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posted: 11/5/2012 6:00 AM

Electoral College favors small states

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Presidential elections are occasions for frustration in Illinois: We get ignored by the campaigns, the winner of our state gets all 20 of our electoral votes, no matter how close the popular vote, and we have far less clout in the Electoral College than citizens from much smaller states. It's true. The seven smallest states in population have more electoral votes than Illinois, even though they have just 41 percent as many residents. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, the Dakotas, Vermont and Wyoming have just 5.27 million people according to the 2010 census, compared to our 12.8 million. Yet those states have 21 electoral votes. The 12 least populous states also have fewer people than Illinois (11.9 million), but have more than twice as many electoral votes (41).

In other words, there is one electoral vote per 251,129 residents of the seven smallest states, compared to one electoral vote per 641,531 Illinoisans. People from those small states have more than 2.5 times the clout per resident in electing the president. Wyoming has 3.4 times has much clout per resident as Illinois.

Defenders of the status quo favor affirmative action for small states. For some reason they believe small states need the extra clout, and that reason supersedes the principle of every voter counting equally, no matter where he or she lives. What's ironic is that conservatives usually don't like affirmative action and rigid quota systems -- like the preferential treatment built into the Electoral College that comes at our expense.

There's one thing that might persuade Republicans that it's time for reform: If Romney wins the national popular vote, while Obama nevertheless wins in the Electoral College, the way George Bush did in 2000.

Paul Froehlich


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