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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-06-29 - 2:48 p.m.

Is the Electoral College Antiquated and Unnecessary in This New Media Age

Some weeks ago after reading a young man’s inquiry about why he should bother to vote in the upcoming Presidential election, I wrote to Senators Boxer and Feinstein suggesting that the electoral college may have outlived its usefulness. Perhaps young people might be more inclined to vote in Wyoming or Utah if they felt their vote really counted. I recognized that it would take an amendment to the Constitution – no small matter, of course. I also knew that it could not be accomplished prior to THIS election. I asked, however, if, even the founders of the Republic might not have a change of mind regarding this method of electing our President were they to understand the vast changes that have taken place in media coverage and campaigning.

In response to my query, I received this (abbreviated)letter from Senator Boxer today:

Dear Mrs. Callaway:

Thank you for contacting my office toexpress your views on the Electoral College. As you may know, the electoral college system was created by the Founders of the Republic. It is extremely difficult to amend the Constitution. Virtually all of the smaller states and many of the mid-sized states would be strongly opposed because Presidential candidates would then only campaign in the huge population centers of the country. Defenders of the old system believe that this forces candidates to campaign throughout the length and breadth of the land.

I believe that all citizens should become involved in the legislative process by letting their voices be heard, and I appreciate the time and effort that you took to share your thoughts with me. …”


Barbara Boxer

United States Senator

My response today to Senator Boxer and I repeat it here for your opinions:

Dear Senator Boxer:

But as it is, candidates still only go to the states that have the most electoral votes or those states that are shown to be wavering in the polls. With the mass media we have today, more town-hall meetings and debates on TV and fewer photo ops with same 'ol, same 'ol speeches, would perhaps make for a more enlightened electorate. I realize the electoral college was instituted way back when communication was only through the "stump", but many things in life have changed. The very idea of candidates and the incumbent flying around the country with their entourage, singing to the choir in each community for the benefit of the sound bites and photo ops of TV, plus fundraising, especially in the face of our dwindling oil reserves (and a finite amount available to the world), seems short-sighted to me.

I would much rather hear some in-depth coverage on TV and in the press, along with some sensitive analysis. This might even encourage younger voters to have some confidence in the system. As it is, when a President can be elected (or appointed as in the case of our most recent President) with less than the popular vote, it gives the impression that one's vote does not count.

I'm sure others have thought of this...but I still think the electoral college has outlived its usefulness, just as did other things that were at one time constitutional...slavery, the right to vote for women, etc. Because our forefathers thought it was a good idea does not mean we should not consider changing it. Every man's (and woman's) vote should count for something, regardless of the size of their state.


Joan Callaway


* * * * * * * * *

Currently, whichever presidential candidate gets the most popular votes in a State wins all of the Electors for that state except for the states of Maine and Nebraska, which award electoral votes proportionately. I’ve heard more than one-person say, “Why bother to vote? I live in a state that always goes ________. My vote will mean nothing.”

Please sign my guest book with a pro or con comment… I welcome the opinions of others on this subject. I would like to understand why the people of this country would reject the idea of one man, one vote.

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