Keep the Electoral College

Whether in its present form, or modified, we still need it.

In response to “The Electoral College is lame” (editorial, Sept. 15): I live in New York. I have voted for every Republican presidential candidate since my first regrettable and long-lamented vote for former President Jimmy Carter in 1976. Former President Ronald Reagan carried New York twice. Since then, it’s been all Democrats. Michael Dukakis carried New York. I’ll repeat that, as Lewis Black would say. Michael Dukakis carried New York.

Then Democratic candidate former Vice President Al Gore won New York by 1,767,533 votes. Even if I voted twice for every dead person in my election district, I don’t think I could make a dent in that total.

So my vote doesn’t count.

Don’t tell me about Florida. We don’t have a large population of misguided, senile citizens who can’t figure out the difference between Pat Buchanan and Gore on a ballot. Our misguided citizens meant to vote for Gore. They don’t have senility to blame. Our misguided citizens were purposeful, and their numbers are overwhelming.

Why am I, a Republican-red-minded person in this Democratic-blue, blue state content with my vote not counting? Because I have seen Florida. And Chicago. And Texas. And Long Beach, Long Island. And Brooklyn, New York. Areas where ballot stuffing, dead voters voting and forged absentee ballots are accepted. Areas where one-party rule means a lack of poll watchers and rampant fraud.

Business Week Online ran an article this month on the Electoral College, and the proposal in Colorado to apportion its Electoral College votes in proportion to the votes each candidate receives within that state (currently Nebraska and Maine have similar systems in place). There is a discussion about taking this system nationwide.

So, for instance, instead of Gore getting all of New York state’s 33 electoral votes, he would have received 21, and President George W. Bush would have received 12. The article doesn’t say whether any past elections would have changed – my gut says probably not.

Whether in its present form, or slightly modified, we still need the Electoral College (notwithstanding Democratic New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s sore loser whining). If we didn’t have it, our presidential elections would be a free-for-all. When we’d finish the tallies, the number of votes would approach a billion.

At least now, if Illinois can’t, or won’t, control the Chicago machine, it only affects their electoral votes. If we were voting directly for the president, I would have to care, a la Nixon and Kennedy, if Cook County voted 28 million to 3 for Kerry. The federal government would be forced to take over the implementation of elections, with all that means.

By the way, as a quick aside – Gore did win the national popular vote by 500,000 votes, but so what? If the rules were to win the popular vote, I suspect Bush would have put some effort into New York and other blue states – who knows what would have happened? Looking at the popular vote in a presidential campaign is like looking at total yards gained in a football game, instead of the score. Interesting, but meaningless.

Issues of fraud and management aside, the truly tragic thing that would happen if we got rid of the Electoral College is that I would have to watch a lot more political ads.

Now, I like political ads, especially if they are clever and/or nasty, and I look for them on the basic cable news channels. But since the New York market is so expensive, and there is so little to contest here, I can usually watch entertainment without political bombardment. I mean, catching an ad or two during Paula Zahn’s show, or “Hannity & Colmes,” is fine. I just don’t want to see Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s happy, effervescent, life-affirming mug during “Two and a Half Men.”

Nobody deserves that.

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