The Electoral College is Unfairly Preferential to People Who Live in Cities


Want your vote to count? Move to the city. That's the only way your vote for president really counts, thanks to the Electoral College system and the all-or-nothing allocation of electoral votes by most states.

Yes, the Electoral College is at least sort of democratic within each state. Sort of. The majority of people in a state determine where that state's electoral votes will go. But, the majority of people in most states live in the cities. So, it follows that city-dwellers will generally determine which candidate gets their state's electoral votes. If you live in the sticks, your vote — for president at least — is irrelevant. You might as well vote for a third party candidate or not vote at all.

Unlike senators and representatives who represent individual states and districts within states, the President of the United States represents ALL the people in the country — not just the ones who live in cities or particular voting precincts. Thus, everyone's vote should count.

On the simplest level of application, the Electoral College completely shuts out third party voters no matter where they live. Let's say your state has 3 electors and 5% of the state votes for a third party candidate. If the other 95% votes for the two entrenched party candidates, there's simply no practical way to fairly allocate the electors. The Electoral College simply truncates the votes of 5% in the less populated states, rounds off the remaining votes and gives all three electoral votes to whichever candidate got the most votes in that state. That's fine if the overwhelming majority of that 95% voted one way or the other, but what if those votes were split closer to 47-48? What if the 95% in the next state were split 48-47?

In the big states, the effect is equally evil. Washington State, for example, has 12 electoral votes. In the recent election, 1,356,883 people voted for Obama while 1,032,695 people voted for Romney. Somewhat surprisingly (to me, at least) somewhat less than 50,000 Washington voters voted for a third party candidate. With one notable exception and a couple of outliers, all the Obama counties were within the Puget Sound Sea-Tac/Olympia corridor. Virtually every other county, plus Clallam Co., voted the opposite way.

I am not arguing that this would have changed the outcome of this week's election. In this case it wouldn't. Obama also won the popular vote. But, there's the rub for Electoral College supporters; if it always went that way, where the popular vote mimicked the electoral vote, why do we need the Electoral College at all?

It is only when the electoral vote differs from the popular vote that there's any utility whatsoever to having an Electoral College. I'm open to debate on that specific point, but I'll only point back to the inequity of the all-or-nothing allocation scheme.

Look at New Mexico's county returns. Most counties were decisively split with wide margins. A few, however, were nearly dead heats. Which means nearly half the votes in those counties were disregarded on the state and national playing field.

On a state referendum or to a somewhat lesser extent for a state senator, this is fine. That's the unfortunate price of living in a democracy. For the record, I don't like the fact that a democracy can mean that you live under leadership and rules potentially chosen or established by a big bunch of idiots acting in concert. But, it's better than living under an idiotic dictator or a mentally deranged monarch. And, if we're going to operate as a democracy, I think we should at least make an honest effort to let every idiot vote — not just the idiots who live near the governor's mansion.

Back to Washington. Basically, 14% of one state's population (the margin between DNC and GOP votes) determined how 2% of the country's total electoral votes were cast.

When picking the President of the (entire) United States, this is 100%, absolutely and completely unacceptable. I sincerely doubt that anyone can persuade me otherwise. You are welcome, however, to try.