Saturday, December 25, 2004

Sen. Feinstein to propose an end to Electoral College

Looks like we have another Senator in our corner:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday that when Congress returns in January, she will propose a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College and replace it with a one-person, one-vote system for electing the nation's president and vice president.
"The Electoral College is an anachronism, and the time has come to bring our democracy into the 21st century," Feinstein said in a statement. "During the founding years of the republic, the Electoral College may have been a suitable system, but today it is flawed and amounts to national elections being decided in several battleground states.''

Despite some popular appeal, the proposal faces a difficult road to passage. It takes a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress followed by ratification by 38 states for a constitutional amendment to become law.

Feinstein's staff pointed out Wednesday that 25 years ago, the Senate voted 51-48 for a proposal to abolish the Electoral College, a majority but still far short of the two-thirds required. About 10 years before that, the House voted 338-70 for abolishment, but the Senate didn't act that year.

Feinstein, who has the support of Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-Rhode Island, as a co-sponsor, said the Electoral College, which awards each state and the District of Columbia a minimum of three votes, is unfair to states such as California because it takes far more popular votes to win even one of California's 55 electoral votes than, for instance, to win one of the three in a sparsely populated state such as North Dakota. Most states award their electoral votes in a winner-take-all fashion, although Nebraska, with five, and Maine, with four, have a proportional system for allocating their electoral votes.
Electoral College supporters say the current system for electing a president guarantees small states a voice in the campaign. They argue it is consistent with the intent of the Founding Fathers, who created a republic in which voters delegate powers to elected representatives, and not a direct democracy.

They also say that even without the college, candidates of the two major parties will still focus their efforts where their parties are strongest and that the proposed system would lead to more third parties, which could splinter the vote.

I don't see why "the proposed system would lead to more third parties," is a problem; seems to me the current two-party system isn't a spectacular success. If this makes it to the floor for a vote, we need to write to our representatives to make sure they support ending the out-dated Electoral College.


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