Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Unequal States of America

If you live in Wyoming your vote is worth 3.64 times more than a voter in California. This is because of the uneven spread of electors per state in the United States. Wyoming has more votes in the Electoral College per registered voter than any other state.

With the 2020 Presidential election looming large on the horizon it seems like a good idea to look once again at the peculiarities of America's Electoral College. U.S. Presidents are not directly elected by the voters. The President and Vice-President are elected by the Electoral College. Voters in each state vote to select a set of electors to sit on the Electoral College. However the number of electors that each state has is not proportional to the population of each state. This results in a strange situation where every American's vote is not equal. Some votes count more than others - and the weight of your vote is entirely dependent on where you live.

You can see how much your vote is worth compared to voters in other states on Heinrich Hartmann's Electoral College map. Click on a state on this map to see how one vote in that state compares to the votes in other states. After you click on a state all the other states are colored to show whether their votes are worth more or less than your selected state. You can then hover over individual states to see the exact comparison of votes between two states.

You can learn more behind the history of America's Electoral College system on What's Your Vote Worth. What's Your Vote Worth is an interactive story map which explores the history of America's voting system, the right to vote and how voter representation is skewed under the present system and map. The story map includes a choropleth view of how much one vote is worth in each state compared to Wyoming. For example, it takes 3.4 voters in Pennsylvania to equal one Wyoming voter.

After exploring the uneven voting power of different Americans What's Your Vote Worth goes on to examine how gerrymandering is used to skew your vote even more. It looks at examples of gerrymandering in a number of states. In particular it looks at examples where voting district boundaries have been redrawn to 'pack' or 'crack' votes. Packing involves redrawing boundaries so that you pack voters who tend to vote for a particular party into one district. Cracking involves diluting like minded voters into many different districts.

Petrichor GeoViz Studio examines the issues behind their interactive map in more detail in an article called What Your Personal Geography Means to Your Voting Power.

FiveThirtyEight, as part of its Gerrymandering Project, has had a go at redrawing America's voting districts for themselves. In the Atlas of Redistricting FiveThirtyEight has created a number of new congressional maps, each designed with a different goal in mind.

These alternative congressional maps show how voting districts could be redrawn or gerrymandered in order to favor Republicans, to favor Democrats, to promote proportionally partisan representation or to maximize the number of majority-minority districts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It drives me crazy that people keep pulling out this argument. The Electoral college has a lot of problems and I'd like to see it abolished. But, pretending that citizens of Wyoming are the beneficiaries is idiotic. No presidential candidate has every cared about Wyoming voters since Harry Truman, because the winner of their votes has never been in doubt.

The Electoral college unfairly benefits swing states, not small states.