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November 14, 2000

CSUS Employee Has Part
In Historic Election

With all the controversy surrounding one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, it's quite an exciting time to be a part of the Electoral College.

Just ask Elsa Favila, an administrative analyst in the CSUS academic affairs office.

Favila was appointed an elector for the first time this year by the Democratic Party - specifically, by brother-in-law Rudy Favila, a former city council member from Ontario who just lost his bid for a Congressional seat from the 41st district. On Dec. 18, she'll be among 538 electors nationwide officially casting presidential votes at their state capitals.

"I was thrilled to be chosen," says Favila, a long-time Democrat. "It was a big honor." Usually, it's an honor of little interest to anyone but the political parties and the electors themselves.

But as Florida struggled to get an accurate vote count last week and the possibility grew that the candidate who won the popular vote might not win the presidency, Favila and other electors grabbed plenty of attention.

The state Democratic Party wrote Favila to make sure she knew Electoral College voting would indeed take place Dec. 18, despite rumors to the contrary. She was interviewed by local television and radio stations.

She even got calls from CNN and the Associated Press, both of which were polling electors to see if any were considering not voting for their party's candidate.

Favila says that isn't even a possibility in her case. "I would never change my vote. I think that would be unethical," she says. "I was chosen because I've always been a loyal party member.

As anyone paying attention to the news is now well aware, U.S. presidents are not chosen directly by voters. Rather, voters in each state choose indirectly by voting for the party's designated electors, whose number is determined by the number of representatives the state has in each house of Congress. The electors then vote for president. In all states except Maine and Nebraska, the process is winner-take-all.

Traditionally, and in many states legally, electors are to vote for their party's candidate.

But they don't always. And although it has never happened, it is possible that "faithless electors" could change the outcome.

Such a possibility has led Electoral College critics to call for an end to the system. They've been joined this year by those upset that the next president may not be the winner of the popular vote, which hasn't happened since 1888.

Favila, though, says the Electoral College remains the important check against presidents pandering to one region of the country and against momentary "passions" of the majority.

"My feeling is that sometimes the passions of the people are not always rational," she says. "The electoral college is an important check on that, which is why we should keep it."

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