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Jewish World Review Nov. 20, 2000 / 22 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761

Mark Lane

Mark Lane
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Consumer Reports

Giving it the old Electoral College try -- THROUGHOUT the endgame of this bizarre election, I have been called upon many times to explain the workings of the Electoral College.

People don't always believe me after I do.

The idea that we vote as states and not as individuals is a quadrennial big surprise to people. Even people who took civics in high school. Most folks wonder why presidential selection is as convoluted as the average college-football playoff system.

No matter who becomes president, the demand will be heard for a system that's easier to explain with a straight face.

Already, several alternatives to the Electoral College have been proposed:

The Electoral High School -- Maybe the Electoral College is too demanding and we should replace it with the Electoral High School. Instead of voting by states, Americans would be divided into homerooms. Everyone would vote during first period.

Advantage: post-election prom.

Disadvantage: the powerful role of assistant principals.

The Electoral Elementary School -- Everyone sits in a circle and quietly listens to the ballot instructions. Then crayons are passed out and everyone circles their choices and underlines them.

Advantage: juice and cookies after everyone turns in their ballots! No mistakes in Palm Beach.

Disadvantage: having to walk single file.

The Electoral Bingo Parlor -- First candidate to win five states in a straight line is the president.

Advantage: easy to keep score at home.

Disadvantage: favors big square Western states where nobody lives.

The Electoral Wrestling Match -- If contenders are separated by less than 0.5 percent of the vote, either candidate has the option of shouting, "Let's just settle this in the Squared Circle!" If the challenge is accepted, both candidates must meet in a wrestling ring. Two throws out of three determines the leader of the free world. No tag teams. Let's see what these leaders are really made of! Think of the ratings!

Advantage: a living link to an earlier era of trial by combat.

Disadvantage: President Ventura.

The Electoral Scissors, Paper, Stone -- Each candidate will submit a sealed envelope to the speaker of the House containing one of the words: scissors, paper, stone.

In case of an electoral tie, the envelopes will be unsealed in the presence of a joint session of Congress and the clerk will read the candidates' choices. The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court will interpret the outcome according to the traditional rules: Scissors cut paper. Stone breaks scissors. Paper covers stone . . . .

Advantage: so simple Congress can't mess up.

Disadvantage: Both sides might endlessly pick the same thing - paper, paper; rock, rock . . .

The strangest proposal of all -- We could use the same system we use to pick every other elected official in every town, city, mosquito-control district, county, legislative district, congressional district and state. The person with the most votes wins.

Disadvantage: It's just too easy.

Comment on JWR contributor Mark Lane's column by clicking here.

11/10/00: Ballot messes a Florida tradition
11/07/00: Vote naked! Cool idea, but is it progress?
11/02/00: Semi-whistle while you para-work
10/27/00: Decided by the undecided


© 2000, M. R. Lane