Magazine article Insight on the News
Issue of Voter Scam May Dog 2000 Elections
In theory, democracy, from the ancient Greek word demos, means rule by the people. Democracy in practice, however, often means finding ways to manipulate, divert and thwart what the people want. One such emergency brake put in place to stop democracy, when needed, is the Electoral College. Since, as some predicted, one presidential candidate appears to have won the popular vote while the other appears to have won a majority in the Electoral College, it has been a prime topic on the lips of pundits.
The Founding Fathers, in a time when rule by mass voting was almost untried, made no bones about the Electoral College's purpose: It was to prevent the corrupt and charismatic -- those with "talents for low intrigue and the little arts of popularity," as Alexander Hamilton described them in the Federalist No. 68 -- from becoming president.
"It will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried," wrote James Madison in the Federalist No. 10. "The Electoral College and related constitutional checks and balances," he continued, "would protect against the diseases most incident to republican government. These would prevent popular election to the presidency of factious leaders who might degenerate our politics into issues such as a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property or for any other improper or wicked project." Sound familiar?
Also, recall that in the early days of the republic, the franchise was in most places limited to those who were male, white, age 21 and property owners. From Reconstruction until recently, poll taxes and literacy tests were used to restrict voting by blacks. Today those who have been convicted of felonies or deemed mentally ill are in some states prohibited from voting. But the Democratic Party, seeing these groups as likely to vote for its candidates, is working hard to enfranchise such people, although it has not taken the next logical step of working to restore the Second Amendment right of such people to own firearms.
The Clinton/Gore administration also pushed through motor-voter legislation, which enabled those who sought a driver's license, vehicle registration or welfare to register to vote at government offices -- again, prime potential Democratic voters. …