November 2, 2000

Campaign 2000: Your Vote Is Important

By April Blackmon

KSU News Service

On Nov. 7, voters in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., will go to the polls to vote for the next president of the
United States. Instead of directly naming the president, however, the results will be telling a set of electors how
to vote on behalf of the state.

"Bush and Gore are going to be on the ballot, but what you wonít see are the six people who will vote for those
individuals," said Joseph Unekis, associate professor of political science at Kansas State University.

Those six people are members of the electoral college, the one-time elite chosen by the people to vote for
president.

Average citizens may wonder why it is the electoral collegeís vote that ultimately chooses the president and not
the peopleís vote. To understand the function and purpose of the electoral college, Unekis said we must look
back to the roots of Americaís history.

"The electoral college was created because the founding fathers didnít want the central government to have
power to elect a president. They also didnít trust the people to make the decision ó partly because of poor
communication and partly because they didnít trust the average citizenís capacity to handle such a
responsibility," he said.

Holding up under enormous strains throughout its history, including depressions, world wars, the Civil War, great
population expansions and great economic changes, the college has produced acceptable winners in 51 of the 53
U.S. presidential elections, according to Unekis.

Although rare in American history, some concerns ó namely faithless electors and minority winners ó have
prompted calls to reform or replace the college, Unekis said.

"Thereís a possibility for a faithless elector ó an elector who doesnít vote the way he or she originally said,"
said Unekis, "But this has happened rarely in the nationís history and none of those have had any influence on
the electionís outcome," he said.

Thereís also a possibility for a minority winner ó a winner of the electoral vote who did not win the popular vote.
Unekis said popular votes in each state cannot be used to predict an overall winner.

"The popular vote only counts in Kansas to determine Kansasí electors. Itís misleading to add those scores up,"
Unekis said. "How you vote in Kansas has nothing to do with what happens in Missouri or any place else. Itís
like taking football scores and saying the 44 points we scored against Colorado determine whether or not we won
or lost that one game. If we kept adding the scores up on all of our games, at the end of the season, is that a
meaningful number? No, itís just the total points we scored."

Although the electoral college votes for president, an individualís vote is still important in determining how the
college should represent the stateís overall opinion, Unekis said.