John C. Chalberg makes a tightly reasoned if ultimately unconvincing argument in favor of the Electoral College (“The much-denigrated Electoral College does its job,” Opinion Exchange, Oct. 29). Indeed, it is the best such effort I’ve seen among the many attempts to smear lipstick on this particular pig. The defect that makes the Electoral College so odious is that, excepting only Maine and Nebraska, states vote their electoral votes in a block. My suggestion: Require states to submit electoral votes in proportion, to the nearest whole vote, to the popular vote in that state. Even deep red North Dakota would be obliged to have one of its three votes go blue. Similarly, California would need to submit some Republican votes to represent the many Californians who vote that way.
The advantage of this tweak in the Electoral College is that it would truly do what Chalberg claims for the Electoral College: Require politicians to appeal to voters no matter where they reside. No more “battleground” states to be overwhelmed by politicking. No more elections decided by a few voters in a single county in Florida. Alas, this tweak would likely require a constitutional amendment, making it as hard as doing what would be best: abolishing the doggone thing altogether.
James Watson, Maplewood
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Without question, Chalberg is a far better student of the Electoral College than I. But I do know a few things and I think his use of original language obfuscates its meaning.
First, the founders did not trust the electorate, even though composed of fellow white male landowners, to always make good decisions. If in the eyes of the leaders they thought a really bad decision had been made, they wanted a circuit breaker — the Electoral College.
It has been recently argued to me that the purpose of the Electoral College was to protect citizens from less populated regions from the tyranny of highly populated (liberal) urban centers. I’m quite sure that is not what the founders had in mind. At the time of our founding the vast majority of citizens were rural and agrarian. Our preindustrial founders had no way to anticipate the rise of cities.
The last I heard it was citizens who vote, not the land.
Gregory Hestness, Minneapolis
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It’s rarely mentioned, but the most important benefit of the Electoral College is that it prevents wide-scale cheating. Consider the following scenario if we changed the presidential election to a popular vote. It’s 2028, and we’re in Massachusetts, where the Democrats control all the state apparatus for recording and counting the votes. They remember 2024, when the Republicans in Alabama reported an unbelievable margin of victory for the Republican presidential candidate, and there are rumors that the Republicans plan to do it again. Are we to believe that the Democrats would not engage in cheating to offset the Republican cheating?
Under our present system, there is no motivation to run up the vote totals in states that are solidly blue or red. The only states where cheating might influence the outcome are a handful of swing states. Yet those are precisely the states where the Democrats and Republicans are almost equal in strength, and the attention of the national press is focused. Both of those factors make cheating difficult, and so our citizens believe the election results, even when the differences are razor-thin.
Ray Dillon, Minneapolis
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Chalberg’s opinion in Thursday’s Star Tribune is that the Electoral College did its job. No. In a true democracy it is not fair or just to award the presidency to the popular vote loser. He ignores the fact that far fewer people are represented by one electoral vote in Utah than in California, for example. That gives the citizens of Utah more power in the Electoral College. In my view, this is proof the Electoral College no longer works.
Warren Blechert, Brooklyn Park
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It is always a pleasure to see Chalberg’s insightful explorations of American history in the Star Tribune opinion pages.
My late brother and I were fortunate enough to have been students of his at Normandale Community College in the 1990s. Chalberg inspired each of us to continue studying history. While I never became an American history professor, as was my goal after taking his introductory class at 18, I continued to read and learn from our history throughout my life and to have reasonable and respectful discussions on serious subjects through this lens. All this was inspired by Mr. Chalberg, truly evidence of the value of an outstanding educator. I know my brother would feel the same, as years ago whenever one of us would see Chalberg’s byline in your paper we would immediately call the other. Thank you all!
Dave Hoenack, Minneapolis
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Chalberg states Trump was rightly elected because his support was more widespread vs. Clinton’s concentrated support. This is as ridiculous as stating our governor should be determined by whose votes are more widespread (rural) rather than a candidate whose support is more concentrated (urban) and a greater total number.
When a state like Wyoming gets one electoral vote per less than 200,000 residents while a state like California gets one vote for every 700,000 residents, this is an unjust system that is long past serving its purpose. Whatever happened to one person, one vote? The electoral college needs to be scrapped, or the formula radically changed to reflect the will of the American voters, regardless of the states’ populations.
Karl Samp, Brainerd, Minn.
We need to fix our budget problem
A recent Star Tribune article highlighted promises from Gov. Tim Walz and Democratic legislators to pursue tax hikes next session to address Minnesota’s budget deficit (“Walz: Every option on table for deficit,” front page, Oct. 28). They talk about closing “corporate loopholes” as if that alone will be the magic bullet to fill a $5 billion budget hole.
The reality is those so-called loopholes would only solve a fraction of the problem. If Democrats are in charge of the Legislature next year, there’s no doubt that tax increases are coming — and they’ll hit every family no matter their income level. As a former Minnetonka Beach City Council member and finance liaison, I’m no stranger to tough decisions and working to eliminate wasteful spending in a taxpayer-funded budget. It’s going to take all 201 legislators next year working together to find ways to reduce spending — tax increases should be a last resort, particularly tax increases on businesses who are struggling just to survive this winter.
This Election Day, I hope you’ll vote for candidates who will look out for taxpayers first — and make sure your tax dollars are respected at the Capitol.
Andrew Myers, Tonka Bay
The writer is a candidate for District 33B in the Minnesota House.
Goodbye to more of what we love
The demise of the City Pages this week should be a warning — like the canary in the coal mine — that this pandemic is not only taking lives and shuttering businesses, but it is also changing the very culture, texture and uniqueness of the cities and communities in which we live (“City Pages to close as COVID kills revenue,” Oct. 29). One can agree or disagree with the viewpoints and biases of this alternative newspaper, but I for one believe that the loss of different and diverse opinions hurts us all.
I love the Twin Cities. But Minneapolis, St. Paul and all of the surrounding communities just became a lot less cool and a lot less edgy. RIP, City Pages. You will be missed.
David McCuskey, Long Lake
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