it is essential to disband the Electoral College
Edward Bair, COLUMNIST
What a circus this election has turned into. Because
of our skewed Electoral College system, the race for president has been
reduced to a little over a thousand votes difference in several counties
of Florida. Nationally, the race is close, but with 99 percent of precincts
reporting, Gore is in the lead by almost 200,000 votes. If we were electing
based on popular vote, Al Gore would have already been appointed as the
next presidential nominee. The last and only time a candidate won the
popular vote but lost in the Electoral College was Hayes vs. Tilden in
The controversy regarding what is happening in Florida
is embarrassing and adds needless negative publicity to a presidential
race that is already thought by many to be the choice between the least
worst candidate. Now we may have to sit and wait another week before a
winner is declared. It's wrong to have a national race centered on one
state and not even the entire state at that, but rather a few counties
in that state.
In the 18th century, when the Framers of the Constitution
established the Electoral College, travel was difficult and there were
no national party organizations, therefore an Electoral College was needed
to obtain a proper national consensus. It also prevented regional candidates
from dividing the vote. Now, we no longer need a group of representatives
to elect the president. The Electoral College system gives uneven sway
to certain states. For instance, California's population accounts for
11 percent of the total US population, yet its 54 electoral votes account
for 20 percent of the nation's electoral votes. Also, the "winner takes
all" electoral system present in 48 states, makes it exceptionally difficult
for a third party to win a state's electoral votes. Therefore, there is
no room for the emergence of a third party, something that many people
believe is needed in the American political landscape. Lastly, the Electoral
College makes it possible for a candidate to win the election without
the majority of the national vote as Bill Clinton did in 1992 and 1996.
America needs a system where the president is determined
by popular vote and the results of the vote are not released until a winner
is declared. We do have the means to quickly and efficiently tabulate
votes in a secure manner. Networks like CNN and FOX only create mayhem
in the voting process by prematurely declaring winners with as little
as 60 percent of the voting stations reporting results. These results
can influence voters on the West Coast who have not yet cast their ballots.
From the proceedings of Tuesday night, we know that their results are
wrong many times.
The United States is constantly criticizing other nations
like China for their election processes, but how can we take a stance
on other nations elections when we can barely manage our own. Our national
integrity is at stake. Other nations are questioning American democracy's
legitimacy. One British tabloid ran the headline, "Forest Chumps" with
a picture of Al Gore and George W. Bush sitting on a park bench. Above
the headline it reads, "US Humiliated in Presidential Shambles."
After this fiasco, whoever emerges as the winner is
not going to have a mandate to do much of anything. What kind of power
is a president going to have who has been elected possibly by accident?
What about a president who is elected by court order? This race has been
characterized by apathy among the voting public and party disassociation.
I only hope that we can end this quarrel swiftly.