Does everyone’s vote really matter?

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Throughout the campaign of both the front-running candidates of the 2016 election, the Electoral College has been a hot-button issue. However, many Americans aren’t fully aware of how the system that determines who will be the leader of their country works.

Across the 50 states, there are 538 possible electoral votes that a candidate can obtain. For a candidate to win the Presidency, they must win at least 270 electoral votes. In the past, there have been four elections (including the most recent one) in which the President-Elect has won the most votes in the Electoral College without winning the popular vote. This answers the question this article originally asked, no, not every votes matters because of the Electoral College.

Another fact many Americans don’t know about the system that determines who will win the Presidency is that when they vote for their candidate, they are not directly voting for the candidate they want to win the Presidency. They are voting for the members of the Electoral College that were chosen by that candidate’s party who will be the ones to actually vote for the candidate. Members of the Electoral College will only get to vote for the president if their party wins the popular vote in their respective state. For example, California has 56 votes in the Electoral College. Every party has chosen 56 Electors who are strong supporters of their respective party that will vote if they get the opportunity. If the Democratic nominee wins the most votes in the state of California, then the Electors the Democratic Party chose will get to cast their vote in the election.

One may ask, “If the United States of America is supposed to be a democracy, isn’t the Electoral College a violation of our American Ideals?” The answer is yes. In a true democracy, every vote matters, not just the votes cast by a system designed by our Founding Fathers to limit the amount of power the average American citizen has. However, the Electoral College does serve a purpose. It gives states with a smaller population more say in who will become the President-Elect, hence our status as a Republic. For example, California is the most populous state in the Union. Without the Electoral College, candidates would spend all their time campaigning in the more densely populated states in the Union, such as California, Texas, New York, and Florida. States with smaller populations, such as Vermont and Wyoming, would get almost no attention on the campaign trail. The Electoral College ensures that the most populous states aren’t the only ones with power over the election.

It is evident that not every vote truly matters because of the Electoral College, but it ensures that the largest states don’t have too much power, and little states have enough power. Is the Electoral College a flawless system? No, but it is a necessary evil when it comes to maintaining the distribution of power across the States.