All Votes Matter – At Least They Should

We hear the claim that votes matter

The nation is now hearing the drumbeat, calling everyone to vote because all votes matter. That’s the battle cry, so to speak. Perhaps you have already voted. Perhaps you’re calling people to do so – checking up on neighborhoods. Perhaps you are even checking with relatives and friends, making sure their vote is heard. Because, after all, their votes matter.

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A look back at blue states that mattered

Last week I showed some voting numbers taken from the 2016 presidential election, showing how the current swing states fared at that time. The intent was to alert you to how close some state elections are and, especially, how vote suppression hides how the nation really votes.

The states I chose, the current swing states, all voted for Trump that year. In an attempt to give fair time to states that voted for Clinton in 2016, this blog focuses on four states that favored her that year. They are: Colorado, New Hampshire, Oregon (my home state), and Virginia.

The current polling, as provided by FiveThirtyEight, one of the best voting prognosticators we have, tells us how close the election is in these four states. Here are the results:

  • Colorado – Biden is ahead by 16% to 19%
  • New Hampshire – Biden is ahead by 12% to 13%
  • Oregon – Biden is ahead by 20% to 22%
  • Virginia – Biden is ahead by 13% to 14%

I selected these four states because their elections in 2016 were relatively close. Their margins seem to be widening for Biden at this time, but the last election revealed a different picture.

Voting differences that mattered

While the Electoral College map painted each of them blue last time, the voting perspective internally was quite different than being a stark contrast between the two candidates. The table shown here shows the number of votes that separated the two candidates, the voting differences or margins. The percentage column shows the vote percentage these votes represent when compared to the popular votes cast within the state.

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All four of these states had close presidential election races. Only 570,855 votes separated the two candidates, cumulatively, in these four states.

The average voting difference percentage is a mere 5.39%, which shows how close the voting was in those states. It shows how much votes mattered to tip the scales in favor of Clinton versus Trump in those states.

New Hampshire wins the “Most Balanced Voting” prize with less than a half percent difference. Oregon delivered the widest margin with almost an 11% difference, which seems like a wide margin when compared with the three other states shown here. Still, Oregon cannot claim the “Most Unbalanced Voting” prize, since other states ran away with that award. Virginia wins the “Average” placement among the four with a voting margin that almost matches the average.

Suppressed votes that should have mattered

When states have close presidential election results, as these four did, rest assured that all votes did not matter. Sure, all votes were counted (tallied up), but many votes failed to gain any Electoral College representation. Many votes were suppressed and the state failed to provide an accurate representation of the voting sentiment.

The table shown here reveals how many votes were suppressed, gaining no Electoral College representation, in the four states. Oregon suppressed almost half of its voters while the other three did worse than that.

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While we say that all votes matter, it’s obvious that many (more than half in our four-state example) do not. Sure, they are counted and a candidate “wins” the state, but many ballots are cast aside, never being counted in the Electoral College. Those votes did not matter!

Equal Voice Voting makes all votes matter

The reason is simple. Every state and the District of Columbia use a Winner-Takes-All (WTA) approach. BEFORE the Electoral College is engaged to apportion its electoral votes on a state-by-state basis, these governing jurisdictions separate the winner from the losers. They silence large portions of their voting constituents. An average “silencing” of 51.3%, as shown in the table, is a voting atrocity. It is not democratic. It is not inclusive. It is not fair.

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) erases the WTA problem and truly makes all votes matter. This table shows that when all votes matter – truly matter – the distribution of electoral votes aligns with the popular votes cast in each state.

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Here are the questions we need to ask: Why should we ignore the true sentiment of the voters when we elect the president? Why should we be guilty of vote suppression while we claim to be a representative democracy? Why can we not be more inclusive and fairer in our voting practices when so much hangs in the balance?

Those questions, and their answers, bring us to a hard truth about our democracy: We must be willing to let everyone’s voting voice be heard. While in power, it’s too easy to deny others their right to the ballot box (exercising voter suppression) or to ignore ballots cast (vote suppression). We must be willing to exercise our freedom and our liberty for us, our friends, our family, our neighbors, and our posterity.

For now, we vote. We vote as if all votes matter while we ignore those we silence. The election matters, the winner matters; but we cannot say every vote is included in the Electoral College process. It matters that we leave so many out!

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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