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March 27, 2006
Say, wha?

An End Run Around the Constitution

The question of how we elect a president is up for debate again, with advocates of a majoritarian philosophy having invented a new device for moving to a direct popular vote for the chief executive.

Here we go again.

The reasons they give for making the change include the fact that in 2000 the electoral college system -- which gives all of a state's electoral votes to the winner of its popular vote, no matter how small the margin -- made George Bush a winner despite Al Gore's gaining more popular votes nationally, an offense to those who want majority rule.

It happens. None of us like it and it doesn't happen that often, but it happens. No system is perfect.

The sponsors also have noticed that presidential campaigns target battleground states while ignoring others in their advertising and campaign schedules. Thus Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin get more attention than New York or Texas. And since the number of battleground states has been shrinking, they say, more and more of the country is shut out of participation in the campaign.

So, they argue, let's move to a system in which all votes count equally, because that will force the candidates to campaign and advertise everywhere.

Not so much, no. Anyone expect North Dakota or Wyoming to be hotspots for campaigns? Anyone think the charms of Oregon will outweigh the sheer mass of voters in Florida? (To Broder's credit, he does say this.)

Instead, the advocates propose that states with sufficient electoral votes -- 270 of the 538 -- to constitute an electoral majority enter into an interstate compact, pledging to give their votes to the candidate receiving the largest number of popular votes. That action could allow the legislatures of as few as 11 states to change the whole system of electing a president.

Basically, 11 states are going to get together and agree to ignore the voters in their own states so they can bypass the constitution.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:41 PM


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