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America needs Electoral College

Letter to the Editor | Monday, April 21, 2008

To bash the Electoral College … to suggest that the “Electoral College needs to go” (Maggie O’Connor, Apr. 17) because it is outdated and discourages voting in non-swing states is both poor political scholarship and irresponsible civics. To believe that the Electoral College was set up because the Founding Fathers did not trust citizens to make an informed decision is to recognize only half of the issue – and the unimportant half at that.In the Federalist Papers No. 39, James Madison clearly indicated that it was a system set up so that both the people and the states could be taken into account for the election of the President. This is why the numbers of the Electoral College reflect the numbers of both the Senate and the House of Representatives combined, giving two Electoral College votes to all states regardless of population. The states do deserve some amount of say in electing the President just as they deserve a say in law-making. After all, we are talking about the President of the United States, not necessarily the President of the United People.To say that the Electoral College is outdated is to be unaware of the trends of wide-scale government. If the Electoral College were indeed outdated then the European Union probably would not have adopted a similar system to determine the number of delegates each country would receive in the European Parliament. The European Union gives countries themselves a disproportionately higher amount of delegates so that the smaller countries could not be dominated by the larger countries, just as we would not want the 15 most populous states (well over 50 percent of the U.S. population) to dominate the “lesser” 35 states. Specifically, 80 million people – roughly 25 percent of the population of the United States – live in the 15 most populous cities in the United States. Considering that at most around 50 percent of citizens vote in each election, this would give enormous power to such cities and thus encourage candidates to focus most of their campaign efforts and platform promises on 15 congested areas in the United States. If you were worried about the battle not being fought in a “swing” state or small states such as Wyoming or the Dakotas under the system of the Electoral College, then you should probably be more worried under direct elections.Finally, to worry that your vote does not count because you are a Republican in California or a Democrat in Texas is irresponsible citizenry to begin with. This is the same folly voters make when they choose to vote for a candidate they only half-agree with but who has an actual chance of winning, over a candidate they completely agree with but has a long-shot of winning. Voting is not about winning; voting is about expressing your opinion. When you vote for a third party candidate you probably won’t win, but at least you have told the two bigger parties that the platforms of the third parties are relevant and important and that if they want your vote too, they will have to incorporate the third party platforms into their own platform in the next election. The same applies to a Democrat voting in Georgia or a Republican voting in New York: You probably will not win the election but your opinion is nevertheless expressed – an opinion which will not go unnoticed by the competitive world of politics – and you will likely win in the end.

Jonathan ToupsjuniorStanford HallApr. 17