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Electoral College is hardly necessary

To the Editor: The Electoral College is Hardly “Necessary” to Democracy.

The history that Weiland Ross offers in “The Electoral College protects democracy” (4/2) ignores the role that slavery played in the origins of the Electoral College.

Under the Electoral College system, a fraction of a state’s slave population was taken into account in determining how many representatives the slave states would have in Congress, increasing the number of electoral votes they could cast. Since slaves could not vote, choosing the president by popular vote have given slave states far less power. It is very unlikely that, as noted in Magdalena Usategui’s recent commentary on the same subject, “A slaveholding Virginian was President for 32 of the first 36 years that the Constitution governed our country” had the president been selected by popular vote. Apart from this glaring omission of history, Ross never really supports his basic premise that “The Electoral College is necessary to help preserve our democracy.”

It is one way to choose a president, not the only way. Recent elections have clearly demonstrated that it comes with serious disadvantages. America has changed enormously from the days when the Electoral College emerged as a compromise between selecting the president by popular vote or by Congress.

Travel and communication improvements now make it possible for presidential candidates to easily campaign nationwide, giving ordinary voters all the information they need to make their voting choice.

Choosing the president by popular vote gives every eligible voter just as much power as every other eligible voter. What could be more in line with democracy’s core principle of “one person, one vote?”

Lee Russ,

Bennington

Electoral College serves only minority interests

To the Editor: In reply to Weiland Ross, (Journal, April 2). The founders of the nation owned property; a “tyranny of the majority” was not a reality in their time. The issue was protecting the property interests of slave-holding states. The Electoral College was about electoral parity, as can be seen by virulent debates about balancing free states with slave-owning ones in the six decades leading to Civil War.

“Mob rule” was invented, as is its later incarnation by President Reagan, “Granny State.” Democracy in America is at risk only beginning with the Electoral College. For example, a rural voter has two to three times greater representation than his counterpart in populous states like California, New York and Florida. Minority rule is accepted because it resembles an institution when it is a rationale for self-interest by a numerical minority.

There is more: Rule-making in the U.S. Senate is so obscure it needs a parliamentarian to sort them out. For example, a single senator nixed President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court but soon after reversed his reasoning with President Trump’s choice. mThen there is gerrymandering, which yields control in the U.S. House to representatives of the Republican Party, who are handily outvoted by an aggregate of people who voted for their opponents.

The founding fathers feared mobs like the one that ravaged the Capitol on January 6. They would have few doubts about how those who incited them should be treated.

Craig Gilborn,

East Dorset


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