A move toward democracy

Dear Editor:Proposition 36 is endorsed by the League of Women Voters, and would make Colorado’s votes in the Electoral College proportional to the real vote.With the present winner-takes-all system, the winner of all Colorado’s electoral votes could get only 34 percent of the people’s votes in a three-way race. The winner-takes-all system practically guarantees that no third party will ever be able to challenge the Republican or Democratic parties, which may be why both are against any change in the present system.The winner-takes-all system increases the likelihood that someone can be elected president who is not the first choice of the majority of the nation’s voters. In 2000, George Bush was not the first choice for president by over 543,000 voters. Is this democracy? How creditable is our effort to bring democracy to the Middle East if our own system can put someone in office who is rejected by a majority – a majority which could be as large as one million voters? It is a clear violation of the principle of “one man one vote.” Proposition 36 will not cure this problem for the United States as a whole, but by endorsing it, Colorado will join Main and Nebraska in moving the nation toward democracy. If all the “swing states” are first to drop the winner-takes-all rule, then the non-swing states will inevitably move to make this reform. It is commonplace to confuse the undemocratic aspects of the Electoral College with the undemocratic aspects of the winner-takes-all rule for choosing electors to the Electoral College. Proposition 36 does not affect the workings of the Electoral College in any way, only the way in which Colorado chooses electors to it. Proposition 36 has no effect on the preference given to the populations of low population states over big states, nor of big cities over small states. Those are issues related to the structure of the Electoral College, which Proposition 36 does not address. Opponents of proportional voting say that it will give big cities an advantage over low-population states. This notion is a complete myth, unrelated to the objective of Proposition 36.The winner-takes-all rule, aside from producing undemocratic results, promotes oligarchy: the rule by cliques, rich “insiders” and lobbyists, because it is far more susceptible to manipulation than a simple proportional vote. It does this by minimizing the significance of dissenting views by eliminating any real possibility of their representation in the Electoral College. Undemocratic election rules, like winner-take-all, can produce results which the majority of citizens have rejected. This has many adverse consequences: It discourages participation in elections and stresses the national fabric. How can the government acquire the loyalty or support of its people when it turns its back on their choice? Raymond AugerAspen