The Nov. 1 editorial "The Non-College Try" complained that under the current electoral system "[s]mall states have a disproportionate voice." That's precisely the point.

One of the Constitution's primary functions is to ensure that the big states don't run the nation by virtue of the size of their populations. The electoral college is the mechanism through which the Constitution fulfills that objective regarding the executive branch. The Senate serves the same purpose in the legislative branch. If the electoral college were eliminated, the Senate might as well be too, because both institutions are based on the same principle.

Of course the electoral college system has problems -- every system has problems. But if we had direct elections, candidates would campaign only in the most populous states, greatly weakening the system.

Direct election also wouldn't solve the frustrating problem concerning the integrity of voting and counting votes. The 2000 election's major-party popular-vote totals were about 540,000 votes apart. If we had had a direct election that year, with every vote counting toward a national total, both Republicans and Democrats would have had lawyers scouring every precinct, looking for ballots that might have helped their candidate while also filing challenges to discount as many of the other candidate's votes as possible. Florida was bad, but under direct election in 2000, we would have had nationwide chaos.




The Post is wrong about the electoral college preventing regional candidates from winning.

The electoral college actually favors parties that can win a majority in states with a majority of the electoral votes, even if those parties don't have many voters in other states. That is how Abraham Lincoln became president without winning any votes in the South and without winning a popular majority.

Other nations have had civil wars based on divisions of class, but our nation had a civil war based on a geographical division, and the electoral college is one reason.


New York


Peter M. Shane ["Repair the Electoral College," op-ed, Oct. 31] is right about bias in the electoral college because of the senatorial electors. The nine most populous states have 51.2 percent of the vote but only 241 electoral college votes. Despite their minority population, the other 42 states and the District have 297 electoral college votes because of their senatorial electors.

However, the removal of the two extra electors from each state does not deal with the abomination of the parties telling 80 percent of the people (and 85 percent of blacks and Hispanics) that their vote does not count because they do not live in a battleground state. Only a national popular election with a second-round runoff, as in France, would solve both problems.

One need not worry about the rural states; states with 18 percent of the population have a majority of senators. States with 11 percent can exercise the 41-senator veto. They are overwhelmingly the more rural states.