According to the US Census, 3.044 million people turned out to vote in Massachusetts in the 2008 election, representing 67.1% of the state’s population. The census also reports that 708 thousand people voted in New Hampshire in that election, 71.2% of the state.
According to CNN, about $47 thousand was spent in Massachusetts in the 2008 election, including a whopping zero dollars by Republican candidate John McCain or his supporting groups. By contrast, $19.1 million was spent in New Hampshire.
A little bit of division shows that 1.5 cents were spent per Massachusetts voter; the candidates spent $26.98 per voter in New Hampshire.
The fact that a New Hampshire vote is worth approximately 1800 times as much as a Massachusetts vote shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to politics in the US. The 2012 elections will have similar, if not more extreme, results. And I blame the Electoral College.
I’ve never been a big fan of the Electoral College- it always seemed unnecessary to me. Now that I’m old enough, I’ve grown to resent its role in the presidential elections, because I feel as though it robs me of my vote. My ballot, cast in deeply Democratic Massachusetts, is unlikely to change the election; a town with a population smaller than BU could decide whether New Hampshire goes to Obama or Romney, and those four electoral votes could be the only difference in our next president. Naturally, one takes priority over the other.
I don’t blame the candidates- they want to win, and the way to win is to play to the Electoral College. But that system takes an election that should account for every citizen and gives the decision almost exclusively to fewer than a dozen states. I’m lucky enough to have the time to volunteer for a campaign and have my voice heard that way. Most people are not that lucky.
The College in its current form served a purpose once upon a time, but no more. The United States needs a new way to elect its president, something that serves to make everyone feel like their vote is worth something. Otherwise, a presidential election is not a national choice. Every American needs to be able to have an equal say in the country’s leadership. Putting something so important in the hands of so few is the opposite of democracy.