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Editorial

The wheels grind slowly, but they are still moving

The electoral college.

Bah. Some college. They don't even have a decent football team.

Naturally, there is more behind the Election Day That Will Not Die than the electoral college, but the whole thing points out how antiquated the system has become.

The electoral college is the product of educated colonials who feared letting ignorant people elect the president.

America has outgrown the electoral college. This is not to suggest that there are, per capita, fewer ignorant people than there were in 1787. We have just evolved to the point where we realize that, in a free society, being ignorant is one of our inalienable rights.

It was also supposed to keep larger states from dominating the election, drowning out their smaller neighbors. That made sense in a world of sharply contrasting regional interests where you were likely a Virginian first and an American second.

However, the selection of the president reflects, or it should, the will of the people -- not the states.

Everyone knows the electoral college is outdated, but getting rid of it never seemed a big priority. In most presidential elections, it was in perfect unison with the popular vote.

This election shows that it has the potential of being a genuine nuisance. Between protecting the environment and preserving Social Security, our nation ought to take a few minutes to pass an amendment to jettison the electoral college once and for all.

Having said all that, it doesn't bother us that the presidential election took a little longer than usual this year. There is no crisis, except the one created by a bunch of journalists, pundits and assorted other talking heads trying to fill air time.

Predictably, boths sides are playing politics. Especially the Bush camp. Bush aides say Gore should take the high road and concede, much like Nixon in 1960.

Of course, with Gore ahead in the popular vote, Bush has the option of taking that road himself.

Bush adviser Jim Baker said recounting some of the ballots by hand invites "mischief."

Don Homuth of Polk County would disagree with that.

He participated in two election recounts, first in Minnesota in 1986 and then in 1988 in Oregon's Fifth Congressional District.

"In each case, the recount looked carefully at ballots that had previously been rejected by the counting machines, and in each case we found instances where despite the machine's rejection, the intent of the voter was indeed clear and the vote was counted," Homuth said.

At all times, changes made during the recount were agreed upon by both the Republican and Democratic observers. In those cases where there was disagreement, the ballots were placed in a separate pile as "challenged" ballots -- subject to determination by the court.

So let's all calm down.

There is nothing wrong with taking the time to make sure the duly elected candidate gets sworn in come January.

No matter what the rest of the world says.

America has taken more than its share of mocking from other countries over the prolonged election.

France, South Africa, Argentina, Germany and Cuba are among those weighing in with their opinions.

"As with most American products, the battle for the White House showed the country's flair for turning molehills into mountains," the Times of India proclaimed.

Over in England (the country once known as Great Britain), the Times of London called the election "a parody of democracy."

London's Daily Mirror called America "a laughing stock…It can't make up its mind who should be its president."

Of all the nerve!

None of these countries -- especially places like South Africa, India and Cuba -- are in any position to lecture the United States about how to run a democratic nation.

We taught most of them how it is done.

England is a tiny nation that would fit comfortably in less space than the Willamette Valley. America does awfully well considering its size and population.

The fact that we take the time to get it right and follow the requirements of our Constitution speaks volumes about the state of representative government in this country.

There is no crisis. No chaos. No one storming the White House with bayonets. What squalling can be heard is simply the robust and lively sound of a free people exercising their vocal cords.

The system may not have worked fast this time around, but it worked.

Other countries should be so lucky. And if they are, it's probably because they followed our example.

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