# pro electoral college _Discover_ article

Mike Ossipoff dfb at bbs.cruzio.com
Sat Oct 19 18:41:03 PDT 1996

```Have you checked out the current issue of _Discover_ magazine?

It's probably the "November" issue. But on the cover, one of its
article "headlines" says something like:

"How mathematics makes sure that your vote will count"

So then, when you find the article, how does mathematics do
that? By the electoral college :-)

The article goes on & on about it, with the mathematical discussion
interspersed with the usual tremendous amount of folksy filler
material, making for a many page article in which there's no 1
paragraph where the author actually makes his point concisely and
demonstrates his case.

But, though I couldn't find a place where the author clearly says
what he means in one paragraph, it seemed to me that the gist of
it is that, with the electoral college, your vote counts more
because you're in a smaller voting group (a state), that means that
your vote has a greater chance of being the one that changes the
result in that smaller count. (Never mind the fact that the
smaller count in which your vote is more important is a smaller
and therefore less important count).

***

With a direct popular vote, voters in any state, or dispersed
in anyway among the states, have equal opportunity to combine
their votes to make someone win. Anyone, anywhere, with the
same number of voters agreeing with him/her has exactly the
same opportunity to accomplish that, with a direct popular
vote. Which means that, in that important sense, everyone's
vote counts equally.

So what the electoral college's "mathematics" does is make it
so that your vote _doesn't_ count equally.

***

Does anyone know a web site that tells how many electoral votes
the various states have? We  on EM could put together a letter
to the editor of _Discover_, in reply to that article. We could
point out things like the ones in this message, and then we
could give them an electoral college bad-example, with a really
ridiculous result.

To do that: The states with fewest electoral votes are the ones
with the most electoral votes per person, since it's the HR
electoral votes that tend to even things out, and the free
Senatorial ones that distort the electoral votes per person.

So we'd start with the smallest states, and, in, say, a 5-
candidate race, give candidate  X a bare plurality in each
of those states, just barely over 1/5 of the total vote
in each of those smallest states, starting with the smallest,
& contining till candidate X has more than half of all the
electoral votes. Then, in the remaining states, the bigger
ones, we'd give all the popular votes to candidate Y.

We'd include this bad-example in our letter to _Discover_.

***

Additionally, the letter could include another bad-example, one
that shows that the problem can exist even if all the states were
the same. We'd assume 50 equal states. We'd round the total
electoral votes to 550 & give each state 11. And we'd show how,
even then, the results could be distorted and could make your
vote not count equally.

***

Then, the letter could mention that there are better ways to
elect a President. It could mention rank-balloting, and
the idea of your ranking giving to each of its candidates
a vote that counts against everyone not ranked higher in that
ranking. People on the street have understood that well.

Then it could give one of the briefer statements of Condorcet's
method's rule, followed by the briefer advantages of that rule,
such as votes-against being exactly what the negative voter,
the LO2E voter, who wants mainly to vote against someone, wants;
and a brief statement of the basic democratic principle that
isn't respected by any other method.

***

So, does anyone know of a web site that tells the number of
electoral votes that the various states have?

***

Mike

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