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Letter: It’s time to eliminate the Electoral College

It’s time to eliminate the Electoral College

Many voters, unhappy with the two major parties or their candidates, turn to third parties, seeing the dominance of the two major parties as evidence of a “rigged” system. But two-party dominance may have developed naturally in response to the presidential election framework established by the framers of the Constitution and may produce the most democratic outcomes in presidential elections.

A multiparty system could result (and has resulted) in undemocratic outcomes and increased turmoil in the election process.

Example 1: The eventual winner accumulates enough electoral votes (270) but not a majority of the popular vote (e.g., Bill Clinton in 1992 with 43 percent of the popular vote) thus becoming a “minority” president. This is decidedly undemocratic. In addition, the winner lacks a mandate to govern effectively.

Example 2: No candidate receives 270 electoral votes. The election reverts to Congress, where the ultimate selection is made by the House of Representatives with each state having one vote. Thus Wyoming (population 564,000) has as much say as California (population 39 million.) This is extremely undemocratic. (This actually happened. In 1825, John Quincy Adams was elected president with fewer popular and electoral votes than Andrew Jackson. George W. Bush versus Al Gore came close, thanks to Ralph Nader.)

The system is not rigged, but the system is certainly faulty, and casting a meaningless third-party vote may only result in an undemocratic outcome. To make third-party votes matter, the system needs to be changed. Eliminate the Electoral College and have a runoff election for the top two vote-getters, whatever their party affiliation.

Michael Volpe

North Tonawanda

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