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Heymatt:

How do I get to be a member of the electoral college?

-- Smokeless, the net

Good SATs and four years of glee club? No�let's try a $2000 suit, $500 shoes. Plenty of friends in high political circles. Money to donate to your candidate, or better yet to the candidate you're sure will win. Those may or may not be the same people. If you pick the wrong horse, you'll end up back in beauty college, not electoral college.

So Smokeless manages to get his/her/its name on the California ballot as a candidate for president of the U.S. After the Smokelesses are through slapping their foreheads in disbelief at this ugly turn of events, it's time to submit to the election chief in Sacramento a list of people who will be his/her/its official electors should the unthinkable happen and our pal Smokeless actually beat all other presidential candidates here. Every official candidate must do the same. These people can be anyone Smokeless would like to name, so start sucking up now. The only exceptions would be (for example) Duke Cunningham and the Smokelesses mail carrier. They're ineligible because electors can't be in Congress or be employed by the federal guv'mint. Add up the number of a state's U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives to get the total number of electors that state gets.

Should Smokeless make more and bigger empty promises than his rivals and wins the election, his electors win a free trip to Sacramento in December. Everybody else's electors stay home. Here's where the actual votes are cast for president and vice-president, just like they told you in civics class. The vote total is passed on to the president of the U.S. Senate, who announces it officially on January 6. At least this is how it's supposed to work, with a few state-by-state variations. Of course, if they let Florida participate in the next presidential election, all bets are off.

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