Is this a wake-up call?

Posted: Wednesday, November 08, 2000

It's time to dismantle the Electoral College, as yesterday's national election clearly demonstrates.

There are strong signs telling us how the election is likely to turn out, but we don't want to make the mistakes the TV networks did early Tuesday night when they prematurely awarded Florida's electoral votes to Al Gore and early today when they prematurely declared George W. Bush the winner. At this writing, it appears Bush has the edge.

By Thursday evening we should know who won the popular vote, who won the Electoral College vote and who is headed to the White House.

If Gore edges Bush in the national popular vote but loses the Electoral College as appears likely at this writing the nation has had its wake-up call. The Electoral College is an anachronism, something that might have made sense in the late 1700s or early 1800s when the small states did not want to be steamrolled by the larger states. Then the Electoral College was an equalizer.

But then and now the Electoral College goes against the American ideals that all men and women are created equal and that every vote should count exactly as much as every other vote.

The Electoral College is a contrivance that can deny voter equality, thwart democracy and deliver runners-up to the Oval Office.

We say that yesterday, today and tomorrow until the Electoral College is scrapped and regardless of whether the beneficiary-victim relationship is Democrat-GOP, GOP-Democrat or involves some third party.

We do not call upon this year's electors to rebel in favor of the popular vote. They should respect the rules in place at this time. But we should change the rules without further delay.

If Bush loses the popular vote but wins the White House, the new president's legacy already is being written. He will be tainted as the loser who won. Is that fair? No, his legacy should be based on merit, where he takes the nation in the next four (or eight) years. But the sense of unfairness experienced by Bush will be minuscule compared to that experienced by Gore.

It is wrong for the nation to endure the division that accompanies an Electoral College victory for a runner-up presidential vote-getter.

Dismantle the Electoral College.

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