American culture centers on the belief that we as citizens have a voice, particularly through voting. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have free elections that are guaranteed and protected by the Constitution, a freedom that far too many countries do not enjoy.
However, how much does your vote really count?
While each vote is meaningful in local and state elections, millions of votes for the president of the U.S. simply do not count. Due to the Electoral College and the winner-take-all policy that is enacted in almost all states, the mantra of “one man, one vote” is simply incorrect.
In the 2008 election for president of the U.S., John McCain won Mississippi after receiving 56.2 percent of the votes. The remaining 43.8 percent of the votes were essentially useless since McCain, by Mississippi statute, would go on to receive all six of Mississippi’s electoral votes.
Under the winner-take-all system that is used in 48 states and the District of Columbia, over 57 million votes were essentially pointless in the 2008 election because those votes were not represented in the Electoral College.
For something that Americans take great pride in, the Electoral College is a far cry from true democracy.
While movements to eliminate the Electoral College have never gained much traction, a recent movement, known as the National Popular Vote movement, seeks to maintain the power of the Electoral College while altering the process. The National Popular Vote would shift the winner-take-all from the state level to the national level using the popular vote from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Thus, whichever candidate receives the most votes across the nation, regardless of state or county, will receive all of the Electoral College votes.
Some might wonder if the National Popular Vote is even needed, claiming that the Electoral College has always worked before. However, that is not true.
In four of the 56 presidential elections, the candidate who won the Electoral College did not win the popular vote. Four might seem like a low number, but that means one of every 14 elections has been impacted. For a position as powerful as the president of the U.S., even one in 14,000 is a problem.
Also, in 2004, if there had been a swing of 60,000 votes in Ohio in Kerry’s favor, he would have won the Electoral College, despite trailing Bush by three million votes nationwide. Who wants a system where a candidate can have three million votes more than his opponent yet lose?
Furthermore, four states make up 54 percent of the electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Meanwhile, a candidate would have to win roughly 28 of the smaller states just to receive the same number of electoral votes.
The current Electoral College system is greatly flawed, and it does not truly give every citizen a voice in the race for president. It is time for America to adapt and adopt the National Popular Vote.
Trenton Winford is a public policy leadership junior from Madison.
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