Winner Take All

The US Electoral College is being talked about a lot, mostly that it’s a good thing, or a bad thing, or how people’s opinions of it seem to change whether it benefits their candidate. It’s probably a bad sign that President-elect Donald Trump praised the Electoral College when it favored him in 2016 yet condemned it in 2012 when his candidate appeared to be losing by it. This suggests that he’s less interested in what best serves to put candidates on equal footing (thus better serving a democratic system) than he is in what benefits Trump right now. But I digress.

Is the Electoral College good or bad? That’s tricky to answer, and part of the problem is that we’re talking about multiple issues.

One, of course, is the matter of Electorates themselves, and that we vote for them, rather than directly for the president. But as that’s the more complicated issue, and I’m still overTrumped, I’ll save it for another time.

The other aspect of the electoral college is about how we count votes, which is to say badly.

Rounding Up

Even our vote counting system can be delineated into separate problems. Firstly, our winner-take-all rules. This make the system susceptable to Gerrymandering. The way voters are spread across a region can profoundly affect how well they are represented by the vote count. Gerrymandering is willfully taking advantage of this, diffusing the voting power of opposition voters so that friendly votes are disproportionately represented.

Suppose, for example, we have the coastal state of Yorkticut (Home of New England Style Baked Clam Chowder). It gets five electorates in the Presidential election, based on its two senators and three representatives in the house. Unrelatedly, it has seven voting districts.

In our suppositional election, the count is thus:

Middlebronx (District 1)
Popular Vote:
45500 voters counted
Wayne: 21262 (47%)
Kent: 24238 (53%)
Vote goes to: KENT

Madisex (District 2)
43868 voters counted
Wayne: 32836 (75%)
Kent: 11032 (25%)
Vote goes to: WAYNE

Hartauqua (District 3)
45973 voters counted
Wayne: 21892 (47%)
Kent: 24081 (52%)
Vote goes to: KENT

St. Mungmung (District 4)
43753 voters counted
Wayne: 32793 (75%)
Kent: 10960 (25%)
Vote goes to: WAYNE

New Mayville (District 5)
45400 voters counted
Wayne: 21215 (47%)
Kent: 24185 (53%)
Vote goes to: KENT

Platham (District 6)
45689 voters counted
Wayne: 21055 (46%)
Kent: 24634 (54%)
Vote goes to: KENT

Litchburgh (District 7)
44028 voters counted
Wayne: 32923 (75%)
Kent: 11105 (25%)
Vote goes to: WAYNE

Voting Population: 314,211
Wayne Voters: 183,976 (59%)
Kent Voters: 130,235 (41%)
Popular vote goes to: WAYNE

District Count: 7
Wayne Districts: 3 (43%)
Kent Districts: 4 (57%)
District vote goes to: KENT

Wayne is preferred by voters consolidated into cities, where Kent is preferred in suburban and rural districts, and as a result, fewer Kent voters spread across more districts are able to outvote a majority of Wayne voters consolidated. The thing is, all this rounding off and giving one guy all the votes

Two Free With Every Bushel

The other factor is that our electoral system is hedged towards smaller states. Given that each state gets two extra electorates, states, voters in populations get their votes counted more than larger states. While I can understand a system might want to count the votes of some slightly more than those of others, this is only been in place due to the matter of tradition, and a difficult-to-change Constitution. There’s no specific reason for smaller states to be so advantaged that anyone has adequately explained. We do it because it’s tradition. If we wanted to (say, for some reason) give rural voters more clout, we could actually use any number of mathematical processes to do so, but giving states two freebies doesn’t do that, or really anything logical, except make people very annoyed when the popular vote and the electoral vote don’t match.

Going by the popular vote means that every vote counts, whether rural or urban, which is in line with the American notion of equality under law.

Assuming equality under law is still a thing.


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