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In the Electoral College, Some State Residents Get A Lot More Votes

Posted on November 22, 2016 at 10:32 PM

By John A. Tures

Before the election, my students and I did a research project about the Electoral College. I thought I’d share the results with you, before you decide whether it still a good idea or not.

We looked at the number of Electoral College votes, and the population of each state in 2015, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s not one person one vote. In fact, it’s not even close. Here are the results.

In Georgia, for example, there’s one Electoral College vote for every 638,428 residents. For Alabama, it’s one for every 539,886 residents, and one Floridian Electoral College vote for every 699,009 residents. But there are more Floridians than Georgians, and more Georgians than Alabamans, so you aren’t too surprised, even though you’d probably think the numbers should be, well, standardized so that it might be 1 vote for a set number of state residents.

But there’s more.

In the District of Columbia, near where I moved from to the Peach State, it’s one vote in the Electoral College for every 224,076 residents of our nation’s capital. I also taught for a year at the University of Delaware, where it’s one Electoral College vote for every 315,311 residents. Hey….

In fact, here are the results for the ten states we found had the worst representation. Texas (1 EC Vote for every 722,871 residents) gets hit the worst followed by California (1 for 711,723), Florida, New York (1 for 682,613), and North Carolina (1 for 669,520).

So gets the best deals? Wyoming (1 for 195,369) leads, followed by Vermont (1 for 208,680), DC, Alaska (1 for 246,144) and North Dakota (1 for 252,309).

You’re probably thinking, well, this helps the small states, so it can’t be all bad. But look at the disparity and tell me that’s fair. Imagine if this was our system for funding, and Federal dollars were awarded that way.

I’ve heard people say that we need the Electoral College because people are stupid. So why do we let them choose the electors in the first place? The people can make up their own minds.

I’m sure Democrats will cheer these findings, and Republicans will send letters to the editor saying how desperately we need an Electoral College. Just remember that before the election, Trump blasted the Electoral College as a “disaster”, but calls it “genius” now (and changed his mind again today in a New York Times interview). It’s the opposite with Democrats, who cheered the Electoral College until they lost. Now they want to abolish it.

Of course, the Electoral College is embedded in the U.S. Constitution, and it takes more than an Act of Congress to change that. You’d probably need a Constitutional Amendment, and about 38 states to ratify such an amendment. But as Paul Newman said in the “Cool Hand Luke” film “That don’t make it right.”

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He thanks Sydney Aronson, Katelynn Dixon, Wesley Hermonstine, Betsy Markham, Jordan Osborne and Salman Rahim for their research. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu.

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