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Wrong kind of fix

Politicians, elected or not, usually want to retain power.

The dark side of that desire is seen in dictatorships and the strong-arm tactics used against the population. While in nations such as the United States, there is the absence of such ruthless behavior, this doesn’t mean there aren’t attempts to manipulate the existing system in order to gain an unfair advantage.

Redistricting is the most prevalent attempt to alter the course of elections and ensure one political party or the other remains the holder of a particular congressional seat. The word “gerrymandering” came about thanks in part to Elbridge Gerry, the governor of Massachusetts in 1812, who signed into law a redistricting plan that opponents say was shaped like a salamander, allowing his party to keep control of the state Senate.

The redistricting process, however, isn’t the only avenue politicians have used to try to keep power. Attention is now being turned toward the Electoral College.

Created out of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the Electoral College was an attempt to find balance between Congress, the states and the populace in electing a president. Since its implementation, it has changed, as witnessed by Congress creating and states ratifying the 12th Amendment. That happened in 1804 and since it has remained the method dependent upon a winner-take-all procedure.

More than 200 years later, it is probably true that it behooves Congress and the nation to see if there aren’t ways to improve the Electoral College to better fit the realities of modern presidential politics, where less and less attention is being paid to building broad geographic support. But whatever the system may require, the strategy developed by the Republican National Party is not the answer.

The plan calls for letting the states change the way electoral votes are awarded — based upon congressional districts. Thus a winner of a state’s popular vote could actually find themselves in a much tighter contest, if not actually losing, depending upon what was happening in the congressional district elections.

This idea isn’t about fixing the Electoral College. Rather, it’s an attempt to rig the results, particularly in those states that go one way with a presidential candidate and the other with their own representative.

We would like to think that most voters on both sides of the aisle see this plan for what it really is — a threat to fair elections — and will speak out against it.

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