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feinstein proposes amendment to abolish the electoral college

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/12/23/MNGM3AGB2L1.DTL Feinstein wants end to Electoral College Senator says she ll seek
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 24, 2004
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      http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/12/23/MNGM3AGB2L1.DTL

      Feinstein wants end to Electoral College
      Senator says she'll seek constitutional amendment

      Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau

      Thursday, December 23, 2004

      Washington -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday
      that when Congress returns in January, she will
      propose a constitutional amendment to abolish the
      Electoral College and replace it with a one-person,
      one-vote system for electing the nation's president
      and vice president.

      In introducing the amendment, the Democrat from San
      Francisco is joining Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, who
      last month introduced a similar proposal in the House,
      which she said she would reintroduce in the 109th
      Congress that convenes on Jan. 3.

      The two California lawmakers say the current system
      makes most Americans election bystanders, pointing
      toward the recent campaign in which President Bush and
      his Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry, focused almost
      all their time, energy and campaign funds on a handful
      of undecided states in search of their electoral
      votes.

      "The Electoral College is an anachronism, and the time
      has come to bring our democracy into the 21st
      century," Feinstein said in a statement. "During the
      founding years of the republic, the Electoral College
      may have been a suitable system, but today it is
      flawed and amounts to national elections being decided
      in several battleground states.''

      Despite some popular appeal, the proposal faces a
      difficult road to passage. It takes a two-thirds vote
      in both houses of Congress followed by ratification by
      38 states for a constitutional amendment to become
      law.

      Feinstein's staff pointed out Wednesday that 25 years
      ago, the Senate voted 51-48 for a proposal to abolish
      the Electoral College, a majority but still far short
      of the two-thirds required. About 10 years before
      that, the House voted 338-70 for abolishment, but the
      Senate didn't act that year.

      Feinstein, who has the support of Sen. Lincoln Chafee,
      R-Rhode Island, as a co-sponsor, said the Electoral
      College, which awards each state and the District of
      Columbia a minimum of three votes, is unfair to states
      such as California because it takes far more popular
      votes to win even one of California's 55 electoral
      votes than, for instance, to win one of the three in a
      sparsely populated state such as North Dakota. Most
      states award their electoral votes in a
      winner-take-all fashion, although Nebraska, with five,
      and Maine, with four, have a proportional system for
      allocating their electoral votes.

      And, citing Bush's 271-266 Electoral College win over
      Democrat Al Gore in 2000, she said it isn't right that
      a candidate can lose the popular vote but still win a
      victory in the college. Gore won the popular vote by
      more than 500, 000 votes but lost the election because
      of the Electoral College tally, a result that had
      occurred in three other presidential elections.

      Electoral College supporters say the current system
      for electing a president guarantees small states a
      voice in the campaign. They argue it is consistent
      with the intent of the Founding Fathers, who created a
      republic in which voters delegate powers to elected
      representatives, and not a direct democracy.

      They also say that even without the college,
      candidates of the two major parties will still focus
      their efforts where their parties are strongest and
      that the proposed system would lead to more third
      parties, which could splinter the vote.
    • Ram Lau
      I ve always thought that it was impossible to ask the small states to ratify the amendment. Let s take a look at the electoral votes of each state from 2001 to
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 26, 2004
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        I've always thought that it was impossible to ask the small states
        to ratify the amendment. Let's take a look at the electoral votes of
        each state from 2001 to 2010:

        Alaska 3
        Delaware 3
        D.C. 3
        Montana 3
        North Dakota 3
        South Dakota 3
        Vermont 3
        Wyoming 3

        Hawaii 4
        Idaho 4
        Maine 4
        New Hampshire 4
        Rhode Island 4

        Nebraska 5
        Nevada 5
        New Mexico 5
        Utah 5
        West Virginia 5

        Arkansas 6
        Kansas 6
        Mississippi 6

        Connecticut 7
        Iowa 7
        Oklahoma 7
        Oregon 7

        Kentucky 8
        South Carolina 8

        Alabama 9
        Colorado 9
        Louisiana 9

        Arizona 10
        Maryland 10
        Minnesota 10
        Wisconsin 10

        Indiana 11
        Missouri 11
        Tennessee 11
        Washington 11
        Massachusetts 12
        Virginia 13
        Georgia 15
        New Jersey 15
        North Carolina 15
        Michigan 17
        Ohio 20
        Illinois 21
        Pennsylvania 21
        Florida 27
        New York 31
        Texas 34
        California 55

        It just seems very unlikely to pass the ratification process, given
        how solidly Republican some states (like Mississippi and Alabama)
        are. They would rather take all the electoral votes with some 60% of
        popular support for the Republican candidate. The best case scenario
        is probably coming close to 38 but falling short by a few states,
        even with much broad effort from all over the country.

        Ram
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