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Electoral College's Time Has Passed

October 30, 2004

Re "The Electoral College Does It Better," Commentary, Oct. 27: Writer Benjamin Zycher offers that the electoral college "occasionally frustrates the will of the plurality or the majority. But the founding fathers understood the dangers of direct democracy and struggled to create a system that reflected the will of the people while constraining the majority."

Actually, the founding fathers were for democracy, for one small group -- property-owning, taxpaying white males. The wisdom of our system is that we took the principles the founding fathers applied to that small group and gradually expanded democracy to include everyone.

The electoral college is a vestige of 18th century thinking that should be repudiated. Today the electoral college merely serves to give disproportionate power to interest groups that can tip the balance of power in swing states.

Jim Corbett

San Clemente

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Zycher's purpose in supporting the electoral college is partisan. He is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, a right-wing think tank dedicated to right-wing objectives. The founding fathers compromised on many issues to achieve a constitutional state. In the course of American history, we have amended some of their mistakes, such as counting a slave as three-fifths of a person for purposes of representation and allowing only property owners and males to vote.

After the latest contested presidential election, in 2000, it is time to correct the electoral college mistake. In a democracy it does not make sense to have the runner-up in a one-person/one-vote system become the head of state, and it undercuts our efforts to spread freedom and majority rule around the globe.

Jean E. Rosenfeld

Pacific Palisades

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In Zycher's article, he asserts that the electoral college was created because of the great wisdom of the founding fathers, who believed that without it, the populace might make extreme decisions. That isn't the reason at all. The electoral college was created to accommodate slavery, without which the South wouldn't have joined the Union.

Article I of the Constitution says the number of representatives each state shall have will be based on the population of that state, [and] counts "all other persons," meaning slaves, as three-fifths of a person. That is every 10 slaves will count as six people in the population count.

But, even if every 10 slaves are counted as six people, you still have the problem of how these people would vote. In Article II of the Constitution they devised the electoral college, the members of which were to equal the sum of the state's representatives plus the senators. By using the electoral college, the South got to vote on behalf of the slaves through the electoral college.

Because of the connection between the electoral college and slavery, people have tried to devise lofty reasons for its creation, but it was created to accommodate slavery, pure and simple.

Robert C. Mason

Simi Valley

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