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Time to eliminate Electoral College?

// Published December 22, 2008 in Post-Tribune
With the Electoral College having met last Monday in each state to "elect" the next president of the United States, it is prime time for us to repeat our stance that the Indiana General Assembly needs to look into the possibility of doing away with the current system.

Four states have voted to eliminate the Electoral College and elect presidents by popular vote. Those states -- Illinois, Hawaii, Maryland and New Jersey -- represent 50 votes -- or 19 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to eliminate the current system.

Because of the concentration in the battleground states, two-thirds of the states were ignored by the presidential campaigns this fall. Because of the narrow focus, in the states where there is no doubt about the outcome, there is virtually no advertising, organizing or attention paid to the concerns of the voters.

The emphasis of the candidates is stark. FairVote, which advocates elimination of the Electoral College, makes the following observations about the recent presidential election.

* Of the 300 campaign events by major presidential candidates after Sept. 4, 57 percent took place in four states -- Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia -- states with 17 percent of the nation's eligible voters.

* Fifty-four percent of all presidential campaign ads aired in the same four states.

* More than 98 percent of all campaign events and spending took place in 15 states representing 36 percent of the nation's eligible voters, effectively sidelining two-thirds of all Americans.

Al Gore won the popular vote, but lost the election in 2000. If John Kerry had gotten 60,000 more votes in Ohio in 2004, he would have won the election, even though George Bush had more popular votes.

There is something drastically wrong with this picture.