The Fiction Of One Person One Vote
It’s common to hear a bit of fiction when it comes to politics. Truths are stretched, exaggerations abound, and made-up stories are everywhere. Fiction seems to come with the territory.
When we elect a candidate to a local or state office, every person gets one vote. It’s the way our democracy works on a local level.
Sadly, the National Popular Vote (NPV) folks have taken that bit of truth and spun it to form a highly misleading (though catchy) slogan. Perhaps you’ve seen it in their literature or on a t-shirt, such as the one below:
The idea is that every person should have one vote when it comes to electing our president. That’s a great idea! Every voting citizen should get one vote when they vote for a president. Currently, we each get one ballot but then unequal treatment ensues when votes are counted.
Electoral Results Prompt The Call For Change
The Electoral College results, though, may make many believe it’s not democratic in its process. Many feel this way, especially among today’s Democrats who are greatly chagrined by recent voting results. The 2000 and 2016 elections had candidates capturing most of the popular votes but not the presidency via electoral vote totals.
Is the process rigged? Is it antiquated?
The reactions are that something must be done to correct the problem. The NPV bill promises to remedy the situation. It uses a rather shortsighted idea and foists it upon an unsuspecting public via a snappy slogan based on fiction.
Here’s the background: The number of electoral votes needed to win the presidency is 270. NPV seeks to have enough states join a multi-state compact (agreement made among a group of states) to equate to or exceed the 270 electoral vote threshold. Then these states will cast all of their electoral votes to whomever wins the most popular votes across the nation (hence the name), regardless of how their constituents vote.
Sounds simple, right?
The NPV Fiction
But there’s more to the story. The NPV bill does NOT replace or modify the Electoral College. That means that the popular votes are still translated (reduced in number) into electoral votes via the Electoral College. Though the NPV is an attempt to circumvent (end run?) the Electoral College, it is assumed that only popular votes matter.
It’s not true.
Let’s look again at the “one person one vote” idea using Oregon, my home state, as an example.
Assume Oregon signs onto the NPV idea and becomes part of the multi-state compact. Let’s assume, too, that enough other states join the compact so the NPV idea goes into effect (270 electoral votes, collectively). Over two million Oregon voters cast presidential ballots in the 2016 election. Yet, only seven electoral votes were cast from Oregon (as usual). If NPV is in effect in future presidential elections, that same vote translation (2,000,000+ votes into 7) will still be in effect for Oregon.
All of that process and concern still remains! NPV will not and cannot deliver on its promise that one person equates to one vote! Even if all 50 states and Washington, D.C. participate in the compact, the nation’s millions of popular votes will still be translated into 538 electoral votes. One person? One vote?
What will happen to the line of fiction we are being told?
Learning The Truth About The Electoral College
To comprehend how NPV works and to still believe it delivers on its promise of “one person one vote” reveals ignorance of how the Electoral College really works or of its purpose.
We rightfully pride ourselves on being a democracy wherein the power of governance comes from the people. Few, though, understand that our nation is a constitutional republic. That means we are comprised of 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each state has its own system of governance, much as an individual country. Each state has its Executive (Governor), Congressional, and Judicial branches, similar to our Federal government in Washington.
The Founding Fathers were challenged to find a mechanism that captures the democratic voice of all voting citizens as well as that of the separate, equal, and individual states. Today, each state respectively weighs in with its allocated contribution of electoral votes to reflect the sentiment of its people on a state-by-state basis. Thus, the ingenious idea of the Electoral College emerged.
Winner-Takes-All Spoils Voting Results
Another convention was added to the process in the 1880’s. It’s called the winner-takes-all. (See A Cancer Is Attacking Our Presidential Elections.) It simply means that whichever candidate wins the plurality of votes in a given state, that candidate gets all of the state’s electoral votes (minority votes be damned!).
Notice that the winner-takes-all piece is not a concept added within the Electoral College. The winner-takes-all notion lives outside of the Electoral College, spoiling the voting results before the Electoral College can even be engaged. It’s the reason why many may vote in a state but never see their choice reflected in the Electoral College results. Representative democracy is spoiled at the ballot box!
Illustrating how “one person one vote” cannot be realized, I showed some scenarios that could have occurred if NPV were used in an earlier blog. (See NPV Vote Disparity Gives Us Warning.)
Equal Voice Voting Stands For Truth In Voting
Equal Voice Voting allows the Electoral College to work as it was intended. It ensures:
- Every vote counts!
- Every state matters!
These are promises that can be kept. They are not pieces of fiction. Let others know that Equal Voice Voting can work for you, no matter which state you live in. Equal Voice Voting requires neither a constitutional amendment nor a multi-state compact. It allows the Electoral College – that ingenious system – to work as it was meant to for all of us!