Editorial: The Electoral College needs your vote

Staff Editorial

Illustration by Stephanie Perez

Election Day is almost here, and it won’t be long until we will know who will be commander-in-chief of the United States of America. Will it be current President Barack Obama, who continues in his role as leader of the free world, or will former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney take the top position?

As the election nears, many people are placing their votes on who they believe is more fit to lead the country for the next four years. So the question is, how important is each individual vote?

Every presidential election is decided by what is called the Electoral College, a winner-take-all system that gives a candidate a certain number of electoral votes based on the number of representatives the state has in the U.S. House. The Electoral College was a system put in place to allow for smaller states such as Rhode Island to have a say in the outcome of elections. Depending on the size of a state according to population, a state receives a certain amount of seats in the House of Representatives. For each seat, a state has one vote in the Electoral College.

According to the current Electoral College, a state receives one seat for approximately every 709,000 citizens. At least one seat is guaranteed to every state, meaning those that do not meet the minimum still are represented. The magic number to become president is receiving 270 electoral votes. The problem, however, is that winning the Electoral College doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate leads in the popular vote, or the cumulative number of each individual votes.

In the case of the 2000 election, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush won over the then-Vice president Al Gore in the Electoral College, claiming the presidency. However, the popular vote favored Gore, marking the first time in history that the Electoral College and popular vote would disagree. It brings about the question of how important each individual vote is if it is the Electoral College that ultimately will prevail. In states such as Texas or California, where loyalty to one party is strong, many might be discouraged as to whether their vote would even matter.

The fact of the matter is that the Electoral College should serve as a motivation to get out and vote. Too many people have the mentality that their vote doesn’t matter, and if enough people think the same way, it could completely alter the outcome of an election. In a winner-take-all scenario, absolutely every vote is necessary to decide the victor. In 2000, the state of Florida ultimately was the state that decided the presidency. That state was decided by roughly 600 votes. Imagine if only 1,000 more people had voted. Would that have changed the outcome?

We’ll never know the answer to that question, but it does prove that it is possible for the pessimistic, “my vote doesn’t count” group to make a difference in the outcome of an election.

The point is to just to get out there and vote. We never will know the outcome of anything unless we go out and do it. If this year’s election is going to be as close as the experts say it will be, then literally every vote is going to be important. Don’t be the one kicking yourself when all is said and done. It may seem as if your vote is just one among millions, but maybe this year, yours will be the one that makes the difference.

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