Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Saving the Electoral College

Gail Heriot of The Right Coast has been posting on the subject "Does the Electoral College Makes Sense?" She is trying to make the case for abolishing the Electoral College. Her latest post is here. I think she has yet to address a very good argument for keeping the Electoral College, which comes from Glenn C. Altschuler, writing at The New York Observer in a review of Why the Electoral College Is Bad for America, by George C. Edwards III:
[T]o avoid the possibility of electing a President who has only a plurality in a crowded field, advocates of direct election provide for a runoff if no candidate gets 40 percent of the vote. The runoff, Mr. Edwards acknowledges, "has some potential to fragment the party system." He argues, strenuously, that runoffs would be rare and would not destabilize the political system. The provision, however, is fraught with danger. Third-, fourth- and fifth-party candidates -- let’s call them Ralph, Ross and Lyndon LaRouche -- could enter the first round. Without a winner-take-all in each state, voters might be less likely to think they were wasting their votes on them. These reforms might weaken the already fragile two-party system -- which, for all its flaws, has served this country well -- and put fringe parties in the driver’s seat, à la Israel. It doesn’t seem worth the risk. Maybe, after all, the Founders were right.
Yep, just maybe.