Every Vote Counts


By Don Westen

Contrary to popular belief, the United States of America is not ruled by one centralized government. In fact, the name “United States” is quite literal.  The United States of America is comprised of 50 state governments united under 1, equal, federal government. When we elect a chief executive (the President), each state casts a vote that is worth a number of points dependent upon that state’s population. States with larger populations, such as California and New York, are worth more points than states with smaller populations, like Alaska and Georgia. Individuals cast their vote within their state. That state then tallies up their votes and the winner of the state earns that state’s point total.  These point totals are then used to determine electors, or state representatives, who then vote for President during their own election in January of the year following the election.  The candidate whose point total, and subsequent Electoral College votes, exceeds 270 automatically wins the national election.

The misunderstandings of this process originate with the false assertion that the United States has just one government.  According to the Constitution, the ultimate law-of-the-land, each state has its own autonomous government. It is the responsibility of the populace of a state to determine how a state will vote. When a citizen votes, their decision is counted toward making that determination.  We don’t vote for President as individuals. We vote for President as states.

Our process works as it does precisely in the interest of fairness. When a President is elected without the Electoral College vote agreeing with the “popular vote,” some may feel as though their vote doesn’t count.  After all, if more people voted for one candidate overall, that individual should win right?

Let’s consider, for a moment, another option.  What if the vote totals were considered based upon land mass? Aren’t larger states more important than smaller states? Of course not. The same is true of the “popular” vote.  If the states with the largest populations decided the Presidency, then the President would only be decided by those few states. This process would work well if the “United States of America” was more like the “Federation of America,” and we had only one government. Instead, we have individual states who made an agreement to unify under the ideas of a national defense and a streamlined currency. No state gave up its right to autonomy when it joined the union, and that doesn’t change just because some people today find that fact inconvenient.

When citizens truly want to make change, the answer is always the same, regardless of the subject- The US Constitution.

To make any change to the Constitution, 38 of 50 states must agree. The only legitimate way to change the electoral process in the United States is to convince the state legislature to participate in a Convention of States (article 5 of the Constitution) and to vote for the necessary constitutional amendment. There is absolutely no other legal method of creating this type of change.

When properly applied, the Constitution of the United States works for everyone. The true agent of change within the federalist system is knowledge. Educate yourself about the Constitution: how it works and why it works. The Constitution is here to protect us. Ignoring it or tossing it aside only opens the citizenry up for dominance, which only those in power truly want.