News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


No more contrivances: Just let people choose president

People who say the president of the United States should be the person who gets the most Americans' votes — an eminently sensible idea — have come up with a convoluted way to achieve it.

Unable to get the Constitution amended to replace the Electoral College with direct popular voting, they propose that states enter into a compact pledging to give their electoral votes to the candidate who receives the largest number of popular votes.

If this plan had been in effect in 2000, Al Gore would have become president instead of George W. Bush. Mr. Gore received a half-million more popular votes.

In 2004, Mr. Bush would have had a secure victory over John Kerry. His popular-vote margin was big, even though a few votes in key states could have thrown the Electoral College to Mr. Kerry.

The scheme for an interstate compact is possible because the Constitution doesn't require presidential electors to vote for the candidates favored by people in their states, although traditionally almost all of them do.

This means that renegade Alabama electors could legally hand their votes to the Demo-cratic nominee even if Alabamians voted Republican — yet another reason that the Constitution needs to be changed.

The fair thing is to let the people elect the president. But the only good way to accomplish this is to change the Constitution to make it so. We should not lay one complicated plan — an interstate compact — on top of another, the Electoral College.

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