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What do you think about scrapping Electoral College?

Staff Report • Sep 10, 2012 at 11:21 AM

Former Vice President Al Gore says he is now a proponent of replacing the Electoral College process for electing a president with a new plan known as the National Popular Vote. The Electoral College system has come under criticism since Gore lost the 2000 presidential election.

Even though Gore won the popular vote, that election saw George W. Bush capture the most Electoral College votes. It was the first time in more than a century that the candidate finishing first in the popular vote did not win the election for the White House.

Gore remained a supporter of the Electoral College process even after losing his bid for the White House. Recently, however, Gore said he has had a change of heart.

“It’s always tough to amend the Constitution and risky to do so, but there is a very interesting movement under way that takes it state by state, that may really have a chance of succeeding,” Gore said during Current TV’s coverage of the Republican National Convention. “I hope it does.”

The National Popular Vote seeks to change the way Electoral College votes are divided up in a presidential election. Currently, when voters go to the polls to pick a president, they are actually selecting a slate of “electors” who represent each state. These electors combine to form the Electoral College.

Electors are typically strong and loyal supporters of their political party, but can never be a sitting member of Congress. After the election, the party that wins the most votes in each state appoints all of the electors for that state. This is known as a “winner-take-all” or “unit rule” of electors. The only current exceptions to this rule are in Maine and Nebraska.

Fred Thompson, a former Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee, and other leaders of the National Popular Vote campaign want to allow a state to cast its electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of the winner in that state. This method could only be used when states boasting a total of at least 270 electoral votes — the minimum for victory — make the same pledge.

National Popular Vote bills have passed in the legislatures of several states. Legal scholars say the idea is a long shot but may be easier than trying to amend the Constitution, which takes approval by Congress and then ratification by 38 states.

As we’ve said in this space before, this is simply a scheme to circumvent the Constitution and should be treated as such by state lawmakers. The Founding Fathers established a procedure for amending the U.S. Constitution, and it does not include shenanigans.

We want to know what you think of the idea of scrapping the Electoral College.

You can Sound off on this topic by sending your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

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