With the presidential campaign in its final days, enthusiasm for this year’s election is nearing a peak. It’s too bad your vote won’t matter.
That statement is heresy in the United States, a nation where we’re taught almost from birth the value and responsibility of voting in a democracy — but it’s true in our case. That’s because no matter how we vote, New York’s 29 electoral votes will go to President Obama.
That’s the nature of the Electoral College, which was established by our founding fathers in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the president by a vote in Congress and election of the president by a popular vote of citizens. When we vote, we are actually voting for “electors” who will represent us in the actual vote for president.
The Electoral College consists of 538 “electors.” A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the president. A state’s allotment of electors equals the number of members in its congressional delegation.
In every state but two, Maine and Nebraska, the Electoral College is winner take all. That means a candidate gets all of New York’s 29 electoral votes, even if he wins the state popular vote by one ballot.
Because New York City is so heavily Democratic, New York State’s 29 electoral votes will go to Obama. No matter how passionate the debate may be throughout the North Country, Obama will win New York State.
Our vote, at least for president, means nothing.
We’re not alone. In fact, virtually all the pundits believe this presidential election will be determined by seven to nine “swing” states, states where the popular vote could push the electoral vote either way.
That’s why Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are willing to spend days, even weeks, and millions of dollars in states like Ohio, Virginia and Florida while ignoring New York and other states.
Candidates generally like the Electoral College. It allows them to focus their time, energy and money on key states. Citizens should not be as happy with a system that disenfranchises so many voters.
If our president was elected by popular vote candidates would be forced to appeal to all voters across the country. They would no longer be able to simply write off entire regionals as a lost cause and simply take other states for granted.
It’s time that one man, one vote becomes more than a slogan. It’s time for everyone’s vote to count. Changing the Constitution is a serious, difficult thing, but it’s time to revisit the Electoral College.
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