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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Letters to the editor: Electoral College

Published: November 9, 2007
Section: Opinions

Dear Editor,

Bret Matthew's opinion (Nov. 2) that the Electoral College is a “waste of time” is exactly right and for the reason he cites: Massachusetts, which votes reliably Democratic, is ignored by presidential candidates in the general election. In fact in the 2004 election 99% of all presidential campaign expenditures were made in just 17 states! Those 17 not only excluded Massachusetts, they also excluded California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and many other large states allowing a very small number of states effectively to elect the president.

Mr. Matthew's solution – a constitutional amendment – is, however, highly unlikely to solve the problem. Since 1969 there have been 8 attempts in Congress to amend the constitution to provide for popular election of the president. All have failed.

There is a much easier and better way: Earlier this year Massachusetts State Senators Joan Menard and Robert Havern introduced Senate Bill S445, and in the House Representatives Martin J. Walsh and Charles A. Murphy introduced identical legislation, H678. These bills would allow for the direct, popular election of the president without a constitutional amendment. If signed into law, Massachusetts would cast all of its 12 Electoral College votes to the candidate that wins the largest number of popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. But the law would take effect only when a sufficient number of states to achieve a majority in the Electoral College, 270 votes, enact identical legislation. So far this legislation has passed both legislative houses in four states, one house in three states, and has been signed into law in one state, Maryland.

– Herb Engstrom, Ph.D.

National Popular Vote,

Mountain View, Calif.