Don't abolish the Electoral CollegeBrian Walton's June 5...

the Forum

June 11, 1993

Don't abolish the Electoral College

Brian Walton's June 5 letter does not give strong reasons for ending this unique but successful method of presidential selection in the Electoral College.

Yes, the House of Representatives chooses the president if the Electoral College fails to award a majority to any candidate. But as Mr. Walton indicates, the last time that happened was in 1824, almost 170 years ago, when the country did not have two political parties.

And yes it is possible for the winner in the Electoral College to get fewer popular votes than his opponent. But this, too, has not happened since 1888.

Few people believed last July that Ross Perot dropped out of the race because the House of Representatives might have to decide the election. Even fewer believed it when he re-entered in October.

There was nothing "definite," as Mr. Walton states, about the 1992 election being thrown into the House. Although Mr. Perot's 19 percent of the vote was impressive, he did not win one state, and came in second in just two small states. The Electoral College worked in spite of Perot.

As to the "near crisis" of a House selection if more than two candidates run, the Electoral College has survived more serious third and sometimes fourth party challenges than Ross Perot's.

In the elections of 1860, 1912, 1924, 1948 and 1968 third and fourth party candidates actually won states but failed to prevent a winning majority in electoral votes.

Mr. Walton's arguments for a direct election are not strong. He believes candidates would campaign in all states to receive popular votes. Just the opposite would occur, as candidates ignored smaller states to concentrate on those with larger population.

What candidate would try to get even 60 percent of North Dakota and Wyoming, representing a margin of only a few thousand votes over their opponent, when getting as little as 52 percent of California and New York would give them a margin of millions?

The fact that the Electoral College gives all its electoral votes to the winner of a state and none to the loser makes it more attractive for a candidate to campaign there. For this reason alone, small states will oppose changing the presidential election procedure.

David Cuneo

Reisterstown

Flexible sentence

With the murder of Francine Harris at the hand of convicted killer and inmate Rodney Stokes, it is time we all re-examine just what "life in prison" really means.

"Life in prison" does not mean what most law-abiding citizens believe it does. It does not even come close.

Time off for good behavior, being "cooperative" in jail and other "rewards" can help a lifer get released on parole in just 10 to 15 years -- hardly a life sentence.

For those lifers sent to the much-coveted Patuxent Institution -- yes, contrary to popular belief, lifers are still being sent there -- inmates are entitled to art classes and college courses.

At Patuxent, where inmates receive "counseling" and "therapy," they can be let out even sooner.

A case in point. The young man who killed my stepbrother, Carl Krogmann, received a transfer to Patuxent after being sentenced to life plus 20 years for murder.

When our family found this out -- after the fact, of course, because prison officials only have to notify you, not notify you ahead of time -- we were told young Arthur Miles would be eligible for parole in just 11 1/2 years.

But the worst part is that this "lifer" could be back on the street even sooner -- he is eligible for work release in 4 1/2 years -- just 7 1/2 years after committing his heinous crime.

Kendra L. Roberts

Catonsville

Domestic solutions

Your May 28 story, "More action urged on domestic crimes," hit home.

If one were to research these domestic disputes, one would find alcohol or other drugs as the lubricant for altercations.

The state, city and county want to lock up the loved ones of the victims but fail many times to get these victims to co-operate. Cooperation would be available from all parties involved if treatment, instead of jail, was the other option. Treatment would work toward a cure instead of an expensive temporary Band-Aid like jail.

There is talk of a drug court. Why not a domestic arbitration committee that would evaluate the participants in these disputes and make treatment recommendations before cases are tried in court? If the parties cooperate, then all the charges would be steted.

The domestic arbitration board and treatment would not only be cheaper than incarceration but certainly would lower the recidivism in the long run. Incarceration only serves to keep the perpetrator off the street short-term, while treatment allows continued support and help for victims and their loved ones.

Amy E. Jones

Baltimore

Big mistake

Mayor Schmoke's administration has made the biggest mistake of its tenure by initiating a residency requirement for new municipal workers and police personnel. The city stands to lose many extraordinary individuals because they prefer the county's lifestyle to the city's.

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