and narrowly decided election.
So what are the beneficial effects of choosing our presidents through the Electoral College?
Under the Electoral College system, presidential elections are decentralized, taking place in the states. Although some see this as a flaw—U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren opposes the Electoral College expressly because she wants to increase federal power over elections—this decentralization has proven to be of great value.
For one thing, state boundaries serve a function analogous to that of watertight compartments on an ocean liner. Disputes over mistakes or fraud are contained within individual states. Illinois can recount its votes, for instance, without triggering a nationwide recount. This was an important factor in America’s messiest presidential election—which was not in 2000, but in 1876.
That year marked the first time a presidential candidate won the electoral vote while losing the popular vote. It was a time of organized suppression of black voters in the South, and there were fierce disputes over vote totals in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Each of those states sent Congress two sets of electoral vote totals, one favoring Republican Rutherford Hayes and the other Democrat Samuel Tilden. Just two days before Inauguration Day, Congress finished counting the votes—which included determining which votes to count—and declared Hayes the winner. Democrats proclaimed this “the fraud of the century,” and there is no way to be certain today—nor was there probably a way to be certain at the time—which candidate actually won. At the very least, the Electoral College contained these disputes within individual states so that Congress could endeavor to sort it out. And it is arguable that the Electoral College prevented a fraudulent result.
Four years later, the 1880 presidential election demonstrated another benefit of the Electoral College system: it can act to amplify the results of a presidential election. The popular vote margin that year was less than 10,000 votes—about one-tenth of one percent—yet Republican James Garfield won a resounding electoral victory, with 214 electoral votes to Democrat Winfield Hancock’s 155. There was no question who won, let alone any need for a recount. More recently, in 1992, the Electoral College boosted the legitimacy of Democrat Bill Clinton, who won with only 43 percent of the popular vote but received over 68 percent of the electoral vote.
But there is no doubt that the greatest benefit of the Electoral College is the powerful incentive it creates against regionalism. Here, the presidential elections of 1888 and 1892 are most instructive. In 1888, incumbent Democratic President Grover Cleveland lost reelection despite receiving a popular vote plurality. He won this plurality because he won by very large margins in the overwhelmingly Democratic South. He won Texas alone by 146,461 votes, for instance, whereas his national popular vote margin was only 94,530. Altogether he won in six southern states with margins greater than 30 percent, while only tiny Vermont delivered a victory percentage of that size for Republican Benjamin Harrison… … …
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2. Confidence OR Self-Esteem?
Today, let’s talk about the difference between confidence and self-esteem. If you are not certain there is a difference, read on. If you are certain, read on!
Confidence and self-esteem are not the same thing. It is entirely possible to appear confident in front of others without having much in the way of self-esteem. Lots of people do it, and some of them are quite famous. You see, the confidence is just a front, a clever pose – an act. It is like a sample cake in the window of a bakery that is made of nothing but cardboard and icing. It looks solid, but if you cut into it, you find there is nothing of real substance inside.
People with a confident front but low self-esteem are plagued with self-doubt when they are alone. They know they are frauds and live in fear of being discovered. Often, they will turn to alcohol or drugs to help them maintain the illusion, or they will surround themselves with people whose only function is to make them look good.
On the other hand, when you have high self-esteem, genuine confidence just naturally follows. Nothing can make you insecure because your security comes from inside. You are not afraid to make a mistake because you believe in your overall competence, and you know that mistakes are simply another way to learn.
When your self-esteem is high, you can deal with every situation honestly, and you can express your true feelings, including fear, sadness and anger, without worrying about how you look to others. Confidence is a great feeling, but if it is the real thing you are after, you want to build it from the inside out. ~The Pacific Institute
3. Sherman County Court News of April 17th
Sherman County Court, April 17, 2019
By Kayla von Borstel 541-565-3416
2019-2020 County Assessment Function Funding Assistance (CAFFA) Grant Application, Racial and Ethnic Impact Statement, & Resolution, Quarterly Reports, Hoctor Property Request, Policy Advisor Proposal, Personnel/Complaints Executive Session, Oregon Youth Conservation Corps (OYCC) Storage Shed Replacement, Letter of Support, were the main items on the agenda during the April 17th session of Sherman County Court in Moro.
It was announced at the beginning of the meeting that we added the Intergovernmental Agreement for Construction of Broadband Network & Broadband Network Operating Agreement to the agenda after the session started at 9:58 a.m. on April 3, 2019 as it was received at this time.
Jenine McDermid, County Clerk, presented the Court with the 2019 – 2020 County Assessment Function Funding Assistance (CAFFA) Grant Application. She stated this application was submitted every year, and is based on anything that has to do with Assessment and Tax related budgets. The estimated totals for all Counties go into a pool, and the dollars available are then divided up, and awarded, to each County; only a small portion of the amount submitted comes back to each County. County Court motioned to approve the 2019-2020 County Assessment Function Funding Assistance (CAFFA) Program Grant Application, Racial and Ethnic Impact Statement, and Resolution in the amount of $575,531.00, and authorize Judge Dabulskis to sign.
Jenine McDermid, County Clerk, gave her quarterly report to the Court. On February 21, 2019 there was a BOPTA (Board Of Property Tax Appeal) hearing where one appeal was addressed; it was sustained. The 2019 Passport Acceptance Program certification was competed at the year-end; she attended a Clerks conference in February, and she is part of a committee that reads all the legislative bills to look for items that deal with recording, elections, or the Assessor’s Office. The Helion software system was running in the Clerk’s Office; public can enter their information into the Clerk’s public computer which would then be printed versus filling out forms by hand for items such as marriage licenses. The 2019 elections security plan had been submitted and approved by the Sectary of State’s office. Clerk Staff have been preparing for the May 21, 2019 Special District election. Jenine received notice that it was time for the annual insurance renewal process. Brief discussion held on internet security.
Wes Owens, Sherman County School District, presented a quarterly report. The School District was currently in the budget process and has two open School Board positions. The process changed from zones to positions as there have always been challenges trying to fill the spots based on zones. The School District has the opportunity to hire a qualified Mental Health Professional to have in-house, however, they do not have any candidates at this time. Owens thanked the County for their support in the scholarship program for graduates. Students and Staff are currently engaged in State Testing. The north playing field was still a work in progress; Owens thanked the City of Moro for their water agreements, due to permitting complications the school had with the existing well. He stated the field was anticipated to be ready for use by summer or fall of 2019. Fall 2019 would mark the fourth class in the Hall of Honor. The School District also has an opening for a 0.5 FTE Custodian currently. School signage has entered into its last phase to show passerby’s who they are (the school), gym signs for sports, etc. The Safety Plan for the School has been fully implemented. Due to a rough winter, the District needed to adjust the 2018-2019 school calendar, and adopted the 2019-2020 calendar for next year as well. An Instagram page exists for the School now in order to better communicate with public.
Marylou Martin, Sherman County Public Library, provided the Court with last year’s, and the current year’s budget, for review. The largest change was in the PERS column which increased from 21 to 26 percent. Funds were removed from the media column as there has been significant sharing of books between the school and library. Martin provided pictures to the Court of newest window leak two weeks prior; there are two more windows that need replaced, along with some outside caulking. She also provided pictures of activities/programs they have done: literacy night, book club, summer reading program, Harry Potter party, birds in black, mid-air winds concert, traveling lantern, community story time, art club, crafts and stacks, and movie nights.
Patti Fields, Sherman County Historical Museum, presented a quarterly report. She thanked Court for support of the Historical Society and Museum. At the visitors information station a sign in book is kept to note where visitors are from, and how they heard about the museum; the yearly goal is to have approximately 2,000 visitors. Many schools, organizations, and other museums attend the Museum for field trips every year. The Museum has been using the vacant JC Penny’s store front in The Dalles to promote visitors. Every year an exhibit is displayed during the Fair as well. Fields stated a fundraiser would be held on September 14, 2019. The Museum received two grants in the past year, one from Wasco Electric for $1,000 to paint the footbridge, and the second one from the Sherman County Development League for $12,500 to complete phase 1 of digitizing Sherman County Journals.
Larry Hoctor, Community Member, previously sold his property to the County with the agreement he could reside on the property for 180 days after closing to provide adequate time to find another place to live before vacating. He came to the Court seeking an extension until August 31, 2019, as he has not been able to find another living situation. He currently pays the liability insurance and utilities for the home. County Court motioned to allow Larry Hoctor to live on the property until August 31, 2019 rent free, providing that he continues to provide insurance, utilities, and other items as previously agreed upon.
Jessy Rose, Association of Oregon Counties, presented a Policy Advisor proposal to the Court. She stated the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) Coordinator position was a pilot program partnership with a federal grant; the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) and Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) agreed to manage the position. The goal was to figure out a way to continue these programs by finding additional funding after September with grants, or by having the Counties pick up the Policy Advisor position. The Policy Advisor position would be no cost to the County through September. She described a few areas where she could be involved; she currently does many of these items already informally, and the proposal would solidify the position. She asked that the Court consider her new services on a temporary basis, and if there was no longer a need for her after September, she would continue with the other Counties that have shown interest in keeping her long term. County Court motioned to enter into Executive Session in Accordance with ORS 192.660 (2) (b) Complaints, or in the alternative, 2 (i) Personnel. Entered Executive Session at 10:38 a.m.; discussion held on complaints/personnel.; Exited Executive Session at 10:58 a.m.; reconvened County Court at10:59 a.m. Brief discussion held on what the LPSCC Coordinator does in other Counties that isn’t done Sherman County. Amber DeGrange, Prevention/LPSCC Chair, and Wade McLeod, Assessor/LPSCC Member, were asked to speak with the Court regarding the LPSCC Coordinator position, and its elimination of services from Sherman County. DeGrange stated Rose’s services were to cease in Sherman County due to an incident that occurred. DeGrange reached out to LPSCC members asking if any member had a need for Rose’s services any longer; the response from the group was either no, or neutral but understanding. This information was passed onto AOC who made the final decision. DeGrange reiterated she did not actively seek out members to have Rose’s position taken away, she took action as a Chair to gather information based on an incident that required action and accountability to be passed onto AOC; AOC took action based off the group recommendation.
Amy Asher, Prevention/Outreach, spoke with the Court on the potential move of the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps (OYCC) tool shed. The shed is in poor condition and needs to be replaced, as well as it was suggested to Asher to relocate the shed due to some expansion at the current location. Brief discussion held on a new possible spot at the fairgrounds, however, it is uncertain if the area is County property or if it belonged to the fairgrounds. There is $30,000 in her budget that needed to be used by the end of the fiscal year; replacing the shed could use a small portion of those funds for a 10×12 building. She would like something with a floor to be less open and more secure from the environment. County Court motioned to authorize Amy Asher to build an Oregon Youth Conservation Corps (OYCC) storage shed, and to work with Judge Dabulskis to find a location. The Alcohol and Drug Prevention Education grant funds used to be housed under Mental Health, and the funds cycled through Mid-Columbia Center for Living, and then passed onto the County. When the funds moved over to Chronic Diseases, it went to a reimbursement basis to the State before money would be passed to Center for Living, which caused challenges as there has been shortages in payments. Asher requested to move the contract from Center for Living to Sherman County to avoid further challenges. If the letter of support was not submitted to Oregon Health Authority for this change, they will have to contract with Center for Living for the next two years. County Court motioned to approve the letter to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) notifying them to move the Prevention Education Grant from Center for Living to Sherman County, and authorize the County Court to sign.
Actions taken by the Court included:
- appointed Gary Thompson to the North Central Public Health District Budget Committee as an Alternate.
- approved the Sherman County Investment Policy (revised October 2016) as presented, and authorized County Court to sign.
- approved the Regional Infrastructure Fund Grant Agreement for the Sherman Cities Broadband Initiative, between Sherman County and the State of Oregon, acting by and through Oregon Business Development Department, in the amount of $200,000, and authorized County Court and Debbie Hayden, Financial Officer, to sign.
- to approved Resolution No. 01-04-2019, In the Matter of the County Court Approving the Regional Infrastructure Fund Grant Agreement for the Sherman Cities Broadband Initiative to provide reliable, robust, and affordable broadband service as critical infrastructure for community and economic development as well as access to education, workforce training, health care, public safety, and other services in rural communities, and authorized County Court to sign.
- approved the Sherman Cities Broadband Payments to GorgeNet in the amount of $41,714.40 for the City of Grass Valley, and $39,169.20 for the City of Wasco, for Fiber to the Home installation services.
- approved retired Gilliam County Judge Steven Shaffer, to serve as Sherman County Pro Tem Judge on May 18, 2019 and August 24, 2019 for the purpose of performing marriage ceremonies, and authorized Judge Dabulskis to sign.
- approved the Oregon Audits Division 2018 Plan of Action as proposed, and authorized County Court to sign.
- declared the 2000 Ford E450 Bus as surplus as recommended by the County with a minimum bid of $2,000 and the 2008 Jeep Patriot as surplus as recommended by the Assessor’s Office with a minimum bid of $2,000.
- County Court Data/Cell Phone Stipend Request – Discussed – No action taken at this time.
- approved the Revenue/Expenditure Summary for the month of March 2019, as presented.
- approved the Treasurer’s Report for the month of March 2019, as presented.
Topics of discussion were Written Quarterly Reports, and Commissioner Reports.
4. Sherman County Court News of May 1st
May 1, 2019
By Kayla von Borstel 541-565-3416
Housing Analysis and Hearing Appeal Process were the main items on the agenda during the May 1st session of Sherman County Court in Moro.
Dan Meader, Consultant, spoke with the Court on the Grass Valley Housing Needs Analysis, and about the next project in line. The analysis for Grass Valley went well, and he is already seeing some action as a result; there are two to three inquiries on additional housing. County Court had indicated they would like an analysis completed on the remaining three Cities. Meader suggested completing the Cities individually as opposed to a lumped project. He explained he was over his $2,000 budget for Grass Valley as graphics, meetings and general cost raised the overall price. City of Wasco would be the next proposed project, and is much larger than the rest, therefore the cost would be higher. This would be a beneficial update as the last analysis was completed in 2007. In these analysis’ he compares populations with current zoning, and lists out what could be done if zoning was changed away from Residential Ag. Residential Ag allows for residential or agriculture implementation as defined. Currently there are approximately 135 acres of Residential Ag; if this was divided into 5 acre parcels it would total 27. Meader explained Grass Valley would need more than 27 houses. The County cannot justify an urban growth boundary amendment until the population projections outnumber the land available, which it does not. His proposal to complete the City if Wasco Housing Needs Analysis would be no more than $7,500. Brief discussion was held on getting streets named properly on mapping. County Court motioned to hire Meader Meader to complete a Housing Analysis on the City of Wasco for no more than $7,500.
Dan Meader, who was assisting the Planning Department/Commission, with the Mass Gathering Appeal, went over the standard procedures from the Planning Commission and of the Hearing Appeal Process with the Court. First the Judge would open the hearing, explain the rules, and qualify the decision makers (County Court). Next would be the staff report from Meader and/or Georgia Macnab, Planning Commission, followed by the right to speak by the Applicants/Proponents, ending with the Opponents (Planning Commission) who would speak explaining why the request for the festival was denied. The Court was reminded to weigh evidence submitted during the Hearing, but could use own prior knowledge of the situation as well, as this would be a Quasi – Judicial Hearing. Meader explained the Judge does most of the talking, and the Judge will state his name, title, that it was an Appeal Hearing, and continue to read the rest of the first paragraph. Meader also stated the second paragraph, and the paragraph that states “failure to provide testimony,” are very important to read aloud, and should not be skipped. After this the decision makers must disclose if they had a conflict of interest, had any relatives who would make money from the situation, if they had a vested interest in voting yes or no, or if there had been any ex-parte contact. County Court was also reminded they did not have to make a decision during the Hearing; deliberation could be continued at a later date, however, the Court must state a date and time of the deliberation and decision making as it all must be on record. If someone involved in the Hearing left the room, the Court cannot make a final decision. Georgia will provide the Court with the Staff Report, and all of the submitted plans to the Court prior to the Hearing.
Recessed Court Session: 10:02 a.m.
Reconvened Court Session: 10:07 a.m.
Actions taken by the Court included:
- approved the Sherman County Broadband Fiber Project RS1607, Amendment 1, between Sherman County and Oregon Business Development Department, to extend the timeframe of the Sherman County Broadband Fiber project from April 30, 2019 to December 31, 2019, and authorized Judge Dabulskis to sign.
- approved a minimum bid of $3,500 for the previously surplused Drivers Education 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser, and a minimum bid of $10,000 for the previously surplused Sheriff’s Department 2014 Dodge Charger.
- approved Oregon Department of Transportation Grant Agreement No. 32211, Amendment Number 2, between the State of Oregon and Sherman County, to extend the Grant Agreement period and grant balance through December 31, 2019.
- approved minutes of April 3, 2019, as corrected.
- approved minutes of April 4, 2019 Work Session, as presented.
- approved minutes of April 19, 2019 Work Session, as presented.
- approved minutes of April 24, 2019 Special Session, as presented.
- approved the Claims for the month of April 2019, as presented.
Topics of discussion were Ambulance on County Property, Written Quarterly Report, 2019-2021 STIF Application, RV Park Policies, Finnegan Road Bridge Replacement, and Commissioner Reports.