My Vote Does Not Matter Because I Do Not Live In A Swing State
Published 11/4/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
Well I voted. No one can blame me for not making sure my voice was heard. But yet I remain somewhat jaded and cynical at the fact that when all is said and done, my vote ultimately won't do much to affect the outcome of election results.
Every 4 years it's the same routine. I head to my designated voting station and pull the lever, poke the appropriate dot, or press the desired digital touch screen button to make my mark as a citizen of this great country. Unfortunately, any excitement or exuberance I may have in exercising my constitutional responsibility to participate in the political process is greatly tempered by the fact that I know my vote in all actuality counts for very little. It's not because my vote is only one out millions that will ultimately be cast that makes the relative unimportance of my single vote seem so sobering. It's the fact that I know with near definitive certainty that no matter which way I cast my vote, whether I vote for John McCain of the Republican Party, or whether I vote for Barack Obama of the Democratic Party, my home state of Maryland, a solid blue state as blue states go, will ultimately pass on all of its electoral college votes for the Democratic candidate no matter what. Such is the dilemma and troubling aspect of living in a state with such thoroughly entrenched political and social views, and in a country where Presidential elections are decided based on an electoral college system rather than through a national popular vote.
The Current Electoral College Voting System Unfairly Empowers Small, Rural States With Substantially Less People, With Disproportionate Power Over Larger States With Significantly Larger Populations
This ongoing sham in the electoral process is due to the fact that our founding fathers ratified a constitution that set forth a Presidential election process based on an electoral college system. Currently, instead of allowing citizens like myself the power and right to directly cast our votes for President, we instead merely submit our votes for state electors. Under the current troubled electoral college voting system, each state has a designated and apportioned number of electors based on the number of Senators and Representatives each has in the U.S. Congress. As such, the numbers of electors are generally divvied up based on population size, with more populated states like New York, Texas, and California receiving more electoral votes, and smaller states, like North Dakota and Nebraska���� receiving fewer. While there are a few slight variations, the vast majority of states adopt a winner takes all popular voting approach where state voters choose between presidential candidates and the victorious candidate in that state wins all of the state's electors and thus, electoral votes.
Perhaps, the old electoral college system was needed back in the late 1700's when our country was passionately divided and individual states were understandably concerned that their individual states' rights would be usurped and engulfed by a strong, overbearing federal government. However, times have changed and our former collection of rag tag individual states have since coalesced into a unified whole - a true United States. It is time we do away with the old process and abolish the electoral college in favor of a direct voting system based on true, popular vote.
Throughout our nation's history, our populations have divided themselves among regions that many of us like to call blue states and red states. Blue states are states that tend to exhibit more liberal political practices and tend to have higher minority populations with large urban centers, located mostly on the western Pacific coast and north eastern Atlantic region. Red states tend to be clustered in the mid western and southern states, usually in areas that adopt more conservative political practices and views. However, in between the blue and red state gradients are the so-called wishy-washy purple swing states - states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida that have no solid political leanings. These swing states waffle back and forth from election to election due to the moderate and balanced views of its electorate population. However, because under the current electoral college voting system, there is no advantage gained by winning the majority of the national vote as the winner-takes-all system focuses on winning individual state majorities, the system tends to unfairly offer smaller states and residents of swing states disproportionate voting power.
Now why should my vote in a historically solid blue state like Maryland be essentially penalized and emerge any less important than that of a citizen living in Pennsylvania or Florida? Because of the current electoral college voting system, Presidential candidates have no incentive to spend time or resources in states that they believe they are likely to win or lose by a sizable margin, thus they frequently ignore a huge majority of states with sizable populations and votes (which is just baffling in a country ruled by the concepts of popular rule and democracy). Instead, all of the attention goes to the purple swing states. This to me seems completely counter to the democratic concept of majority vote and rule. Whatever happened to the idea that each person's vote is just as significant and important as that of any other citizen's? Why should citizens living in rural areas where populations are nil or merely in the thousands compared to the mega urban centers of larger states with populations in the millions be given such disproportionately overwhelming power over the lives of everyone else?
The Electoral College Voting System Should Be Abolished Via A Much Needed Constitutional Amendment
I view the electoral college system as a form of political disenfranchisement and believe it is time we abolish it altogether. Having scenarios like in 2000 where President George W. Bush won the election by winning the electoral college but failing to actually win the national popular vote was just ridiculous, and completely flies in the face of democracy. What is wrong with an urban focused electoral system when that is where the population centers are? Isn't that the ultimate democratic way of one man one vote? Concerns about maintaining the separation of powers or maintaining the preservation of state focused rights are unfounded as the reality is that our country has substantially changed over the years and we are much more united and interdependent as a country than during any other time during our history. If we truly want to substantially increase the numbers of Americans who vote and to encourage more to take part in the most important political process in the world, it's time we amend the Constitution to strike out the electoral college voting system and put in its place, a more equitable and fair direct national voting process. One man/women, one vote - that is the democratic way.
However, despite any lingering frustration I continue to have with the current voting system, I still think it's paramount that every U.S. citizen continue to exercise his or her civic duty to vote in all relevant local, state, and federal elections. Despite its immense flaws, it's still the most profound tool we have today to effectuate change and make our country truly our own. But because of its current shortcomings, it's also why I would still gladly give up my right to vote for a million dollars.