The following is an excerpt from JOSEPH BOTTUM | Oct 29, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 07 | TheWeeklyStandard.com |
The good thing about the Electoral College—our strangely still-surviving 18th-century experiment in federalism—is that it’s clear, coherent, and -commonsensical. If you live in Ohio, say, a state that’s closely contested in the presidential race this year, you know down in your bones that your ballot is important. More important, certainly, than the ballots coming out of Illinois, where President Obama remains so messianic that even the dead will rise up to vote for him, if necessary.
The bad thing about the Electoral College, unfortunately, springs from the same root: It’s clear, coherent, and commonsensical. The rise of personal computers over the last 30 years has taught everyone in America the deep truth of information theory: If it’s a system, it’s got inequalities. If it uses rules, it can be gamed. Added up one way, a voter in Wyoming casts what is easily the most influential ballot in this year’s presidential race: 3.52 times the value of a Texas ballot. Added up another way, people in the District of Columbia have the most say in the national election: 3.60 times more than voters in Wisconsin.
The really interesting numbers, however, are found when you try to estimate the worth of votes in the narrow margins of tossup states. Given recent polls, a single presidential ballot in Utah counts for very little—while each ballot in neighboring Colorado could influence the national result. If you live in Massachusetts, you probably won’t be missed if you stay home on Election Day. If you live in Nevada, you should crawl across the desert over broken glass to get to a ballot box.
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