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Thumbs Up: One Person One Vote

// Published June 21, 2008 in Vero Beach Press Journal (FL)
Florida's senior U.S. senator has proposed major election reform, abolishing the Electoral College and establishing regional, rotating presidential primaries.

Democrat Bill Nelson, in a release from his office, said, "It's time for Congress to really give Americans the power of one-person, one-vote, instead of the political machinery selecting candidates and electing our president."

Under the Electoral College system, Americans don't directly elect the president and vice president. Rather they select electors based on the number of senators and House members in their state. The electors are expected to — though they are not required to — cast their ballots for the candidates winning the popular vote in their states.

A candidate can — and they have been — elected by narrowly winning large states while losing the national popular vote. Nelson cites as an example the 2000 presidential election in which George W. Bush was elected by the Electoral College while losing the national popular vote to Al Gore by more than 500,000 votes.

Abolishing the Electoral College would require a two-thirds majority vote in Congress and the approval of 37 state legislatures.

To overcome the debacle this year of the Democratic National Committee punishing Florida and Michigan for voting earlier than party rules allowed, Nelson is proposing the creation of six regions that would take turns holding primary elections on a rotating basis with votes being cast, starting in March and ending in June every four years.

Clearly many Americans are fed up with the current election system, particularly when they justly feel their votes are not fully taken into account in the ultimate elections of the president and vice president.

Nelson should be commended for taking the bold step to bring the issue before Congress for reforms that may give voters more confidence and more power in their votes.