New York Times prints our response to “Time to End the Electoral College”

New York Times prints our response to “Time to End the Electoral College”


In response to Tuesday’s (12/20/16) “Time to End the Electoral College,” today the Times printed our response under the general headline: Get Rid of the Electoral College?



This election has seen numerous calls to abolish the Electoral College system. Many of the theoretical objections — such as the greater weight given to votes from sparsely populated states — have merit. But these objections fail to account for the practical difficulties involved in switching to a popular vote system.

One problem is what happens if the popular vote is extraordinarily close — for example, in 1960, when Richard Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy by 0.17 percent. By necessity a national recount would take place, requiring recounting every single ballot in every polling precinct in every state.

To imagine how difficult that recount would be, think of Florida in the 2000 election. Then, just a few precincts were recounted in a highly contentious and time-consuming process. A national recount would likely take months or more.

Whether intended by the framers or not, one benefit of the Electoral College system is that a clear-cut winner is determined on Election Day or relatively shortly thereafter. The alternative would be months of turmoil and uncertainty during a recount of tens of millions of ballots, and untold lawsuits.



Given that potential problems with a national recount in a popular vote system are very rarely discussed, I can’t say for sure whether my concern is valid or overblown. For example, in the thousands of online comments to the editorial, I did not see any mention of how a national recount would work in actuality.

Nonetheless, we’ve never before had a national election and, hence, never faced a national recount. History does not bode well for quick recounts. The 2008 Minnesota Senate recount lasted over 8 months with seemingly endless legal maneuverings. The 1974 New Hampshire Senate race was so close that after many months of recounting a second election was held.

And those were just single state recounts. The point is that in a national recount all 50 states and the District of Columbia would have to be recounted.

Imagine if we had an another election as close as 1880 when Garfield won by less than 2000 popular votes.

Until the mechanism and timetable for a national recount is made crystal clear, we should be wary of abolishing the Electoral College system.

UPDATE: A look inside the “readers page” from NYTimes Letter-to-the-Editor editor Tom Feyer



The paper arrives, Wednesday morning. 12/21/16

A look inside the “readers’ page” from NYTimes Letter-to-the-Editor editor Tom Feyer

“The process of [the Electoral College] election affords a moral certainty” The Federalist Papers, Number 68. And a Petition.

For you, Talker buys the D & C digital archives. And Noam Chomsky

Nighan makes print edition of The Atlantic by nominating Kaiser Wilhelm II as the Worst Leader of All Time

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


Like what you see on our site? We’d appreciate your support. Please donate today.

Featured Posts


%d bloggers like this: