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Letter: Electoral College’s checkered past

A resident casts a vote at a polling

A resident casts a vote at a polling place in Central Islip on Sept. 13, 2012. Credit: Ed Betz

Former Chief Judge Sol Wachtler’s op-ed, “A moment for the Electoral College?” [Aug. 15], addresses the argument we hear every four years: What is the use of a system that doesn’t allow for direct election of the president?

The opinion expressed by Wachtler goes back to our Founding Fathers and their basic fear of the people. Alexander Hamilton frequently expressed his concern that the passions of the people could lead to emotional decisions that were not in their best interests or would foster the stability of the country. But is it true?

I would venture to say that there has never been an election in which the Electoral College saved us from some egregious, emotionally based error. Candidates seen as extreme, be they conservatives such as Barry Goldwater, or liberals such as George McGovern, may have been able to garner their party’s nominations, but lost their general elections in landslides.

On the other hand, the Electoral College has contributed to manipulation of elections as far back as 1800. In 2000, George W. Bush lost the popular vote by 540,000, but narrowly won Florida, giving him the Electoral College majority.

With the Electoral College, you can lose many states by huge margins and win others by slim margins and still win the presidency. Most of the voters are left out, and all votes are not equal.

Alan Stein, Rockville Centre


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