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Electoral College certifies Carter today

By WASHINGTON, Jan. 6, 1977 (UPI)-The end of the Electoral College has been sought for decades but today it is alive and kicking and ready to perform its final function of the 1976 presidential election at a joint session of Congress.

By tradition, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller was to preside in the House chamber during the count certifying the 538 electoral votes officially cast Dec. 13 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Two House members and two senators tally the certificates of votes from each state in alphabetical order.

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Then, barring unexpected objection, the Rockefeller announcement: Jimmy Carter had 297 votes, Gerald R. Ford 240 and Ronald Reagan one, and Carter had been elected president and Walter Mondale vice president.

When Americans went to the polls Nov. 2, they were actually picking electors who promised to cast their ballot for a given candidate. This they did in December in their home states, with one GOP maverick elector voting for Reagan in the state of Washington.

For at least 10 years, proposed constitutional amendments to wipe out the Electoral College have been introduced at the start of each new Congress.

Some were introduced perfunctorily Tuesday, when the 95th Congress officially convened and were just as perfunctorily referred to Senate and House Judiciary Committees as in years past.

No serious effort has ever been generated to move to amendments beyond committee hearing stages to congressional passage but each new Congress has seen a growing body of bipartisan support for change of some kind.

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The chief objection is that unless a candidate gets a majority-270-of he electoral votes, then the election of a new president is decided in the House of Representatives.

The prospect of 435 congressmen trying to reach agreement on a new president, while Senate, under the Constitution, would be electing a vice president and possibly of the opposite party, has given nightmares to professional politicians.

The main obstacle to change has been controversy over how to replace the ancient system. One persistent plan would simply decide the winner by popular vote, requiring a minimum percentage of the total votes.

Under the present system, a candidate could lose the popular vote but still get more electoral votes and win the election.

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