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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Elect The Electors

    On Tuesday, November 4, large numbers of Americans will find themselves standing on winding polling lines, some still pondering on how they should cast their vote for the 56th presidential election of the United States of America. From the current economic woes of the nation, to issues such as health care, energy independence, and the environment, this will no doubt one of the most historic and defining presidential races in the history of our over 200-year-old nation.

    There will be many candidates to choose from, with Democratic nominee Barack Obama and Republican nominee John McCain likely to divide the votes fairly evenly. Some of the third parties candidates like Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are bound pick up some of the ballots, but these will likely be minimal as the two-party system ensures a lack of competition. At any rate, the fact remains that if you’re a New York State resident then you don’t have to worry about any of this. In-fact, so long as P. Diddy doesn’t return with the menacing threat of “vote or die,” I think you’ll be just fine.

    The reason why you shouldn’t worry — or vote for that matter — is because your vote doesn’t count. I state this out of detest of an Electoral College system that depreciates the value of the individual while promoting the interests of smaller “less represented” states. After careful consideration and calculation, I’ve broken down the system into this:

    Without getting into the complex philosophical theory and technical structure of how the Electoral College functions as I’ve studied both on my own and academically, I’ll try to explain what actually happens by the end of the day when all the paper ballots and electric levers have been sorted and tallied. Simple enough is the idea that each person gets one vote. Whichever candidate ends up with the most votes, wins all the electoral votes for that state. Our home state of New York, for example, is allotted 31 electoral votes. California gets the most with 55, and several states including Montana and Alaska only receive 3. Long story short, whoever wins the most electoral votes becomes the next president of the United States of America.

    This sounds fair enough, doesn’t it?

    However, let’s look back to the 2000 election where Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College, thus losing the election to George Bush — it isn’t hard to see how a system where a man can get half a million more votes than his opponent and still lose is inherently flawed.

    The cynics against what I’m writing will argue that the Electoral College based on population distribution within each state. Too bad the presidential election isn’t about state voting, but about individuals choosing a federal president; or at least that’s how it should be. And, nobody addresses the fact that the five states that receive three votes, only get those votes because the law requires that each state has three electoral votes (two for their senators and one for the voting district). When all’s said and done, this means, for example, that a person casting a vote in Wyoming is casting a vote that is worth four times as many votes as someone casting a vote in New York State, based on population differences.

    Furthermore, the Electoral College system is a sound way to ensure lower political motivation amongst average citizens. Again, just look at New York State. If I were a betting man, I’d put all the money in my piggy bank down that Barack Obama will win New York State in the general election, therefore claiming all of the state’s 31 electoral votes. Even if I myself am able to convince tens of thousands of my fellow New Yorkers to vote for John McCain, their voices will be lost, since Barack Obama will win all the electoral points and their individual votes will not go towards deciding the national election.

    Simply said, I’m only planning to waste my time standing on line after school on a chilly Tuesday afternoon in early November for personal rather than political reasons. I always vote in local as well as national elections, though more because I feel that it’s my right as an American citizens and one of the few chances I have to play an active role in any political process.

    Maybe if you live in a battle ground states your voice will actually mean something, but as far as us New Yorkers go, don’t be fooled into thinking that your vote counts because it really doesn’t.

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