Tags: 'Swinging | Electors'?

'Swinging Electors'?

Monday, 20 November 2000 12:00 AM

A cable news channel reported Friday that blitzing Democratic linebacker Bob Beckel was busy trolling around for Republican electors in states Bush carried in hopes of getting enough of them to change their votes to Gore in the REAL election (Electoral College vote, Dec. 18).

Beckel is more than articulate. He's high-volume voluble. I instinctively wanted to cover my ears, the way you do when you anticipate big thunder after big lightning.

I expected Beckel to deny any and all elector-tampering accusations and threaten lawsuits against any and all who allege thereto.

Surprise. There he was on television the same day freely admitting and calmly explaining he was, indeed, conducting "a little reseach" on Republican electors because there's nothing at all improper, Beckel says, to try to get them to switch their votes to Gore if they happen to come from a state that doesn't bind their electors to vote the way they were elected to vote.

Beckel denied there was anything "sleazy," the interviewer's word, for this activity and, in fact, he took the high ground by claiming, "Gore won this state of Florida and he won it real big!"

Knowledge is power and already I'm a little bit stronger. It's a crime, apparently, to tell a member of the jury in a courthouse elevator that the defendant in a domestic-abuse case is really a good guy, but it's altogether okay to importune a presidential elector to vote for the opponent of the one he was elected to vote for!

A hastily mounted Web site actually lists the names and home numbers of Republican electors in states that Bush carried who are free to vote for president as they please. That Web site exhorts the public to inundate those electors with messages urging them to ignore their commitment to vote for Bush and obey the higher call to "defend the will of the people" by voting for Gore in the Electoral College. They further proclaim that, since Gore won the popular vote, Gore should be the next president.

Invoking the popular vote as a reason to install Gore as president is a spiked-toe boot-kick into the groin of the Constitution. The enterprise of lobbying electors to change their vote shrouds the selection of our next president in all the dignity of a three-card monte game on New York's Eighth Avenue.

And it demands an even more forceful mirror-image counterattack. These next few lines are, admittedly, an insult to readers savvy to the intricacies of the Electoral College. Please tolerate a brief review. So many Americans assume the "Electoral College" is for politicians what West Point is to army officers and the Culinary Institute of America is to young chefs.

You may think you voted for Bush or Gore on Nov. 7, 2000. Actually you did no such thing. You voted for a slate of "electors" in your state – members of the Electoral College – pledged to vote for Bush or Gore, depending on which one carried your state. Don't those electors always vote the way they're committed? Not exactly.

My fifth-grade teacher was fascinated by the story of our fifth president, James Monroe, who carried every state but did not get all the electoral votes!

One elector denied Monroe his vote on grounds that he thought George Washington should be the only president ever to win every single electoral vote. Since then there have been other defections for other reasons; but not many, not important, and none that ever threatened to deny the rightful winner his victory, such as the Beckel effort would today if Bush is certified as the winner in Florida.

Every young man knows that some of the girls are married, some are engaged, some are in love, some just aren't interested in him. The wise young man goes after the others. Likewise, Beckel and his allied lobbyists are only going after the electors in states that Bush carried who are NOT specifically commanded to vote for Bush in the Electoral College and who may be susceptible to the blandishment of entering history by switching their vote from Bush to Gore.

It's time the Bush side "did a little research" on Gore electors in states that Gore carried that don't bind electors to vote the way they're pledged. If Beckel is going to challenge Bush electors to respond to the higher call and vote for Gore in order to "defend the will of the people," then the Bush team ought to challenge Gore electors to respond to the higher call and vote for Bush in order to "defend the Constitution."

This is more than partisan counter-sniping. With a 50 percent voter turnout, a mere quarter of eligible American voters chose Gore, hardly rising to the "will of the people" threshhold. But the Constitution stands 100 percent behind the winner of the electoral votes ascending to the presidency.

This election of 2000 will already be known as the election of the "swinging chads."

Let's see if it will also become known as the election of the "swinging electors."

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A cable news channel reported Friday that blitzing Democratic linebacker Bob Beckel was busy trolling around for Republican electors in states Bush carried in hopes of getting enough of them to change their votes to Gore in the REAL election (Electoral College vote, Dec....
'Swinging,Electors'?
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2000-00-20
Monday, 20 November 2000 12:00 AM
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