"Every vote counts"
"Your voice matters"
"It's your civic duty"
Sure, there is a bit of truth in these statements - but they're extremely misleading. To make it more confusing, they're actually misleading in multiple ways. Let's break it down.
Every vote may be counted in a presidential election, but it only matters in your individual state. In most cases, the candidate who wins the popular vote in any given state then wins the official electoral college votes. Wait. What? You don't directly vote for the president of the United States, despite what we're taught growing up. In fact, the electoral college can vote against the popular vote if they so decide to in most states. So, you're really just voting for the voters to vote for president. Got that?
On to our second point. Yes, your vote may end up being counted, but because of this system, not all votes are counted equally. Your vote in California isn't worth nearly as much as it would be in Alaska. A state's number of electoral votes are a combination of their number of senators (2) plus the number of congressmen. Unfortunately, this doesn't come close to aligning with the population of each state. Need examples?
California's population of approximatley 35 million only receives 55 electoral college votes.
Wyoming's population of just over 500,000 still get 3 electoral college votes.
If you do the math, you will find out that Wyoming's electoral votes per resident are 3.8 times greater than for someone living in California. So no, not all votes are counted equally in a presidential election. Not even close. Need the data? Here you go:
|State||Population (2003)||Electoral College Votes||Rep. Value per Resident|
|District of Columbia||563,384||3||5.32496486|
But Wait - It Get's Worse!
In many recent presidential elections, the winner has been declared by the end of the day. As polling locations close, vote counts are registered, and in many cases can be called far before all votes are couned. If a polling district has already counted 75% of the votes and therefore can determine that the second choice candidate is unable to win, they are able to declare a winner in that location. Therefore, counting is not actually finished when the winner is declared locally, which can and should influence the actual electoral college voters.
Really want to feel slighted? Move to Hawaii. There have been many election years where the winner was declared before polls in Alaska even closed, due to the time zone difference.
How much does your vote count?
Where do you live? How much does your vote count? Should you vote for the president? Tell us by letting us know who you're voting for in our anonymous vote for the president online poll. It's free, fun, and actually counts every vote!