The winner-takes-all cancer
There is a cancer that is ever-present during our presidential elections. It’s an insidious invasion that is often ignored or not even considered. It robs people of their votes, becomes a high-risk power play, and discourages voters from future participation in our democracy. Luckily, the diagnosis is easy. The remedy, too, is easy but seems too simple to consider.
The cancer is the winner-takes-all approach we use for the Electoral College. Many don’t like the Electoral College results so they blame the voting mechanism. Let me clearly say, the Electoral College is an ingenious system. The add-on of the winner-takes-all nullifies its advantages and fairness.
Here are three effects winner-takes-all causes:
- The minority voice is lost.
- Voting becomes a gamble.
- Citizens are discouraged to vote.
None of these effects are healthy for our democracy.
Winner-takes-all silences the minority voice
Consider how a minority voice (vote) is lost. Imagine two basketball teams playing a game. Imagine that the game is close and the final score is 101 for the home team and 99 for the visitor. The contest was exciting.
Imagine the following day’s sports report saying how the home team won and captured 200 points and the visitor had zero—nothing—nada—zilch. Would you consider this accurate or fair? Of course not and it seems so obvious that something is amiss.
The winner-takes-all aspect used for our presidential elections causes the same result. All of a state’s voting representation (electoral votes) is cast for one majority winning candidate. The minority vote representation is lost.
Capturing the minority voice is a critical component of our democracy. The winner-takes-all cancer silences it on a state-by-state basis.
Winner-takes-all forces a risky bet
When a state uses the winner-takes-all approach, the state’s electoral votes are cast for whichever candidate captures the most popular votes. My home state of Oregon, for example, in recent typical elections, has cast all seven of its votes for the Democrat. Yet, truth be told, the elections are close and almost 50% of the votes (think of the 99 point visitor from above) are not represented! Those votes are essentially stolen due to the winner-takes-all process. The cancer strikes in every election!
Many legislators and political pundits favor the winner-takes-all approach. It gives them an easy calculus to use in determining their potential for winning. And, everyone does it anyway (yes, all 50 states including Maine and Nebraska use it). Meanwhile, imagine your legislative leaders (those who could change the system) willingly gathering around the craps table of an election and putting all chips in. They’re hoping to win it all. It’s a gamble and it’s a play using your vote as a chip in the game. It’s high stakes and it relentlessly acts like a cancer.
Winner-takes-all discourages voter turnout
Many today disfavor the Electoral College because of the results discussed above. The effectiveness of anyone’s vote (it being counted and represented) is dependent upon which state they call home. Do you live in a red or blue state? Yes, it makes a difference and no, it does not reflect well on our democracy.
This ongoing cancerous effect pushes people away. I know, for example, many Republicans don’t bother voting in Oregon because they know their vote will be cast aside due to the Democratic advantage. Some Democrats, likewise, are not eager to vote in predominantly red states. Voter turnout is adversely affected by this phenomenon.
The winner-takes-all cancer is not part of the Electoral College
We love our tumor! While I joke about how we seem eager to protect the cancer of the winner-takes-all approach, it is a serious matter. We tend to ignore it because it’s been with us for over 13 decades. The tumor is so ever-present that it’s difficult to realize it is not part of the Electoral College! Somehow it has so effectively metastasized that it’s hard to think of a cure—a way to preserve the Electoral College without radical surgery.
Equal Voice Voting removes the winner-takes-all cancer
Equal Voice Voting can excise the winner-takes-all tumor and restore health to our presidential election process. Further, it can do so on a state-by-state basis, without any kind of compact or collusion with other states.
The Equal Voice Voting promise:
- Every vote counts. Every vote cast in a state is counted and affects the Electoral College representative result.
- Every state matters. Every state using Equal Voice Voting casts a true representative voting voice and becomes important for every candidate’s attention.
- It’s fair. It’s democratic. It honors our democracy.
Why not return to the wisdom of our Founding Fathers when they crafted the Electoral College? Why endure this winner-takes-all cancerous growth that hamstrings our presidential elections?
Please share this blog with others. Discuss the merits of the Electoral College and urge our political leaders to rid ourselves of this presidential voting cancer.