In 40 States, Your Vote Doesn’t Matter

Are you ready to rock the vote? Are you ready to exercise the fundamental right of electoral democracy? Are you ready to choose the next President of the United States?

If you live in 10 of these United States, then congratulations! Your big day is coming on November 6!

If you are not registered to vote in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or Wisconsin…then, sorry. Your chad may be left hanging.

Don’t shoot the messenger. Blame the Electoral College system. In 48 states (Main and Nebraska are the only exceptions), the winner of the popular vote in that state receives all of its respective Electoral College votes. And the campaigns already know who is going to win 40 of those state-level contests.

The reality is that in those 80% of the states, the Romney and Obama campaigns are expending as little energy and resources as possible. Statistical models show that, barring some unforeseen event, Romney will win Tennessee and Texas, and Obama will win Connecticut and California. If you live in one of these strongly red or strongly blue—read predetermined—states, then the only time you’re seeing a presidential candidate between now and Election Day is if he is fundraising in your backyard. And he will spend that money he raises in your neighborhood on TV ads and ground organization in those other 10 states.

A hard fact of modern campaigning: only “battleground states” matter. The other states just cancel each other out.

If you want every vote in your state to matter (including your vote!), you have two basic action steps:

1) Talk to your congressman about amending the Constitution to alter the Electoral College system. If you want to abolish the Electoral College, then advocate for its abolition. If you want to see it modified more incrementally, then push your plan. You’ll be ahead of the game, because the odds are good that the Electoral College will be a major news item on November 7.

2) Make your state less predictable in its voting patterns. Work to make the minority party (or a third party) a viable option in your state. A battleground requires a battle, and a battle requires soldiers.

About Ben Ponder, Editor-at-Large

Ben Ponder, PhD, is Editor-at-Large at Media Rostra. Ben has received decorative pieces of paper conferring upon him an unnamed set of “rights and privileges accorded thereto” from the University of Arkansas, Regent College, and Northwestern University (where he was a Presidential Fellow). He studied (in alphabetical order) architecture, classics, communication, history, political science, rhetoric, and theology. He is the author of American Independence: From Common Sense to the Declaration (“Sizzling.” – TMZ) and the co-editor of Making the Case: Advocacy and Judgment in Public Argument (“Six-pack abs-olutely great!” – US Weekly). Ben is currently an executive in the educational software industry. He and his organic wife, Amy, live with their four free-range kids in a farmhouse Ben designed and built. His personal site on the Interweb is benponder.com, and he can be reached on Twitter @ponderben.