Vote is increasingly out of voters’ hands

PLEO — do you know what this acronym stands for?

You’ve heard them mentioned a lot lately by the political speculators. They’re also known as “superdelegates” but that’s not what the Democratic party calls them. They are actually “Party Leaders and Elected Officials” who are not pledged to any candidate.

There are other PLEOs who are allocated, but they are pledged to candidates based on the results of primaries and caucuses.

Currently, there is some question about whether these unpledged “superdelegates” could really decide, in a close race, who will be the candidate.

We voters believe, of course, that we should decide. But when it came to Al Gore and George Bush, it was the Supreme Court that decided — even though Gore had won a plurality of the popular vote.

Today, it seems like the leaders of the Democratic Party could decide who will be the presidential (and vice presidential) candidates. After all, in addition to the unpledged delegates, there’s Howard Dean making decisions about the votes in Florida and Michigan.
Will the next president be our president? Or their president?

Oh, we can dream of we, the people, actually nominating our president. But we can do that only indirectly in a case like this — just as we indirectly elect our president and vice president.

Because actually we aren’t voting for the candidate of our choice; we are voting for “electors” who have informally pledged themselves to particular candidates. We may think we have elected our president on Election Day but the process takes a bit longer than that.
It isn’t until the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December, 41 days after Election Day, that the electors meet in their respective states (and the District of Columbia) and cast their votes. Then a signed document called the Certificate of Vote is sent by certified mail to somewhere in Washington, D.C. where it joins the other Certificates of Votes and is presumably counted.

It isn’t until a month later that Congress meets in joint session to declare the winner of the Election in which we thought we had picked the winner and the presiding officer of Congress (usually the vice president) is able to declare that the presidential hopeful who has survived the nominations and the election is now, actually, the President-elect.

If you want to know more about our presidential elections, because this article simplifies things, go to Article II, Section I, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution and the Twelfth Amendment, which required that each elector vote separately for president and vice president.
Here are some actual words from Article II:

The electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom at least one shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a list of the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify and transmit sealed to the seat of Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall be counted ….

Oh, there’s lots more — and it’s worth reading. Even if you aren’t a member of the Supreme Court.

Chelle Delaney is associate publisher of the Quay County Sun. she can be reached by emailing or calling 461-1952.