COLUMN: Imagine no electoral college — it's easy if you try
- Yes 81%
- No 19%
36 total votes.
Another year, another election, another campaign urging us to “rock the vote.”
Politics has always fascinated me, but it's hard to get interested in the presidential election. I know my vote doesn't matter. A vote for incumbent President Barack Obama, a vote for Republican contender Mitt Romney — neither one matters. No, not because I am just one lonely man with a single vote, but because of where I live.
As an occasionally left-leaning citizen, I know that in Oklahoma, it doesn't matter who I vote for. If I vote for Romney, I'll just go along with what the rest of conservative Oklahoma will choose. In the 2008 election, we were the only state that voted in favor of Republican candidate John McCain in every single county.
We're so conservative, we voted Rick Santorum to be the Republican nominee. Oklahomans may be upset Santorum didn't ultimately triumph, but I don't think they will protest by voting for Obama. Oklahomans will gladly let him keep the change.
A vote for Obama in Oklahoma is a complete waste. I am currently undecided, but I know if I vote for him, my vote will simply disappear because the majority in Oklahoma decides where all of our electoral votes go.
This is all thanks to the bizarre and uniquely American system we call the “electoral college.” If we elected the president by popular vote, my decision would make a difference. The tally would be slightly larger for one candidate because of my individual vote. What a satisfaction that would be.
The strongest argument against the electoral college in recent memory is the debacle from 2000 that culminated in the controversial Supreme Court case, Bush v. Gore. The national popular vote had already been decided and Gore won, but because of our voting system, we were forced to recount the votes in one state. Eventually the Supreme Court intervened to rule whether Bush's previously announced victory in Florida would stand. Five conservatives outvoted four liberals in favor of Bush.
In the end, nine people previously appointed by various presidents decided the next leader of the free world. The only popular vote that mattered was that of nine justices. For Bush's detractors, this one incident is enough to prove the foolishness of the electoral college. In fact, 75 percent of Democrats polled days after the judgment said they were for the abolition of the system.
Proponents of the electoral college argue that the system gives states more power. This isn't necessary. It makes more sense to count each vote individually rather than lump us arbitrarily by states. There is no reason to pit the states against each other when voting for president, and there is no reason to believe that all Oklahomans, for example, desire the same thing simply because they are Oklahomans. Yes, we are a conservative state, but obviously not every Oklahoman has the same political viewpoint.
Others argue that small states need protection, the type only the electoral college can give them. This idea is outdated. Back in the time of the Founding Fathers, states were fiercely independent and competitive. For this reason, the Great Compromise of 1787 created a House based on state population and a Senate based on equal representation from every state. We don't experience these came conflicts anymore.
Big states like Texas and California don't “gang up” on the Rhode Islands and Wyomings of America. If anything, the little states gang up on the big ones.
In 2000, for example, California received one electoral vote for every 615,848 people while Wyoming received one electoral vote for every 164,594 people. That means every Wyomingite's vote was worth more than three times as much as a Californian's. That simply isn't a fair democracy.
Furthermore, the votes in swing states count for more than they do in a tried-and-true red or blue state's. Ohio and Pennsylvania receive extra attention due to their tendency to go either red or blue depending on the year and the candidates. Oklahoma receives nothing in the way of political campaigning; everyone already knows where our votes will go.
Yes, the Founding Fathers were brilliant, but they didn't foresee a country of 50 states and a population of 300 million in the future. It's time for the popular vote to reign. After all, 62 percent of Americans are for it, though that statistic may be irrelevant to one who views the popular vote with disdain. Following the popular vote is a clear and fair way to elect the president.
Tom Rains is a Spanish senior.