The presidential elections are less than a week away and because I just turned 21 this year, this will be the very first presidential election in which I will be able to vote.
With all the tension and excitement running up to the historical choice that Americans will have on Nov. 4, I have decided, in all good faith and certainty, to abstain from voting for a presidential nominee this year because my vote is essentially worthless.
As a citizen of the great northern state of Massachusetts, I will assure anyone who doesn’t know that all 12 electoral votes will go directly into the pool for the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama. Maybe I am in favor of seeing the Democrats take the White House or maybe I’m for keeping the Republicans installed in the executive branch. But that doesn’t really matter because a left-leaning state like Massachusetts will vote Democratic. Unlike states like Nebraska and fellow New England state Maine, if one party simply wins the majority of the votes cast, all 12 votes will go toward that party’s nominee.
Unfortunately, making critical changes to the Electoral College is never an important issue when there are wars in the world and economic crises, but the Electoral College is an archaic, broken and at times unfair system that deserves to be abolished. When we realize that this system elects the most powerful person in the world, it seems like a viable problem when it was proven in 2000 that the presidency can be won without the majority of popular votes.
The Electoral College needs to be thrown out for the 2012 election and simply replaced by a nation-wide popular vote. We have the resources, as the voting infrastructure would not need to be changed. We have the models, as large states like California have no serious issue running popular vote elections for their chief executive officers. We have the motivation, as the smothering embers of the Gore vs. Bush presidential election still flare up now and again with the fact that Gore lost while holding the popular vote.
It is imperative that as a democracy we ensure that every vote counts and that every other vote is not tossed to the side as worthless since the winner takes all. Even if you rationalize that the winner-takes-all strategy doesn’t make the votes worthless, some individual votes are undoubtedly worth more than others.
The 2007 population of Wyoming was 522,830 and the 2007 population of Massachusetts was 6,499,755. Dividing the population by the number of electoral votes shows that each of Wyoming’s three electoral votes represents about 174,276 people per vote. Each of Massachusetts’ electoral votes represents 537,479 per vote. That translates into a vote cast in Wyoming being more than three times more influential than a vote cast in Massachusetts. I really don’t even have to argue this point, and I will simply point out that this is not egalitarian.
The arguments for keeping the Electoral College are pretty solid and mostly revolve around rationalizing away a few of the system’s weaknesses or attempting to show that a change is wasteful. The first argument is that the system works pretty well most of the time. That’s bunk, because a system like this shouldn’t work 99.9 percent of the time but 100 percent of the time.
The next argument is that there would be logistical problems in moving to a new system. That rationale holds little weight. Because we already have all of the infrastructure, a nation-wide popular vote is a simpler idea than the Electoral College, meaning people won’t need a complicated explanation. The current voting system can stand as it is, and states would just submit their popular vote numbers instead of the electoral ones.
So can someone explain to me why we haven’t done this yet? The infrastructure for the popular vote system is already there. Individual votes across the country hold different weights. The 2000 election exposed the Electoral College’s greatest weakness, by electing a person who did not have the backing of the citizen majority.All we need is a simple switch to remove that one extra step that turns popular votes into the archaic and broken electoral votes.