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With votes cast up through Tuesday, a decision will be made on the president of the United States for the next four years. That decision, for decades, has been determined by the Electoral College.
That system has come under some criticism in recent weeks leading to the election. Wichita State University political science professor Mel Kahn says the popular vote is not a reasonable fix to those concerns.
"If we had a popular vote that was very, very close, we would have to have recounts and court challenges throughout the entire nation, because even states that a candidate won, he would be trying to up his vote, trying to diminish the vote of his opponent," Kahn said. "It would be a grand mess."
Kahn calls it the "estimated popular vote" because there is no precise count - marred by "errors galore."
Some mistakes are honest, as poll workers pull lengthy shifts to finish the count. Other votes are skewed on purpose - from "vote prostitutes" in Texas that steal ballots to votes cast by the deceased.
Recounts and recalls with a popular vote could string the final result out for months, making treaties and business with other countries difficult to enforce.
For its criticisms, the Electoral College avoids chaos, Kahn said. There is a "geometrical margin" of victory, creating a differential among several states. That keeps one fraudulent voting state from mucking up the outcome.
"What the Electoral College has done for a period of over 225 years, it has given us decisive decision, and we have had a smooth transition, which is a great advantage compared to many countries in the world," Kahn said. "Overall, we've done a very good job on that."
Kahn discussed the Electoral College, as well as the differences in the platform of Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama, on KFDI's "At Issue" program. A copy of the podcast can be found here.