PERSPECTIVErnVoting Behind the Veil of Ignorancernby Thomas FlemingrnEvery four years our politieal intellectuals kick off the presidentialrncampaign season by putting forward proposalsrnto reform the system by which Americans choose their leaders.rnThe will of the people has been frustrated by all this elaboraternmachinery of voter registration, party primaries, and mediarnhype, so they say, and those few who have some dim recollectionrnof American history can point to the occasions on whichrna President’s election was clouded by doubt: John QuincyrnAdams, whose victory over Andrew Jackson was engineeredrnby Henry Clay in the House of Representatives; Rutherford B.rnHayes, who only secured election by cutting certain deals,rnmost notoriously with the \4ide Hampton forces in SouthrnCarolina. Most recent and most hushed-up is the dubiousrnelection of John F. Kennedy, whose victory depended uponrnthe key states of Illinois and Texas, delivered to him on a platterrnby the masters of machine polities, Richard Daley andrnLyndon Johnson. A less patriotic man than Mr. Nixon mightrnhave plunged the United States into civil strife by protestingrnthe results—Julius Caesar staged a coup d’etat with less justification.rnBut the ease that is most often brought up as an indictmentrnof the system is the relatively benign example of BenjaminrnHarrison, who lost the popular vote but won the electoralrnvote by a narrow margin. This proves, we are told inrncivics classes and on CNN talk shows, the essential unfairnessrnof the electoral college. The principles of true democracyrnarc trivialized and even contraverted by this outmodedrnconstitutional impediment to the will of the people as expressedrnby the majority.rnThe grand illusion of modern times is that there are technicalrnsolutions to moral and political problems. If only werncould find some device, some new system, we could escape therntrammels of sin, ignorance, and sloth. The framers did theirrnbest to design a process of installing an honorable and independentrnman as the nation’s chief executive, but their methodrnwas redesigned by the party fixers and managers who alwaysrnrise to the top in a system with pretensions to democracy.rnAs the system works today, voters are allowed to choose arnslate of statewide presidential electors and that slate winning arnmajority, no matter how slim, will command the entire electoralrnstrength of the state. If 51 percent of California’s votersrnwho happen to turn out in November pick Mr. Clinton, thenrnthe votes of the other 49 percent will, perforce, be thrown intornthe balance, and Clinton will receive all of California’srnelectoral votes.rnThis general ticket system is not prescribed by the Constitution,rnwhich says only (Article II, Section I) that:rnEach State shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislaturernthereof may direct, a number of Electors, equalrnto the whole Number of Senators and Representativesrnto which the State may be entitled in the Congress.rnThe 12th Amendment, drawn up to reform the selection ofrnthe Vice-President, does not materially alter this process.rnThe framers did not regard their handiwork as the inspiredrncreation of demigods but as a jury-rigged device patched togetherrnto meet the objections that had been raised to everyrnother method of selection. Selection by the Congress, it was argued,rnwould make the President a creature of the Congress,rn10/CHRONICLESrnrnrn