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Elliot Ackerman

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Overcoming Old Obstacles to Democracy in 2012

Posted: 10/27/2011 5:28 pm

A Gallup poll out this week shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans say they'd replace the Electoral College with a straight popular vote, a number that's been consistent for more than a decade.

Objections to the Electoral College stem from the fact that it runs counter to democracy, by creating a situation in which some peoples' votes count more than others.

In the 2008 presidential election, the vote of one Wyoming resident carried nearly three times more weight than the vote of one California resident. The stats on that are below, but you don't need to be a math whiz or a constitutional scholar to figure out that that's not very democratic.

Ironically, the founders created the Electoral College because they thought it would be more democratic. Under this system, Americans don't vote for the president directly. Instead we vote for electors, who then vote for the president. All states get at least three electoral votes, no matter how few residents they have.

The founders thought the Electoral College would be a way to ensure that smaller states had a voice, and believed that putting judicious electors in charge of casting the actual votes would be a mechanism to prevent regular voters from being manipulated.

Instead, it's led to a lopsided process that on four occasions has resulted in a president who did not get the most popular votes.

Unfortunately, the Electoral College is not the only part of our system for picking a president where some peoples' votes count more than others. In our primary process, voters in states with early primary dates have disproportionate say. By the time voters in states with late primaries head to the polls, the race is often decided.

And those voters are the lucky ones. In states where party affiliation is required for primary participation, independent voters can't vote at all.

Then there's the issue of superdelegates in the Democratic party, and similarly powerful insiders in the Republican party. One superdelegate's vote in the selection of a nominee is equal to the votes of about 10,000 regular Democratic voters.

It's no wonder that 58 percent of Americans say they're "furious" about the state of our politics. Americans believe they aren't being represented, and they're right. Few things make people more angry than the feeling that they're powerless.

At AmericansElect.org, we're empowering voters, by creating the first process for nominating a presidential candidate where every person's vote counts equally.

Any registered voter can be a voting delegate in our secure online convention next summer. It doesn't matter what state you live in, what connections you have, or what party you belong to. (In fact, you can still vote in your party's primary while participating in our convention.)

We have no position on any candidate or issue. You decide which issues matter most, you choose the candidates, and you nominate your choice for president. The winner will be on the ballot in all 50 states in 2012.

It's just that simple.

With your participation, Americans Elect is removing barriers between voters and the political process that have existed for too long. In doing so, we're finally making America a country where all votes are created equal.


STATS: In the 2008 election, 13,561,900 California residents voted, compared with 254,658 Wyoming residents. Split these numbers by California's 55 electoral votes and Wyoming's three, and you find that California residents cast 246,580 votes at the polls for every electoral vote from their state, while Wyoming residents cast 84,886 votes for every electoral vote from their state. That's roughly a 3-to-1 ratio.

 
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