Archive for Monday, November 20, 2000

Electors have mixed outlook on College

November 20, 2000

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More than a third of this year's Democratic presidential electors say they want to re-examine or scrap the Electoral College that takes the final vote on the next person in the White House, while fewer than 1 in 10 Republicans think the nation should even consider tinkering with the system, an AP survey found.

The partisan breakdown is not surprising, given that the Democratic candidate, Al Gore, may lose the presidency while winning the popular vote. Republican George W. Bush, if declared the victor in Florida, would win the crucial electoral vote.

Don Simmons, owner of Simmons Brothers Construction in Medina,
Ohio, is a Republican member of the Electoral College in the state
of Ohio. Simmons favors keeping the Electoral College system,
without which, "You'd never see a presidential candidate in Wyoming
or Utah."

Don Simmons, owner of Simmons Brothers Construction in Medina, Ohio, is a Republican member of the Electoral College in the state of Ohio. Simmons favors keeping the Electoral College system, without which, "You'd never see a presidential candidate in Wyoming or Utah."

The Associated Press interviewed 342 electors, or nearly two-thirds of the 538-member Electoral College.

"It's silly," said Gore elector Lana Boldi, a political coordinator for United Auto Workers in Michigan. "We're 200 years or more past when we really need that safeguard. I think the average voter is intelligent enough to cast a popular vote."

"It's a well thought-out system. I believe it's just as valid today as it's ever been," said Bush elector W.R. Timken Jr. of Ohio, a manufacturing executive who was also an elector for Bush's father in 1988. "If it was pure popular vote, the election would be all about the biggest cities and biggest states, and the rest of the country would be forgotten."

"We do not live in a democracy. It's a representative republic," said South Carolina elector Danny Faulkner, a college physics professor.

One thing for sure there are no swing voters here.

The presidential campaign was defined by the undecided political center. This post-election campaign is in the land of the partisan patriot, the unswerving.

Electors of both parties scoffed at even the notion of breaking their pledge to their candidate. Some Democrats, including nine Democratic electors, suggested Republicans should switch to Gore in light of allegations of voter irregularities in Florida. Not one Republican said they would consider it.

"Not if you had a gun to my head," said Marcy Benson, a Colorado elector for Bush. The idea of switching gets the same response from Gore electors: "Not unless I was psychotic," said Sala Udin of Pennsylvania.

Partisan passions are expected electors get picked by their respective parties. Voters at the polls, though the ballot said Bush or Gore, were actually voting for slates of electors pledged to those candidates. The electors who win vote Dec. 18.

Usually, few notice the Electoral College where states get one vote for each congressional district and each senator. Big states have more votes, small states fewer. Every year, a few electors and political scientists complain that it's outdated, but the new president wins so decisively that arguments are beside the point.

The system gives smaller states a slightly bigger voice even sparsely populated Alaska gets the minimum of three electoral votes and it negates wide popular-vote majorities.

This time, though vote counts are still being fought in court, the popular-vote winner may not be the electoral vote winner. It's happened twice before in 1876 and 1888.

Electors from small states particularly cling fast to the college.

"Without the electoral college, there's no need for the Heartland to vote," said Doug Wavle, a South Carolina elector for Bush. "You'd just have people in California, Florida and New York City vote."

"You'd never see a presidential candidate in Wyoming or Utah," said Don Simmons, an Ohio elector for Bush.

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