Archive for Friday, November 15, 1996


November 15, 1996


A Lawrence Republican will cast one of Kansas' six votes in the Electoral College.

You might have thought you were voting for Bob Dole on Nov. 5.

But if you filled in the box next to the Kansas Republican's name on the ballot, in reality your vote was cast for Lawrence resident John Watkins -- and five other lesser-known Republicans.

Watkins and the others were elected earlier this year by the Kansas Republican Party's state committee as the party's presidential electors.

Because Dole won the popular vote in Kansas, all six Republican electors will participate in the actual presidential election, which takes place Dec. 16.

At that time, the 538-member Electoral College will gather at state capitols to cast their votes for president.

"Bob Dole has not lost yet," Watkins said Thursday. However, President Clinton who won the popular vote in 31 states, will send 379 electors to vote for him. Dole won 19 states with 159 electoral votes.

Watkins, a 45-year-old Lawrence businessman, is GOP chairman for the 3rd Congressional District. The district includes eastern Douglas County and all of Johnson, Wyandotte and Miami counties.

Kansas' other electors are Betty M. Hanicke, Westwood; Marjorie Robards, Topeka; State Sen. Michael Harris, Wichita; Marynell Dyatt Reece, Scandia, and Timothy Golba, Olathe.

Watkins said he was "thrilled" to be part of the Electoral College process.

"This is a privilege. I get to represent the state, or at least a portion of it. And I get to vote for our favorite son," he said. "It's an honor and I really appreciate it."

The Electoral College was established by the founding fathers as a compromise between election of the president by Congress and election by popular vote.

Electoral votes are recorded by the office of the Federal Register in the National Archives and Record Administration.

No constitutional provision or federal law requires electors to vote in accordance with the popular vote in their state.

"I'm not legally obligated (to vote for Dole), but I'm morally obligated and I take that obligation seriously," Watkins said.

Watkins is a strong advocate of the Electoral College system.

"If it ain't broke, let's not fix it," he said. "Keep in mind, we were established as a republic. A republic relies on representation of the people. When you have such a system, it allows people to deliberate calmly, without a rush."

He said direct election of the president would be "mob rule."

"Unlimited democracy is the same as mob rule," he said. "We live in a limited democracy under a republican form of government. It's that form of government that limits the mob impulse."

Some people have called for eliminating the Electoral College, he said.

"There are going to be those people who say the people should rule directly and immediately," he said. "That's the same argument lynch mobs use in the heat of the moment, and that's why we have courts that are run by law."

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