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Electoral college

Dear Editor:
If you’re one of my neighbors who voted for Mitt Romney, sorry about that. Your vote didn’t count. Your frustration is shared by my sister-in-law, a fervent Obama supporter in Tennessee who also had her presidential vote trashed.
Looking at the TV network maps on election night, you would think we were two nations, blue on the coasts and red down the center and across most of the south. But if the map truly represented the popular vote, we would see shades of magenta, which would much better reflect the reality.
The electoral college is a constitutional artifact, a reminder that many of our founding fathers, having just freed themselves from an authoritarian central government, had a lingering mistrust of another. This was enhanced by the diversity between the existing original states. But more than 200 years later, is it still appropriate?
On election night and the following morning, it would seem that our choice for President was decided by the fact that Obama’s organization in Ohio was far superior to Romney’s. And whether you are pleased or disappointed by the result, the process could possibly have disenfranchised the majority. In 2000, it could be said that George W. Bush won by one vote – on the Supreme Court.
It would take a Constitutional Amendment to change this, but that won’t be an easy achievement. Many leaders of both parties are well satisfied with the status quo. IT allows them to concentrate their efforts and money on a few “in play” states, those where the political strengths are close to equal. The downside is that the issues that get the greatest emphasis become those of the greatest importance in those states. States that are taken for granted are the losers even if they support the winner. And the temptation for corrupting the vote also increases, either by largesse or by more direct interference such as was tried in several states under the guise of “eligibility verification.”
So while we are repeatedly told that every vote counts, not every vote is counted, and those in the minority in many states could be tempted to say, “Why bother?” We celebrate our right to vote constantly, but exercise that right in lower percentages than many other democracies.
Abolishing the electoral college would go a long way toward emphasizing the word “united” in United States. But don’t expect it to happen without a groundswell of public opinion demanding the change.
David Mathews
Downey

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Published: November 15, 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 31



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