28 October 2008


*this* is why my vote won't matter in this presidential election:

(this map was put together by liz green for her blog post, "looking for the magic number 270? turn your eyes to the state polls" for yahoo news.)

as many of us may not remember, the presidency is not decided by popular vote. it's decided by the electoral college. we vote on nov-4; they vote on dec-15 this year. the candidate who gets a majority of the electoral college votes wins, so we really only need to be concerned with what collection of states a candidate can put together to get to 270 (a simple majority; there are 538 total electoral college votes divvied up among the states as shown above).

which then just becomes a math game ...

(i know, "math" and "game" aren't usually used together in a sentence, and certainly don't usually denote anything fun ... but stick with me here.)

okay. come tuesday, i won't actually be voting for obama or mccain, i will be voting for my state's electors. california has 55 electors in the electoral college, the most of any state.

according to wikipedia, "electors are technically free to vote for anyone eligible to be president, but in practice pledge to vote for specific candidates and voters cast ballots for favored presidential and vice presidential candidates by voting for correspondingly pledged electors. ... the ticket that receives the most votes statewide 'wins' all of the votes cast by electors from that state."

what does that mean? except for in two states in the union, each state's electors are all or nothing. which means that whichever ticket wins a majority of the popular vote in the state, wins all of that state's electoral votes. so ... whichever ticket wins a majority of the popular vote in california, wins all 55 electoral votes. as few as 50% of the california population plus 1 person can vote blue and all 55 of my state's electoral votes go blue. hmmm.

which is why my state has usually been blue and will probably be blue for the foreseeable future. the same is true of states like utah (whose 5 votes almost always go red), texas (whose 34 votes also usually go red), and new york (whose 31 votes usually go blue).

as you can see, unless you live in one of the "swing states" (which are denoted as grey in the map above, and this year they are colorado, florida, indiana, missouri, nevada, new mexico, north carolina, ohio, pennsylvania, virginia, and new hampshire), the decision is generally already made for you. i hope you swing staters realize this and get out and vote; make your voice heard.

my intention is not to encourage a lack of participation in our country's election, nor an indifference or sense of disempowerment. i am frustrated with the way the system works. i can believe that when the electoral college was set up, it was necessary in order to conduct an efficient and effective election that provided for the interests of both the individual citizen and the states. i don't believe we need it now. i believe that we do not so much define ourselves as citizens of states, but as citizens of this country. i believe that the electoral college represents better the voices of states over the voices of individual citizens because i believe the system as it is now blocks my voice from being heard at all.


and i know that unless obama, mccain, and all the 538 members of the senate and the house of representatives read my blog and think i actually know something of which i speak, none of this ranting will matter. but i just can't hold it in any longer!

don't think less of me.


please note that, yes, i am going to vote. despite all these frustrations, i believe that we should vote. i have already received my absentee ballot, which i am going to mail in tomorrow. as my mom always says, "if you don't vote, you don't have room to complain". and i like to complain! ha!

(ps -- if anyone has input or enlightenment to share with me as the necessity of the electoral college and the purpose for its existence in our nation today, i would really like to discuss. really.)

1 comment:

Em and Ms said...

I voted! I also didn't realize I live in a swing state. Makes me feel important :)