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Replace the Electoral College
Regarding Ms. Towler's Urban Journal, "Now should we get rid of the Electoral College?" (December 21, 2016) The answer is a loud, clear, and unqualified "Yes !"
The case for retaining the EC boils down to nothing more than that this is the way we've always elected our presidents. Claims that moving to a direct election will disadvantage small states don't stand up to scrutiny.
For example, 57 percent of the 2016 campaign events were held in just four electoral vote-rich swing states (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio). And a whopping 94 percent of these events were held in just 12 states, of which only one, New Hampshire, was a small state.
Thus there's far more reason to assume that a candidate will ignore states with small electoral counts than they would in a direct election where EVERY voter's ballot, regardless of which state it came from, would have equal value.
Interestingly enough, even President-elect Trump has stated that, "The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy. ... A total sham and a travesty." And, "I would rather see it, where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win. There's a reason for doing this. Because it brings all the states into play."
As to claims that a direct election will breed horrific nationwide recounts, even close elections tend to be the result of narrow votes in only a few states. And as all states have rules to implement recounts if vote differentials fall within set percentages, such recounts would not be triggered any more frequently under direct election than they have been under the Electoral College.
Finally, while a constitutional amendment would eliminate the Electoral College, a viable alternative, the National Popular Vote plan, is closer to hand. Under the NPV, signatory states agree to cast their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote rather than for the winner of their state contests.
The plan will take effect once states with a total of 270 electoral votes have signed on. To date, 10 states totaling 165 electoral votes, including New York, have agreed to the plan.
Good luck! There have been over 700 proposals introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College. In 1969, an amendment that passed overwhelmingly in the House (338 to 70) and had the endorsement of President Richard Nixon was filibustered and killed in the Senate. Not going to happen, unfortunately.
Segregated schools fuel racism
Regarding the opinion presented in "Charters create a separate, unequal system," (Feedback, December 21, 2016), the author suggests that the emergence of charter schools has led to the type of segregated school system that the 1953 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling sought to eliminate.
However, charter schools exist precisely because the issue of unequal schools has not been addressed since the Brown decision. In fact, the segregation we now see in cities such as Rochester is often more severe than it was in the 50's.
This race-based opportunity gap is undoubtedly one of the drivers of the racism that continues to pervade our country, and consequently has become the target of many well-meaning and strong educators.
Of course we would all love to have a public education system that as the author said includes "all Americans equally." Many in our city have, and continue to make, great efforts toward this goal. However, we cannot wait around for people to "get together to fix it" while our children are passing through schools without realizing the amazing potential they have.
Charter schools serve the same population as our city schools, and it would be great if we could someday have one strong school system.
However, if we are ever going to see the end of educational inequity as was proclaimed in the Brown decision, we cannot waste time with political arguments and must invest in what works. The students are already there ready to learn, and each one deserves the best we can give them.
The State Legislature seems to be getting closer to allowing ridesharing Upstate ("Waiting for Uber dreams to come true," December 28, 2016).
These services add some convenience, but don't do much to reduce the number of cars on the road or address causes of climate change. A better idea and actual solution to more problems would be an amazing public transportation system.
For nearly 15 years, I have tried to make RTS my ride to and from work. I imagined reading a good book on the bus and arriving to work relaxed. In 15 years I could never make the bus schedule work for me. A mile walk at either end of my commute and times that didn't come close to meeting my schedule were total roadblocks for me.
Imagine if Rochester had kept and continually improved the subway it had. Just imagine what an amazing public transportation system Rochester could have today.
As much as I would like better mass transit, the sprawl in the area has created a problem. Coverage vs. quality. Also, RTS doesn't run past bar-closing times, which is a major part of Uber.
The taxis would have nothing to fear from Uber if they ever showed up when you call their office. I've waited for taxis that have never shown multiple times. That's what people want from Uber: dependability.