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We are tired. The anchors, the pundits, retired Floridians and, of course, college kids are tired of Indecision 2000. For all the "Get Out the Vote" rhetoric, unless you live in Florida your vote hardly mattered. And even if you are a Palm Beach retiree who can't read a butterfly ballot (arguably the most important voter in the nation today), you still won't be deciding the next president--a judge will.
While the words "constitutional crisis" may be part of media-driven overkill, insecurity regarding our entire electoral system abounds. The New York Times has announced that although we are the world's oldest and most successful democracy, we have a deeply flawed way of electing our president. Tyler Professor of Constitutional Law Laurence H. Tribe '62, argues quite persuasively that the electoral college system is a "train wreck waiting to happen" that is embedded in our revered Constitution. Immediately after becoming senator-elect, Hillary Clinton upped her approval ratings by vowing to sponsor a constitutional amendment that would abolish the electoral college system. And a Gallup poll taken over the weekend shows that over 60 percent of Americans favor such an amendment.
It is no wonder that the latest New York Times/CBS poll shows that voters are not panicked about the current lack of a President-elect. They've realized that they aren't particularly involved in the electoral process anyway. Unless you're a constitutional lawyer and a superb statistician, when the Sunshine State finally does figure out who the next President will be, you won't be able to understand how he was chosen. Sheesh. It is a nationwide anti-climax and frankly, after a week of "too-close-to-calls," we're getting a little frustrated.
Will the nation ever be able to put aside its partisan infighting and stand behind the "winning" candidate? Well, it's time to call in the experts. A group of people familiar with the consequences of long, drawn-out procedures and the dangers of legal wrangling. A group that has felt the pain of media miscalculations. A group that combats voter apathy on a daily basis. I'm talking about the Undergraduate Council. Here is my contribution to the massive amount of polls that comment on the election that never ended. I call it: The Unscientific Election Poll. It was distributed over the UC-general open list.
The poll showed that parliamentary bodies find it incredibly difficult to move past partisan disputes. In some cases, council members harked back to past council scandals and their presidential equivalents. One member, although asked only for his full name and class year, went so far as to identify himself as by house, concentration, hometown, council committee and "leader of the 1998 pro-Impeachment rally." Remember, it has been close to a full year since the Burton impeachment. Additionally, in response to the question "Whose fault is the current lack of a definitive winner?" responses ran the gamut. Geoffrey Starks '02 responded, "all fault, in all ways, lies with Republicans, just kidding. I think this is the result of poor decision-making." Jeff Letalien '01 answered "Gore should acknowledge defeat. This is not the World Series. We shouldn't need to wait for a winner of four out of seven counts."
How would you as a member of the council, remedy this "constitutional crisis?" Many of the poll's respondents urged the country to follow the council's example. Both Geoffrey J. King '00-'01 and Harpaul A. Kohli '02 thought that voting should be changed to the council's voting system, called the Transferable ballot. This way voters could rank Nader first and Gore second, thereby not hurting Gore since in an election this close second-place votes would certainly have been counted. Letalien disagreed: "I hate to burst the bubbles of our most community-action oriented members, but this may be a bit beyond our jurisdiction. What I think may end up being necessary...is for the two campaigns to release their electors to vote for a consensus candidate who can lead after all of this. Perhaps Colin Powell."
Christina S.N. Lewis '02 is a history and literature concentrator in Leverett House. Her column appears on alternate Wednesdays.
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