Colorado, the electoral college and gay marriage

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A state to watch this election year is Colorado. Not the presidential race but a statewide plebiscite to dismantle the electoral college as we know it. On the Colorado ballot is an initiative to apportion the state’s electoral college vote according to the presidential candidate’s percentage of the popular vote instead of winner take all. Most other states, like Kentucky, apportion all their electoral college votes to the one candidate with the largest plurality of popular vote. Maine and Nebraska, however, apportion their votes to the winner of each congressional district with the remaining two votes (comprisng the Senate component) going to the statewide winner.

The U.S. Senate was established as an arm of the Legislative branch to appease the small populated states and give them a voice in Congress. The electoral college system was set up similarly to appease these small states. In today’s predominant two party system with an evenly polarized electorate our current presidential electoral system needs to be scrapped and replaced with direct national popular election. In an election in which the solid “red and blue” states on the electoral college map have such strongholds for one major party candidate or another, one’s vote essentially doesn’t count due to this archaic electoral college system. The only peoples’ votes who count in this presidential election year are those in the swing or battleground states, again due to the electoral college. Will George Bush win Massachusetts or New York and will John Kerry win Texas or Kentucky? I doubt it on both counts. Like the election of 2000, a candidate can win several states by only a few hundred votes, win the magic 270 in the electoral college and lose the popular vote by several hundred thousand. This has happened a few times in our nation’s history. But in the event of no one reaching a majority of the electoral college vote the House of Representatives chooses our President with one state one vote. The House, with its partisanship, has had a hand in the selection process of our president three times in the last 216 years.

If the Colorado initiative is passed maybe a cry for electoral reform will be heard throughout this land. Instead of clamoring for a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, why not propose a change in the constitution that REALLY matters? Then we can be sure in a truely direct national popular election of our president that ALL votes count. And that the people, not one state, the House or the Supreme Court, will choose our president!

Jim Engle

Father of WKU student

Brandenburg, KY