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Do Polling Numbers Really Matter?

When I was younger, I had an idealistic view of the political system. I was told that every vote counts and that the numbers never lie. I remember my first time voting and feeling s sense of empowerment and a sense that my one vote could change the course of history. Then the election of 2000 happened. My bubble burst. Since that time, I have come to see more and more that the numbers and the American voice is turning into a suggestive chant rather than a demanding roar. Here is why.

The Electoral College decides the winner

If you go to the electoral website, you will see how the political numbers really pan out. And where you would think that all states would be divided up somewhat evenly, they are not. Texas and California get nearly 35% of the 270 votes needed to secure the Presidency (55 for California and 38 for Texas). Other states only are allotted 3 electoral votes. Needless to say, it is a bit skewed. To put this into perspective, if a President wins California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio they have 160 of the votes already. And this is only 5 states! However, say a candidate wins Georgia, Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Alaska, Louisiana, and Nevada. That candidate would only have 53 votes even though they won 8 states.

Polls are not indicators of the winner

According to the polls prior to the Iowa Caucus, Donald Trump was way ahead of Ted Cruz. It seemed that the win would clearly go to Donald Trump. However, when the results came in Ted Cruz was on top, Donald Trump was Second, and Rubio was third. Granted, the choice to not go to the debate may have shifted the numbers a bit, but even so the numbers (if you go according to the polls) should not have shifted enough to cause Trump to loose.

How this affects our voting perceptions

Unfortunately, as this presidential election is heating up voting is going down. According to a report on the 2012 election, the numbers were down to 57.5% of eligible voters where in 2008 the voters were at 62.3%[1] Could it be that there has been so many recounts and electoral decisions that the American Public has grown tired of the whole process? It would appear so. In a recent report by Reuters/lpsos both the republican and the democratic percentage points have seen a deficit in those likely to vote in 2016.[2] In another poll held in 2014[3] it was reported that 6 out of 10 voting age adults would not show up to vote. The New York Times documented that “citizens doubt anything they say or do will change the world for their benefit. Or viewing it from another perspective, politicians rarely offer disillusioned citizens reasons for optimism”

So what do we need?

My question is why do we need to have the Electoral College in the first place? With the technology that is available today, every person can have his or her voice heard. Should the Electoral College be substituted for a total dependence upon the American people to decide its leaders, then maybe just maybe the voice of the people would chant a bit louder. Sure, there are some that will claim that the Electoral College always sides with the voters, but that only goes to prove my point. If the American people have already decided the winner, then why do you need to have the college. It is a bit redundant. On the other hand, if you have a college that determines the votes based upon their own wants and needs and only takes the voting as a suggestion then why vote? Either way I do not see a point in having it.

Let us consider having a system in which the registered voter shows their ID, they verify that they can vote, and then they cast a ballot on a secured digital voting format. Tallying the votes would be instantaneous and the winner would be clear. People would be encouraged and empowered again to have the vision of being the one person that changed history, that there vote counted for something other than a suggestion, and that their state has the same weight as any other. Sound familiar? This is what we already have in place. The problem is that we have added to the process to make it more political and less public than it needs to be. Should we minimize the complexity of a voting system that is for the people and by the people instead of for the politicians suggested by the public, our nation will be stronger for it.

[1] http://bipartisanpolicy.org/library/2012-voter-turnout/

[2] https://politicalwire.com/2016/01/01/republicans-less-likely-to-vote-in-2016/

[3] https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2014/11/06/100627/why-young-minority-and-low-income-citizens-dont-vote/

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