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No More College …

A former state representative says Tennessee is getting shorted by the Electoral College.

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I am proud to join Senator Fred Thompson in a bipartisan campaign to make sure that the candidate who gets the most votes wins the presidency.

Thompson has signed on as a co-champion of the National Popular Vote campaign, which aims to reform, not eliminate, our electoral system. We join all political parties in supporting an effort that rises above partisan politics.

The critics say if we award the presidency to the candidate who gets the most votes, we would:

• Damage state sovereignty.

• Defy the Founding Fathers.

• Give big cities control over the outcome.

With all due respect to the well-meaning critics, those dogs don't hunt. The facts get in the way.

Fact: State sovereignty drives a popular vote system: A popular vote system is, in fact, a true exercise of state sovereignty, not a threat to it. The decision to adopt popular vote is made not in Congress or elsewhere in Washington but at the state level.

Fact: The Founding Fathers gave us latitude: The Founders, in their wisdom, made it clear, in Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution: "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors."

It's highly unlikely that the Founders would approve of the system today, which leaves all but a few states ignored because they don't have the most electoral votes.

Fact: Big cities don't carry the biggest stick: Another interesting fact that critics ignore is this: The five biggest U.S. cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and Philadelphia) represent only 6 percent of the American population. They couldn't elect a president by themselves, even if every voter in every precinct in every one of those cities voted for the same candidate.

Similarly, the 25 largest cities  account for only 12 percent of the U.S. population, while 81 percent of the nation's population lives in cities with less than 363,000 people — places like Morristown or Monterey. With a popular vote system, candidates would be foolish to ignore those areas.

Fact: Tennessee is ignored as a "flyover state": In 2008, Tennessee got exactly one presidential candidate visit. Even though Tennesseans contributed nearly $8 million to the campaigns, the candidates spent a mere $9,955 in our state on advertising during the peak season. That's out of a total $160 million spent by the campaigns nationwide.

When every vote counts: Tennesseans want to see this changed. In a statewide poll conducted just last month, 83 percent expressed their support for awarding the presidency to the candidate who receives the most votes. Every demographic in the state, including members of both political parties, is overwhelmingly in favor of awarding the presidency to the candidate who gets the most votes.

There's a sound, constitutional way to do it. Here's how it works:

• States that have a total of 270 electoral votes — the number it takes to elect a president — join a popular vote compact.

• When the popular vote is counted election night, the candidate receiving the most votes in all 50 states is awarded the compact's 270 votes, thereby ensuring his or her election.

A few partisan radicals might want to keep the system as is, but the rest of Tennessee wants their votes to count.

Put partisan politics aside and think about the future.

Dennis Ferguson of Harriman, Tennessee, is a former state representative who served as House majority leader.

This column was sent to the Flyer as a response to lask week's Viewpoint by John Ryder advocating the retention of the Electoral College for presidential elections.

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