Saturday, November 08, 2008

Tyranny of the Electoral System

Missouri's still counting and recounting but the absurdity of our electoral system is still clear. Ignoring the Show Me State, here are the results:

Candidate% of Popular Vote% of Electoral Votes

The spread between Obama and McCain jumps from 6.5 points to almost six times that amount (38.6). A large part of this discrepancy is because the plurality of the state gets all the state's votes. But it brings to bear another strange aspect of the electoral college: Pennsylvania has 25 times as many people as Wyoming, but only 7 times the electoral votes. Iowa has a fourth of the people Illinois has but only a third of the votes. In other words, the system disproportionately favors low populations states. (This was a major issue in 2000, when Gore received the popular vote but lost the election.)

People argue rural areas have to get extra voice. Otherwise the candidates would never pay attention to them and spend all their time in major cities. So what? Majorities always have a greater say than minority opinions. But no one says that gays, immigrants, and Jews should get extra votes. The only difference is these minorities (mostly farmers) are concentrated geographically. I'm sympathetic to the idea of giving the outside opinion extra muscle in order to curb the tyranny of the majority. But it's not clear why that minority has to have their own state before they get such an ability. Because we lack consistency, part of the minority becomes party of the majority and the bullying continues.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since the US is a republic and not a democracy, thank goodness, why do we care about the popular vote?

So we have the tyranny of the least popular states or the tyranny of mob rule.

I might be interested in a system where only people who pay more in taxes than they get in hand outs would be allowed to vote.