More on the Electoral College

November 4, 2008 at 9:48 pm (Political Ponderings)

Electoral College: Thought you were voting for president? Think again.

Well, since I’m in an election kinda mood I thought I’d babble on a little bit about how it actually works, since a whole lot of people don’t really know.

See, the misconception is this – that when you go into the poll, and you put a mark down for Obama, or McCain, or Barr, or whoever it is that you want for President, that you’re actually voting for President.

That is, unfortunately, not the case.
Say hello the the Electoral College System.

In a nutshell, the way it works is this:

Each state has a set number of elected representatives, equal to the number of Senators and Representatives that state has in congress.
Here in my home state of Illinois, we have 21 of them.

When you, for example, mark down “Obama” on your ballot, rather than saying “I want Obama for President,” what you’re really saying is “I want Obama’s representatives to be the representatives in Illinois.”
You’re actually voting for them, not for President.

Why does it matter, you may ask?

Two main reasons, which may or may not be seen as a big deal (probably depending on if it causes your guy to lose or not):

1) As seen in one of my previous posts, the number of electoral votes can be way out of sync with the number of votes from the actual population. Reason being that states with larger populations get way more seats in congress. As a result it’s very possible that, even though if you were to do a count of everyone’s votes, one candidate won – he may still lose because those votes weren’t in the right states.

2) As previously stated, you don’t vote for President, these representatives do. Now, when you vote in a Democratic representative, you expect that he’s going to vote the way the citizens are voting and vote for the Democratic President. But guess what – there’s nobody holding a gun to his head. He may get some wild bug up his arse and decide to vote for somebody else anyway. It’s certainly happened before.

And there you have it: Why, when you get right down to it, your vote is pretty much worthless 😛

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