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September 10, 2004

From brouhaha to kerfuffle

In response to Jesse Jackson Sr. and Jr.'s demand for the abolition of the Electoral College, Opinion Journal looks into the Pandora's Box that would be opened by such a change:
Direct popular election would also vastly increase the risk of corruption and electoral disputes. With every vote competing directly against every other vote, dishonest politicians everywhere would have an incentive to engage in fraud on behalf of their parties. And a close race would make the 2000 Florida brouhaha look like a kerfuffle. Every one of the nation's 3,066 counties could expect to be overrun by lawyers demanding recounts.
They also note that the required constitutional amendment is unlikely to gain ratification by a two-thirds majority of the states:
The effort to institute direct popular election of the President is also likely to go nowhere. That's because the Electoral College benefits two groups of states--sparsely populated ones, whose representation in the College is disproportionately high relative to their populations, and closely divided "swing" states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where both parties have a decent shot at winning.

Based on 2000 Census data and election results, only 11 states are both populous and politically monolithic enough that their influence would grow with popular election of the President: California, Texas, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Indiana and Maryland. Amending the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College would require the assent of 38 state legislatures, so at least 27 of them would have to vote against the interests of their own states.


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