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Voters shatter business as usual in U.S. politics Electoral College exists for reasons valid today

Posted: Thursday, November 16, 2000

If he has any sensitivity at all, whoever ends up sitting in the White House for the next four years is going to be haunted by the nagging feeling that he doesn't really belong there.

And that is fine. That means our next president will have to spend much of his time and energy proving to the American people he understands what our republic means and that he deserves the trust and respect of the American people.

The professional ruling class in Washington is in a daze. They have watched their private little club shatter into a million pieces, blown apart by voters with the awesome -- but too often unrealized -- power of the ballot box.

This is a rare opportunity for Americans to take stock of what is theirs and what they have been in danger of losing. This is still supposed to be a government ''of, by and for'' the people, but we have left too much power accumulate into the hands of too few people. Politics, designed to be merely the way get things done, has become an end in itself.

If citizens take advantage of that opportunity, we might truly see the bright future both candidates promised. And if the White House occupant sees it happening, and understands it, then we will know he deserves to be there.

-- The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Nov. 14

Electoral College exists for reasons valid today

Many Americans are only now beginning to understand the Electoral College, originally installed in the Constitution as a means to avoid direct election by the people, whom the Founding Fathers in 1787 felt were too easily swayed by the ''passions'' of the moment.

So 213 years later, the ''people'' are much more sophisticated and capable of directly electing their leaders, right? The Electoral College is therefore an unnecessary anachronism. Right?

Well, not so fast. Although changes in the Electoral College system have been considered hundreds of times in the past by Congress, it has never been substantially changed. Maybe, as this closest-in-history election plays out in Florida, for good reason.

Consider where the nation would be right now, a week after the Nov. 7 election, if the president and vice president were chosen by popular vote. At the latest check, Texas Gov. George Bush trailed vice president Al Gore in the popular vote by only 200,000 votes or so out of nearly 100 million votes counted so far. In such a close race, we might not have a choice but to have recounts in all 50 states. If only the popular vote counted, then it would make no difference where a candidate picked up a vote. ...

While the Electoral College was originally devised by men who distrusted the populism involved in an election, it still serves a purpose. It is not all bad, as thoughtful voters all over the country are seeing.

-- The Tulsa (Okla.) World

Nov. 14

Nov. 10

The Advertiser-Tribune, Tiffin, Ohio, on asking for a new vote:

The people in Florida who want a second round of voting for president in parts of the state can't be considering the consequences of such an occurrence.

Once the courts started granting such a ''revote,'' where would they stop?

Some Palm Beach County voters suspect that they voted for Pat Buchanan by mistake while trying to vote for Al Gore. But they left the polling places without asking for help from voting officials and without raising a fuss.

All the recounting of votes that is believed needed to get an accurate total should be done. But no matter whether Al Gore or George Bush ends up winning the Florida vote, the voting of Nov. 7 should stand.

If any sort of ''revote'' were allowed, other people who voted in the first election could complain that their electoral rights were being compromised. The lawsuits and countersuits would never end.

Nov. 13

The Boston Globe, on the uncomfortable truth about elections:

The scrutiny being applied to the 2000 presidential vote reveals an uncomfortable truth about American elections known to anyone who has ever volunteered as a poll worker in a campaign. Every year, in every county, elections are held that are fraught with error, confusion, jammed machines, lost or discarded ballots and disenfranchised voters.

The spotlight threatens to cause a contagion of recounts. Secretary of State William Galvin ordered a re-count in all Boston precincts last week, concerned that thousands of votes on the eight ballot questions may have been ignored. In New Mexico, a partial recount of the presidential vote is under way, and supporters of both Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore are keeping an eye on Iowa, where any recount request must be made by Thursday. ...

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