First some backstory.
It’s 2008, a leap year and a presidential election year. It’s business as usual for most seasoned Americans but, for me, a citizen only as of last summer, I’m pretty especially excited to be voting for the first time. In 2004, I’d worked as an election official, on that day which began 4 more years of the Bush presidency, and I remember opening up the backs of the machines and counting up the votes at the end of the night, by flashlight, for some reason, after the stragglers have also all had their shot, and knowing in my head who I would have voted for.
As you can imagine presidential elections generate a lot of buzz on campus. All over student groups and living groups are hosting presidential debate bingos and register to vote parties. Well, I’ve been getting a little distracted as of late. Thursday night, I read the news for hours and never finished my 8.07 problem set which was harder than I anticipated. Tonight, pretty much the same story, but with no deadlines to shaft. I have something to show for it this time, though, I found something pretty awesome.
First of all, I’m against the electoral college system. I feel it does more harm than good. Back when it was instated, it did a whole lot of good. It helped make national interest possible when all there was was state interest. It did a big part in helping to unite the country, or even allow people to think on a more national level. This obviously isn’t the case any more, not for our generation, the driver’s license is really all that tells us apart nowadays.
Consider this a trial in true democracy. You know, the kind that we go around the world waving our hands about? The fact is, you’d think swing states like Ohio and Florida had 75% of the American population from how much time candidates spend in them addressing their concerns. The fact is, small states are overrepresented in the electoral college system at this point in time. Wyoming has the largest electoral votes to population ratio of any state. Ever wonder how much your vote is weighted in the general election?
Well, simply reference this here table, the last column, the ratio between electoral votes and population normalized to Wyoming. 
|STATE||ELECTORAL VOTES||VOTES||votes per elector (VPE)||Your vote counts as|
|Bush||271||50,456,002||AVG VPE BUSH:||186,184.51|
|Gore||266||50,999,897||AVG VPE GORE:||191,728.94|
And this really ought to concern you. If you’re an MIT student voting in Massachusetts, your vote is worth the least in the whole country. No wonder people opt for absentee ballots at home. I’ll be voting in Connecticut this year.
Now here’s what I found, that I never before knew existed:
It’s pretty underground, huh? This really shocks me. Considering 70% of Americans support a Popular Vote system, probably a lot less than that know that bills have already been introduced in about half the states proposing a de-facto conversion to this system by an Interstate Compact. Hawaii, New Jersey, Maryland, and Illinois have already passed it into law. The bill assigns the “electoral votes” of that state to the winner of the national popular vote. Those 4 states have a total of 50 electoral votes, 19% of the 270 they need to effectively overturn the electoral college system. Of course, the agreement will not be enacted in those 4 states until the 270 electoral votes have been reached. Dear old Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill in California. But it has passed both house and senate and may be on its way to overriding his veto.
Don’t believe it? Well, that’s why there’s Wikipedia.
Also, here’s a really cheesy video on Youtube supporting the movement, but they’re dears for trying:
Anyhow, there are legitimate concerns against having a popular vote system and then there are racist and bigoted ones. I found this list of Unacknowledged Perils of such a system. Regardless of where you stand, you should read through it to get a sense. I think the best argument of the bunch is the creation of a presidential free-market so to speak, but that may be corrected with a bit of regulation. I’m not saying it’ll be easy or convenient, the switch-over, but that’s an awful reason not to try.