My vote is bigger than your vote

It’s not uncommon to hear complaints about the Electoral College every four years. It’s an anachronistic system to be sure, one designed for a time when average citizens had no direct say in who became president.

But now, for better or worse, we each have the chance to cast a ballot for our presidential candidate of choice. But due to the vestiges of this old Electoral College system, individual votes from state to state have wildly varying degrees of importance.

Here are some graphs from Andrew Gelman at Columbia University that illustrate that point:

GRAPH

GRAPH

As you can see from the data, if you live in New Mexico, Virginia, New Hampshire or Colorado, your vote is far more valuable than the rest of ours. If you live in California, Texas or New York, you’re practically worthless.

The solution to this problem is simple and clear. Institute a national popular vote for presidential elections. Unfortunately, small states would lose their disproportianate influence on national politics – influence that leads to idiotic policy like corn subsidies – if such a system were put in place, and that’s why I’d guess the problem hasn’t been fixed yet. And that’s why it’ll probably take a another election like Bush v. Gore in 2000 to finally spur this country to kill the Electoral College.

2 Comments

  1. Ian

    I don’t know if it ever would change. I mean, Bush got to be President because of the electoral college and he would’ve lost had it been popular vote. Why would he want to change that?

  2. Chris

    Ian,
    That’s very true. I just think that if the popular vote winner ends up losing the election again, we could easily see a groundswell of anger that might frighten our politicians into action.