The Trouble with the Electoral College


In a fair democracy everyone’s vote should
count equally, but the method that the United States uses to elect its president, called
the electoral college, violates this principle by making sure that some people’s votes are
more equal than others. The Electoral College is, essentially, the
538 votes that determine who wins the presidency. If these votes were split evenly across the
population every 574,000 people would be represented by one vote. But that’s not what happens because the Electoral
College doesn’t give votes to people, only states. Which has some unfair consequences. For example there are 11,500,000 people in
Ohio so, to fairly represent them, it should get 20 electoral votes. But the Electoral
college doesn’t give Ohio 20 votes, it only gets 18 — two less than it should. Where’d those other votes go? To states like
Rhode Island. Plucky Rhode Island has 1.1 million people
in it, so it should have about two votes, but instead it gets four! Those extra two votes that should be representing
Ohioans go to representing Rhode Islanders instead? Why? Because, according to the rules of the electoral
college, every state, no matter how few people live there, gets three votes to start with
before the rest are distributed according to population. Because of this rule there are a lot of states
with a few people that should only have one or two votes for president but instead get
three or four. So Georgians, Virginians, Michiganders & Jerseyites
are each missing one vote, Pennsylvanians, North Carolinians, Ohioans
& Hoosiers are missing two, Floridians are missing 4, New Yorkers, 5, Texans 6, and Californians
are 10 short of what they should get. Because of this vote redistribution, the Electoral
College essentially pretends that fewer people live where they do and more people live where
they don’t. An American who lives in one of these states,
has their vote for president count for less than an American who lives in one of these
states. In some cases the Electoral College bends
the results just a little, but if you live in a particularly large or small state, it
bends them a lot. One Vermonter’s vote, according to the Electoral
College is worth three Texans’ votes. And one Wyomingite’s vote is worth four Californians’. Now, hold on there son, you might be saying
to yourself right now: you’re missing the whole point of the electoral college. It’s
to protect the small states from the big states. Give the small states more voting power and
the presidential candidates will have to pay them more attention in an election. If that’s the goal of the electoral college,
it’s failing spectacularly. Here’s a graph showing the number of visits
the presidential Candidates paid to each of the states in the last two months of the previous
election. If it looks like there are a few states missing,
you’re right. Only 18 of the 50 states received even a single visit from a candidate. And
just two of those states, Mane and New Hampshire have very small populations. The area of the country with the most small
states is conspicuously missing. The Electoral College doesn’t make candidates
care about small states. But, interestingly the biggest states, California,
Texas and New York are missing as well so what’s going on? Looking closer, just four states, Ohio, Florida,
Pennsylvania and Virginia received a majority of the candidates’ attention during the election. And if you follow the money, it’s the same
story. Why do candidates spend so much money and
time in so few states? Because the way the electoral college works forces them to do
so. The elections are winner-take-all. As long
as a candidate gets just over 50% of the popular vote in a state he wins 100% of that state’s
electoral votes. That means winning by millions of citizens’
votes is no better than winning by a single vote. So candidates are safe to ignore states where
they poll with big margins. Instead, the electoral college makes candidates
intensely interested in the needs of just a few states with close races, to the detriment
of of almost all Americans, which is why it should be abolished. But wait! You might say, won’t abolishing
the electoral college and voting directly for president cause candidates to spend all
their time in big cities? That wouldn’t fair to most Americans either. This sounds like a reasonable fear, but ignores
the mathematical reality of population distribution. There are 309 million people in the United
States, only 8 million of which live in New York, the largest city by far. That’s 2.6%
of the total population. But after New York, the size of cities drops fast. LA has 3.8 million and Chicago has 2.7 but
you can’t even make it to the tenth biggest city, San Jose before you’re under a million
people. These top ten cities added together are only
7.9% of the popular vote hardly enough to win an election. And even winning the next 90 biggest cities
in the United States all the way down to Spokane is still not yet 20% of the total population. So unless there’s a city with a few hundred
million people hiding somewhere in America that’s been left out of the census, the idea,
that a candidate can just spend their campaign Jetting between New York, LA and Chicago while
ignoring everyone else and still become president is mathematically ludicrous. Want to see the real way to unfairly win? How YOU can become President with only 22%
of the popular vote by taking advantage of the Electoral College today! Don’t believe that’s possible in a democracy?
Just watch: Here’s the action plan: win the votes of the
people who count the most and ignore the people who count the least. Start with Wyoming, the state where 0.18%
of Americans live but who get 0.56% of the electoral college votes for president. And, because it’s a winner take all system,
you don’t need all of them to vote for you, just half plus one or 0.09%. Next up is the District of Columbia where
winning 0.1% of the population also gets you an additional 0.56% of the electoral college. Then add in wins in Vermont, and North Dakota,
and Alaska. Notice how the votes your getting to win the
presidency go up much faster than the percent of the population who voted for you because
of the Electoral College’s rules. Next is South Dakota, then Delaware, Montana,
Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho, Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico,
Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon, Kentucky,
Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland, Missouri,
Tennessee, Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Virginia, and New Jersey. Congratulations, by taking advantage of unfair
rules and winning states, not people, you’ve won a majority in the Electoral College even
though 78% of the population voted against you. This is not Democracy, this is indefensible. While this particular scenario is unlikely,
if you have a voting system that allows losers to win, you shouldn’t be surprised when they
do. Not once, not twice, but thrice in American
history the candidate with the most votes from the people actually lost because of the
electoral college. Three errors in 55+ elections is a failure
rate of 5%. Would anyone tolerate a sport where, by a
quirk of the rules, there was a 5% chance that the loser would win? Not likely. Given how much more important electing the
president of the United States is, that’s a rather dangerously high percentage of the
time to get it wrong. If we abolish the Electoral College and simply
let citizens vote for the president directly, all of these problems will go away and everyone’s
vote will be equal.

Comments 8

  • There is no good answer. Without the electoral college, 10 states can decide the election. With the electoral college, individuals are not perfectly represented. Currently, Presidents can be elected without the popular vote, but they have to pay mind to the fly over states. Without the EC, candidates will not spend time with the fly over states. Those states grow a large % of our domestic grains and raise cattle. The million dollar question is "how do we fix the election process with causing more damage"? So that the rural farmers, as well as every individual from the most populated areas both have adequate representation.

  • make that 4 times! no way a crooked woman should be allowed to run the most powerful nation on earth

  • I see your points, but there are way more important reasons why we need the electoral college. the argument isnt just new york, chicago, and L.A., the argument is that if you take every city in the United States with a population higher than 1 million, you win the popular vote. meaning that person probably helps the urban areas while ignoring rural ones. it does stop fly over states.

  • I like the electoral college

  • 4ce now, Hillary won.

  • Nice straw man. You talk about the cities but not the most populous states. You mention that the small states can band together to vote in a president but ignore the actual voting results from our elections. It is mathematically possible for your scenario but electorally impossible. This born out of the actual data not your scare tactics. All of the elections that the popular vote was lost had a margin of less than a percent difference. These elections were so close that without the electoral college we would have had to vote again or face riots everywhere, from the losers and the winners. We are a nation of sovereign states, they are not just districts in like within the states themselves. Stop this bull, you are better than this.

  • pure propaganda.. the defense of the 10 largest city's is wrong NY city metro population 21 million when you add in Manhattan Brooklyn etc…Heck Manhattan alone is 9.8 million and its not on his list as the top 10 city's with the highest pop….L.A. metro is 15 million and Chicago is 10 million metro …nice try though If everyone would read the constitution they would better under stand it. We are a country of different people of different needs. We are a constitutional republic not a pure democracy. To go to a popular vote would be like 3 animals picking whats for supper and it being 2 wolves and one sheep deciding.

  • Ohio has 16 congressional districts, add 2 for the senators and that comes to 18 electoral votes.
    Where do you get 20 based on population?

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