October 13th, 2012


electoral college madness

There's this viral video going around, looking at what would happen if there's a tie in the electoral college voting, or even if one candidate or the other fails to get to 270 votes for some reason, like if a Third Party won some of the votes.

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The solution: the House chooses one of the candidates, with one vote going to each state. The video points out how absurd this is because of the difference in populations between, say, New York state and Connecticut. Because I'm curious like this, I wondered just how small a proportion of Americans might be represented in such a vote. So using this list of state populations, I added up states with populations #24-50. They represent just 17.64% of the population.

Also, keep in mind that this doesn't mean 17.64% of the population would be represented in such a vote. State political races are as close as everything else. Let's be extremely generous and say that 60% of the residents in each of these states actually voted for their candidates. That means that in the case of a tie, our president could be chosen by people who were voted for 10.584% of the poulation. And that's of the people who showed up and actually voted, often in off-year races when there's a much lower voter turnout.

So here I am, racking my head trying to decide who I'm going to vote for. (Obama? Jill Stein? Write-in? etc.) I knew that my vote counted exactly the same as people who didn't study up on the candidates and issues. I'm a NY liberal so my vote was likely going to be an empty gesture anyway. Can anyone imagine Obama not winning my state, whatever way I vote? But idiosyncrasies like this just make the whole election seem even more arbitrary than it actually is. And that makes it next to impossible to feel like my government actually represents me. How am I supposed to have confidence in the important work it's supposed to do?