Sunday, May 20, 2007

Was my vote wasted?

It is an interesting question - did it pay to vote - if your vote was for the losing candidate?

In the US presidential election, the number of electoral votes acquired by the winning candidates in each state are forwarded to Washington D.C. - where they are compiled and the total number of electoral votes won by each candidate is determined.

Losing candidates in these 49 states are not entitled to any electoral votes.

Since all of the states electoral votes are forwarded to Washington D.C. as having been won by the winning candidate, the losing candidate’s votes have in effect been transformed into votes for the winning candidate.

Should a voter favor pulling troops out of Iraq and voted for a likeminded presidential candidate who lost to a candidate favoring keeping troops in Iraq, the voter’s vote in effect would be transmitted as a vote for keeping troops in Iraq. Should a voter oppose gun control and voted for a presidential candidate who also opposed gun control but lost to a presidential candidate favoring gun control, his vote would be transmitted as a vote favoring gun control.

In most popular elections - your vote might count at least in determing how close the election was. Because of the electoral voting system in use for Presidential elections, your vote for the losing candidate effectively became a vote for the winning candidate.

About 50% of eligible voters do not vote. This does not reduce the amount of electoral votes transmitted to Washington D.C. In effect this means that non votes are transferred to Washington D.C. as votes for the winning candidate.

The total number of electoral votes transmitted to Washington (538) remains the same regardless of the number of votes cast by U.S. voters.

So - if there is a third party candidate - can he/she win? We will discuss this in our next post.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK - I understand a bit - but even if I'm pretty sure my candidate will lose - isn't it better to vote for him/her than not vote at all?

fred said...

Sounds to me like either way, whether you vote for the losing candidate, or you don't vote at all, it won't help or hurt the winning candidate. Correct?

Philip W said...

Answer to anonymous.

Whether you vote for a losing presidential candidate or do not vote, these votes are transferred to Washington D.C. as votes for the winning candidate. Though you might have agreed with the policies of the losing candidate --the net effect is to show that you agree with the policies of the winning candidate.

NOT VOTING DOES NOT SOLVE THIS
PROBLEM, 538 electoral votes will be transferred to Washington D.C.
whether you voted or not.

The solution to this problem is to eliminate the "Winner Take All"
portion of the Electoral voting system. The allocation of Electoral
votes to each state would remain the same in order not to antagonize
the less populated states. The electoral votes won be each candidate would be prorated based on the popular votes acquired by each candidate within each state and it would still require 270 electoral votes to elect a president.

Philip W said...

Answer to Fred.

Whether you vote for a losing candidate or do not vote at all, the winning candidate will be credited with your vote. The losing candidate cannot be helped by your vote or non vote.