Power of the Small States in the Electoral College
[previously posted on a former blog, now defunct – April, 2016]
The Electoral College process favors people living in small states. We all know that each state has the same number of electoral votes as it does members of Congress. Since congressional apportionment in the Senate favors the small states, the electoral college therefore favors small states, first by giving them the malapportioned Senate votes, and second by amplifying the voting power of those votes.
For instance, California has 38,800,000 residents, and it has 55 electoral votes, or about 705,000 people per elector; and Wyoming, with 550,000 people, has three electoral votes, or about 183,000 people per elector. Which means that a Wyoming resident has 3.8 times the voting power of a California resident. Sixty-five Wyomings could fit in California, meaning that if California were scaled in such a way it would contribute 195 votes to the electoral college.
The winner-take-all (except ME and NE) further amplifies this scenario. (For further reading, you can check out papers from Columbia Univ. and MIT.)
Many respond that ours is a Constitutional Republic, that the Electoral College and the Senate protect us from “tyranny of the majority” and/or “mobocracy.” This misses a key point:
Where and when are we prepared to say that the loser gets to win, to dictate policy? Under what circumstances?
And whereas California has 38,800,000 residents, and it has 55 electoral votes, or about 705,000 people per elector; and Wyoming, with 550,000 people, has three electoral votes, or about 183,000 people per elector. This discrepancy means that a Wyoming resident has 3.8 times the voting power of a California resident.
Sixty-five Wyomings could fit in California, meaning that if California were scaled in the same way, California would contribute 195 votes to the electoral college. The winner-take-all nature of the contest (except ME and NE) further amplifies this unbalanced scenario.
One further latent anti-democratic issue in the Electoral College is the prospect of a three-way race where no one wins a clear majority (270).
When no candidate wins 270 electoral votes, the Constitution provides that the House of Representatives elects the president in such a case. If it were the full House voting, and since, ideally, the House’s membership reflects the nation’s population, this election would be relatively fair. However, this process provides that each state receives only one vote, further diluting and diminishing the power of large states, and utterly disenfranchising the people of the United States.
Given the undemocratic nature of the EC, if an elector switched his or her vote so that the EC vote matched the popular vote, would this be a good thing?
# # #
James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager political suspense-thrillers Faithless Elector , Dark Network , and Emergency Powers–noir tales about a stolen presidency, a conspiracy, and a nation on edge. All books are available on BookShop.org, IndyBound.org, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. eBooks are available in multiple formats including Apple, Kobo, Nook and Kindle.
His work, “Numbers Don’t Lie” also recently appeared in the 2020 short-story anthology Low Down Dirty Vote, vol. 2, and his short story “Ultimatum Games” will appear in Rock and a Hard Place this fall. His next book, w/t Bastard Verdict, is a noir political thriller set in Scotland.
A Seattle native (mostly), James now lives in South Philadelphia with his wife and three children. He’s a member of the The Mystery Writers of America, Int’l Assoc. of Crime Writers, Int’l Thriller Writers, Philadelphia Dramatists Center and is the newly elected vice-president of the Delaware Valley chapter of the Sisters in Crime network. James has an MFA from the University of Washington in Seattle.
This blogpost was previously posted on a former blog, now defunct – April, 2016
One thought on “Power of the small states in the *Electoral College”
Pingback: As American as Baseball: A Modest Proposal | Chosen Words - James McCrone