Every Vote Counts

by icedtehc

The United States of America – a country so important we all become political fanboys/fangirls on THEIR Election Day, even though it might not directly affect us in any way significant.

This past Wednesday (Nov 7 – Singapore Time), many of my coursemates and of course, myself, tuned in to the live results of the 2012 US Presidential Election and saw Barack Obama win his second term of presidency. Most, if not all of my friends were firm Obama supporters, but I myself was quite split down the middle and was more concerned for the percentages the 3rd party candidates could rack up. Teams aside, as I was tuning in to the constantly changing statistics, one thing was made clear to me – slowly but surely, Obama was guaranteed the win right from the start.

This was because I noticed that citizens were not voting for their president – STATES WERE. If you’re confused on how states work, allow me to introduce you to the Electoral College.

If you were tuning in to the election results as well, you would’ve noticed that the votes went up to the hundreds, not the millions as you would expect from the population; to be more specific – a total number of 538. This number is derived from the total number of Senators and Representatives in the US Congress. These 538 votes are then divided among the states depending on their population.

A common misconception is that when a registered voter places his vote, he is directly giving his candidate one step closer to the presidential seat. However, that is not totally true, it only helps with the “Popular Vote“. Each vote simply boosts the suggestion on which candidate his state should place all their electoral votes for. All might sound fine and dandy until you notice that some states such as California and Texas have 55 and 38 electoral votes respectively, while states such as Nevada and Wyoming have 5 and 3 electoral votes respectively. The difference in number of votes are clear as day.

Such a large difference would mean that the fundamentals of democracy are being shattered with one person’s vote not being necessarily equal to another’s. In fact, speaking on the basis of population, the vote of one Wyominger’s vote is equivalent to the vote of four Californians.

From a politically profitable perspective, this might also cause some candidates to pay more attention to the states that are worth more as well as those who have a tighter race.

In fact, this has created such a problem, that 3 of the US Elections had differing results when comparing Electoral Votes and Popular Votes. Also, before you call me out with your pro-Obama speeches, remember – this works both ways; after all, one of these 3 elections was the 2000 US Presidential Election (others being 1876 and 1888) which saw George W. Bush win Al Gore with 271 (vs. 266) electoral votes and yet, having 50,456,002 votes despite Al Gore having a greater number of 50,999,897.

When it comes to selecting the leader for the “free world”, 3 discrepancies are 3 too many and a wrong choice might have dire consequences. The Electoral College might have helped your candidate win this time, but the tables can turn anytime. The United States, being the democratic center of the world should consider making everyone’s vote equal and making it count. This not only allows citizens to vote directly for their choice but also solves any problems along the way.

References:

U.S. Constitution.  Amend. XXIII, Art.II, Sec. 1.
Boice, Jay et al. “Election Results.” Huffpost Politics. Web. (LIVE – 9 Nov. 2012 0036h)
Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential ElectionsWeb. 9 Nov. 2012
C.G.P.Grey. “The Trouble with the Electoral College” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 7 Nov. 2011. Web. 9 Nov. 2012.

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