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Direct elections would attract attention

October 03, 2004|by Blanton Croft, Hagerstown

To the editor:

Washington County voters and the entire state of Maryland should be concerned about the lack of attention given to our votes in the presidential race. As a long-time conscientious voter, I feel we are "out of the loop," as the two major candidates are taking us for granted. Why is this phenomenon occurring?

Political analysts have labeled us a given "Blue" state, along with 11 others plus the District of Columbia (see "Bush Opens Lead Over Kerry in Seesaw Election Campaign," Herald-Mail, Sunday, Sept. 5, A10). Consequently, neither political party seems to care enough about our votes to schedule any kind of statewide campaign or rally.

All campaign money is spent on the battleground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. It seems that both national campaign managers are calling the shots and none of them are being directed toward the Maryland voters.

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Campaign strategies of this kind do nothing to persuade the uninformed and unmotivated voters to vote in presidential elections. History has shown an increasingly lower percentage of turnout when special states are targeted such as the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. If we are truly democratic, then why shouldn't the entire country be included?

This type of campaign once again raises serious questions on the validity of the Electoral College system. The simplest solution proposed, direct election, has been submitted to Congress well over 100 times, but never taken that seriously.

Direct election is a system that guarantees all of the people actually have a vote for the candidate of their choice. There is no need for electors to vote for us in today's enlightened society. With direct election, there would be no "battleground states" where all the campaigning is done while other states are ignored.

Direct election guarantees that the candidate with the most votes is elected president. As it is the same "winner-take-all" system now used in the 50 states, the national totals for any candidate would be the sole determinant of who wins the White House. Maryland votes would become just as important as Ohio's or Florida's. The present campaign is saturating Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, etc. with all of the campaigning thus giving those voters greater insights and positions on the candidates while leaving Marylanders on the sidelines to figure it out for ourselves.

Direct election of the president would once and for all stop the election of a popular vote minority candidate as the 2000 vote totals show. Al Gore won the most votes, yet didn't win the White House.

Will there be any change of campaign strategy during the remaining days until Nov. 2? Certainly not if one can believe political writers such as Ron Fournier, the author of the previously cited article. "The race is spread over the battleground states with the fiercest competition in Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico and Pennsylvania."

So where does this leave Marylanders? Apparently nowhere of political importance in the campaign of 2004. To paraphrase the late and great Ronald Reagan's 1984 attacks on the Democrats: "Here we go again."

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