Vote Advantage Belongs To The People

Vote advantage may cause fear

Some have asked what vote advantage would occur if a single state adopted Equal Voice Voting (EVV). They frame the question against the context of a given political party losing control. They fear that dividing the electoral votes within a state might give a vote edge to a political party. It’s a fair question and concern.

A scenario that comes to mind is when a large state divides its electoral votes proportionally (EVV) among viable candidates. Since elections might be close, the thinking goes, it could cause a candidate to lose his/her vote advantage.

For example, suppose California used Equal Voice Voting and no other state did. If the Democrats lose around a third of their electoral votes, wouldn’t that give a winning nod to the Republican candidate? That is, when aggregated with the electoral votes of the rest of the nation?

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Vote advantage in large states

Let’s look at some real numbers. Trump captured 304 electoral votes to Hillary’s 227 in 2016 (remember, seven votes were cast for other people by rogue delegates). Trump’s winning electoral vote advantage was 77 electoral votes. It becomes obvious that if Equal Voice Voting had been used in California, Trump’s winning margin would have increased. Hillary would not have gained on her opponent. The 77 vote total margin is much more than the 55 total California electoral votes.

Further, using the 2016 California scenario above, Trump would have captured 18, Hillary 34, Stein two, and Johnson one electoral votes. The electoral vote total, with only California using EVV, would give Trump 322 and Hillary 227 electoral votes—a spread of 95 electoral votes.

Okay, so let’s use Texas as an example, since Trump captured that state’s entire 38 electoral votes. The state’s electoral votes would be apportioned so Trump captured 21, Hillary 16, and Johnson one electoral votes. If only Texas used EVV in 2016, the electoral vote split would then be 288 for Trump and 243 for Hillary—a difference of 45 electoral votes.

Vote advantage in small states

The comparison can also be made for a using a collection of the smaller states. Let’s take three states that favored Trump and three that favored Hillary—a group of six. Let’s use Hillary favored states: Connecticut, Minnesota, and Oregon. Trump favored states: Arizona, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. Each candidate won 24 electoral votes from these states. If EVV were used in these six, Hillary would have won 23 and Trump 25 electoral votes. A voting advantage of one should not worry many.

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None of the scenarios above depicts a situation wherein one state, or even a group of states, adopting EVV shifts the vote advantage to any political party. If the concern were only for a political party’s vote advantage, a single large state or a group of states adopting EVV probably would not be a deciding factor.

Vote advantage only means all votes count

The problem with the scenarios above is not the math; it’s the premise of the concern. The election mechanism should elicit a winning candidate by counting all votes. Using the winner-takes-all approach short-changes a large number of voters. The vote advantage should belong to the most voters, not a political party!

In the scenarios above, let’s consider the voters who did not vote for the state’s favored candidate. These votes, remember, were not represented by the Electoral College results. In the three states Hillary carried, 3,524,011 votes were ignored. In the three states Trump carried, 2,421,595 were. That means 5,945,606 votes in these six states did not matter in 2016!

Just to be clear, that’s more votes than there are registered voters in Georgia. That’s more votes than ballots cast in Illinois.

If a single state counts all of its voters

I’ve been asked what would happen if Oregon (my home state) was the only state to adopt Equal Voice Voting. It means Oregon would be a true trailblazer, compared to the other 49 states. It means ALL constituents are heard when electing our president.

Any state can adopt EVV by itself. There is no need for a compact of states and no need to be overly concerned about losing a vote advantage by a political party. We should be much more concerned about losing the votes we routinely cast aside in every presidential election.

Vote advantage belongs to the people—not to a political party. If all votes count within a state (reflected in its electoral vote allocation) then that state weighs in fairly. To preserve a system based on fear of eroding an electoral vote advantage is folly. Likewise, it’s ill serving for a state to fear “going-it-alone” and prefer the false comfort promised by a multi-state compact.

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Equal Voice Voting can make your state matter. It can make your vote count!