Americans prefer elections to be clear-cut, decisive and free of legal challenges. The 2000 presidential campaign failed that test on all counts.
It wasn't until a Dec. 12 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Florida's ballots that it became clear George W. Bush had won enough electoral votes to win the election even though he lost the popular vote.
Fast-forward to the 2004 presidential election and the U.S. electorate has another race that promises to be just as tight as the Gore-Bush contest of 2000. Voters who recall the Florida fiasco may want clarity in this presidential election but another state -- Colorado -- just may be the one to muck things up in this race.
Colorado voters may pass a Nov. 2 ballot initiative that calls for proportional distribution of the state's eight electoral votes. The Colorado measure, if passed, would apply retroactively to the 2004 election. Most states follow the winner-take-all method with only Maine and Nebraska giving votes to the winners of each congressional district.
In a tight election this could result in a political Rocky Mountain nightmare.
For starters, the initiative should have been written to go into effect in the 2008 election so there would be time to iron out any legal challenges without possibly throwing the results of the 2004 election into doubt.
It's a good bet that if the margin between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry is decided by Colorado's electoral votes there will be a legal challenge of the initiative.
Bill Whalen of the Weekly Standard magazine wrote "Opponents claim the initiative violates provisions in the state Constitution that prohibit retroactive legislation; it's supporters claim to have found case law that supports some retroactive legislation."
The last thing the U.S. needs is another divisive election followed by a controversial court decision to determine the next White House occupant.
Although the Electoral College has its faults it does require candidates to pay attention to all the states and not just conduct their campaigns in the most populous ones. Small states realize the Electoral College gives them more clout then their population might warrant under a different system. As a result, any attempts at a constitutional amendment to throw the system out would almost certainly be met with defeat.
Maybe Colorado's electoral votes won't come into play in the presidential race but if this election gets thrown into the court system Coloradans may be subjected to the same sort of derision and criticism that was aimed at Florida after the "hanging chad" election of 2000.
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