Make Our Vote Count advocates for proportional allocation of California’s Electoral College votes. Simply explained, the candidates for president will receive Electoral College votes from California based on the percentage of the state popular vote received. This allows for the most democratic representation of the voters of California. It ensures the will of ALL Californians, even those who don’t align with the Democrat and Republican parties, is fairly represented in the national election for president.
There is a loud chorus in America that argues that the national popular vote is the most democratic allocation of our votes. This is categorically blatantly untrue, and only a little research shows why.
Firstly, to clarify, Make Our Vote Count is not a national movement. It is a California state initiative. Every state has the same right to enact reform governing the allocation of it’s Electoral College votes. Nevertheless, let’s discuss the NPV vs. proportional allocation in terms of overall democratic fairness, in keeping with the intentions of the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The early leaders of America established the concept of the Electoral College to strike a compromise between the election of a president by the U.S. Congress (state representation) and the election of a president by popular vote of the “qualified citizens” of the United States as a whole. The intention was to balance the interests of smaller states with larger states, less populous rural areas with densely populated urban areas. The Electoral College promotes voting equity for all citizens, regardless of where they live in our country. This is as important today as it was when the United States were fewer in number and smaller in population.
To understand why the national popular vote is not only less than democratic, it’s important to understand our recent voting demographics as a nation. We can do this by looking at the exit data from the 2012 presidential election for the United States and California. We’ll use these numbers as a base throughout the discussion.
Today, the total population of the United States is 317 million people. The turnout in the 2012 presidential election was roughly 126 million voters. President Obama beat Governor Romney by a popular vote margin of approximately 64 million to 60 million votes. This translated to an Electoral margin of 332-206 (270 of 538 EC votes are needed to win).
In 2012, California had a registered voting population of 18,245,970 voters. Of those, 13,202,158 actually voted. The split was 7,854,285 for Obama and 4,839,958 for Romney. The result? All 55 Electoral College votes went to Obama, at the exclusion of nearly 5 million Californians. Not one vote went to Romney even though nearly 38% of the eligible voters voted for him. This means that the existing winner-take-all method in California is actually an exact representation of what the national popular vote folks want. They advocate winner-take-all even though it excludes a vast number of voters- and they don’t take into account geographical and regional differences, wide demographic inequalities, and the varying needs of voters in different states.
To take emotion out of it, remove the names of the candidates and the parties. In California, Candidate A could receive 50.1% of the popular vote (around 7 million votes) and garner 100% of the Electoral College votes, winning all of California. Candidate B could receive 49.9% of the votes (6.5 million votes) and still have nothing to show for those votes. Candidate C? Forget them, and their voters. They aren’t even worth mentioning, because under winner-take-all (popular vote), they literally DON’T COUNT.
Expanded nationally, in a two-party race, Candidate A could receive 63.5 million votes and become the next president, at the expense of more than 62.5 million voters! This isn’t simply a difference of opinion among 1 million voters. 62.5 million voters might as well have not even shown up on election day! With that kind of disparity, what would be the incentive for people to show up at the polls, knowing their vote would very likely not count? Especially after listening to the media, pundits, and professional handicappers already calling the election!
When factoring the needs of voters at the state and national level, it’s imperative that each vote carry the same weight. We ask ourselves as citizens to balance the needs of our state and our nation when voting for a national candidate. If we don’t promote fairness at the state level, how can we expect that a national candidate will represent us fairly? And if winner-take-all means California is not even “in play,” why would either candidate even bother trying to represent California? They only come to California to raise money to spend in other states!
The national popular vote is also heavily slanted to favor the densely populated, major metropolitan areas in our country. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the needs, desires, and goals of city dwellers often differ significantly from those who live in rural areas. The highest concentration of wealth is also in the cities, and the highest concentration of political donation funding also comes from cities. So under the national popular vote, we’d have battleground cities, rather than the imperfect, but far more democratic battleground states scenario that exists under the existing system.
With a 3-candidate field under the popular vote, the overall accountability of political parties and politicians to we the citizen voters would decrease even further! Let’s say instead of 63.5 million people (50.1% of the voters) voting for the winning candidate, it would only take 42.5 million (roughly 33%) of the voting population for victory. That would mean almost 84 million voters, or 67% of the entire voting population wouldn’t count! And it gets even LESS REPRESENTATIVE with more than 3 candidates! With 4 or more candidates, you simply dilute the overall representation of the national interest. The national popular vote would KILL democracy as we know it!
How? Don’t think for one second that wealthy, powerful, special interest groups wouldn’t fund “throw away candidacies” with the sole intention of sucking votes from their closest competitors. It would be easy to splinter votes from similarly ideologically aligned groups (think conservative Republicans, Tea Party, Libertarians) to split their vote and render those voters inconsequential. Now they’ve divided and conquered, so their candidate doesn’t even have to win a SIMPLE majority (more than half) of all voters!
And this type of monkey-wrenching would take place by both parties, who put their special interests ahead of the interest of the voters.
Insert proportional allocation, and you have the best and most equitable balance between the Electoral College and the popular vote. Proportional allocation would take into account the popular will of the people, and proportionally allocate Electoral College votes accordingly. It won’t matter where you live or what party you belong to. It won’t matter what your income level is, what your race is, your educational background, your religion, who you know, etc… your vote will count equally. One person, one vote. All people, all votes! The winner of the election will have earned victory because all votes are registered, tallied, and counted.
It’s pretty clear that the national popular vote, although it sounds nice and democratic, would be easily manipulated by the political machines. Proportional allocation creates a much more fair and democratic system that is virtually impervious to the gerrymandering tricks of the political parties and their special interest surrogates. Proportional allocation of Electoral College votes is the most complete and enfranchising method of vote allocation. It will promote third party participation, and it will increase voter turnout. And it will make politicians accountable to we, the voters. Why haven’t we done this already!?
Make Our Vote Count!