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Resolving the Crisis over

Determining the Winning Candidate

for the Presidency.


It is recommended that a Special Session of the Florida Legislature be called to meet at the beginning of December, 2000, for the purpose of passing a law 1) assigning the political parties' candidates for the Electoral College to the candidates for the Presidency in proportion to the number of citizens voting for each, to the nearest whole number, 2) directing said chosen Electors to cast their ballots for their assigned candidate.

And furthermore and at the same time to urge other State legislatures to be convoked promptly for the same purpose.

And furthermore and at the same time and in such legislative sessions as may result, to urge the other States to put to a vote a resolution to amend the Constitution of the United States to abolish the Electoral College and make the election of the President go to the person who has commanded a popular majority in the election.


13 of the Florida to the Electoral College will vote for either George Bush or Al Gore, depending upon which of the two men has a plurality of votes as of the closing and counting of ballots on the deadline date for the receipt of valid absentee ballots, and the remaining 12 Electors will vote for the other man. Depending upon the results of other possible vote recounts in other States, the election may go to either man.


An avalanching effect may occur. For those States, whose popular vote, accredited in the Florida manner, will benefit a candidate supported by the State legislature's majority, may well enact similar laws, until all States will find it both politically expedient and popularly required to do the same. In the end, the Electoral College will be largely accountable to a popular vote, except that the smaller States will still obtain an advantage, because the Electoral College will still exist as set up in the Constitution, and therefore will be biased in favor of the States with small populations. The State legislatures, however, can help the general situation, if they provide for a balloting system that forces a majority. They must leave no opportunity for a third or additional candidates to cut the vote of the winner, which would in fact give a virtual vote in the Electoral College to third party voters (see IV, 13, below).



The Governor, Legislature and responsible elective officers of the State of Florida recognize that the indeterminancy of the election results in Florida is in itself causing the delay, possibly to great national disadvantage, of the Presidential election and is rendering indeterminate the identity of the next President because of the closeness of the Electoral College Vote throughout the nation.


In constitutional law, the State legislatures have in their hands, and for a long time have had in their hands, the power to adjust the Electoral College quota, that has been calculated for their State, to the popular will (aside from the above-mentioned advantage given least populous States).


Throughout the history of the nation, the Electoral College has been unpopular because it manifestly has played into the hands of the politicians in control of State legislatures. These have generally tried to maximize their influence in the election of and with the incoming President by giving him all, instead of his proportionate share, of the State's Electors.


The Electoral College has not only been unpopular but has also been difficult for the average citizen and voter to comprehend.

One result has been that almost all of the few defenders of the Electoral College have stood to benefit directly by its workings.

But they have been strategically placed to protect the Electoral College.


There have been several near crises when either the winner in the Electoral College has not possessed a popular plurality, not to speak of a majority, or a dangerous controversy has erupted, or an election has been thrown unreasonably into the hands of the

majority faction of the House of Representatives. The Electoral College played a part in the shameful corrupt bargain that followed the Electoral College fiasco of the 1876 election, the results of which contributed to a century of repression of the black people of America and the degradation of the South.


The inequitable nature of the College has tended to favor large interests in the smaller States and to benefit unprogressive interests in some rural States, or, conversely, to encourage extreme movements of the right and left in these States. Contrary to those who say the system brings stability, the system brings instability. To a handful of politicians and rich interests, who usually dominate these smaller States, this unstable system does reliably bring larger benefits. Many voices lament rightly the undue influence of special interests in the United States, but the

favoritism given the special interests of the less populous States as such is both real and structurally implanted.


The inequitable nature of the Electoral College, together with other structures of government, has given some heavily rural areas and several small States an undeserved and unwarranted advantage over the large cities. They are given a voting power per capita several times that of urban folk. The Electoral College, at considerable cost, brings a small and unasked-for increment of power to a few millions to the detriment of some 250 million Americans.


In some States, Electoral College candidates, rendered so insignificant by the system, are not even named on the ballot, which lends a bizarre atmosphere to the process of electing the President. Their personal traits and background, even when named, mean nothing to the vast majority of citizens.


The Electoral College, as is flagrantly displayed in the present crisis, inspires a distaste for the American way of government around the world. It is impossible to justify in political debate, and provides solace to those engaged in the business of suppressing democracy. Short of abolishing the College, the reduction of the status of the Electors to messengers of the popular will such as is expressed in popular elections would stifle practically all criticisms of the institution.


Granted that the elimination of the College is preferable to its maintenance, the political difficulties of providing a constitutional amendment to do so are enormous, and therefore an alternative solution to the immediate problem is required. The action required of the Governor of Florida, who is the brother of candidate George Bush, in convoking the Legislature into special session, being voluntary, would be widely regarded as a noble and rare civic deed, for which he would be forever honored.


A danger of extensive demonstrations, rioting and public disorder is present now and may increase as the controversy over the November 7, 2000 election results continues to deadlock the government and prevent a clear and proper choice of a candidate who is perceived to have truly and fairly won the election. Such unrest can easily spread and impinge upon ever deeper issues and chasms of public consensus. The media can be expected to enhance this collective process. The high rate of participation in the election may have indicated not only an unanticipated general interest of the public, but also, as has happened in democracies in times past, a general displeasure that could cross the threshold of normal expressions of opinion via the ballot into more extreme crowd behavior. That is, the rate of participation in voting is like the fever gauge on a thermometer.


Unless a progressive step forward is taken, preferably a leap forward, the next President will encounter formidable obstacles to his carrying on the government and guiding legislation, because of adamant massive opposition in Congress and among politicians, and because of a large mistrust and hostility generated among the public.


The proposed action of the Florida legislature would nullify the Third Party effect that has brought about the harmful present situation. Ralph Nader achieved a sufficient vote to deny the election to Al Gore. One study concludes that two-thirds of the Nader vote would have gone to Gore. So the advantage claimed for the Electoral College, that it would discourage minor parties, is also a disadvantage of the College; the tactics of minor parties are changed, and the same effect comes about in a different way. What is needed is a system, such as the Brams approval-voting system. There the voter votes for all candidates that he or she considers acceptable. All approvals are counted. The candidate who wins the most approvals wins the election. In the Florida case, such a ballot would have produced a majority for Gore. This is the system most closely applicable to the reform mentioned in Section III above.


The Electoral College is supported as "conservative," a term that is as abused as the term "egalitarian" or "democratic" or "elitist." It is a conservatism that is either self-serving, or short-sighted and uninventive.


While the action proposed to the Florida government will in itself possibly enable an acceptable and enduring solution enduring over the next four years and even longer, the extended action involving the full complement of States sufficient to propose to the people that they approve a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College is by no means too difficult. The machinery of government under the Constitution, although generally cumbersome, can generate great speed when deemed necessary, as happened in the repealing of the Eighteenth (Prohibition) Amendment in the middle of the Great Depression and soon after the presidential election of 1932. It is also possible that the Florida action, no matter whether the ultimate winner be George Bush or Al Gore, will generate the momentum to bring about the drastic reform or abolition of the Electoral College within the next two or three years.


Whatever happens now in Florida, the Electoral College, and the Presidency, the government of the United States requires a thoroughgoing restudy, redesigning and restructuring, such as was the real intent of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and others who gathered to amend the Articles of Confederation and who, uninvited to do so, framed the present Constitution. The new technological, industrial, and organizational revolution is nationalizing the country and globalizing the world. If the United States government is unequipped to lead this global transformation, which clutches alike and easily the most remote oil pipeline worker in the State of Alaska and the operator of a computer café in Tampa, Florida, while abroad it makes the Palestinians and the Timor Islanders constituents in fact of the Presidency and Congress, then much of America's directing influence will pass into other hands and/or the world will slump into a general misery that will not pass over America.

Alfred de Grazia

< mailto:<, > Angouleme, France,

14 Nov. 2000

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