Monday, May 20, 2024

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: The Popular Vote Debate

*If the popular vote in a national election is as meaningless to the end result as people claim, why are so many focused on it? Could it be commentators and political pollsters who were wrong about Hillary Clinton’s predicted win are trying to validate their existence by continuing to debate a moot point? The truth is they can’t even forecast a fart in the wind let alone predict how millions of people are going to feel about something so emotional as choosing a president when there are so many variables.

Every time elections don’t go as planned Bush/Gore , Obama/Romney, Trump/Bush (primary results) and now Trump/Clinton talking heads line up to fill newspapers and broadcast air time with self-validation excuses about how their predicted candidate won the popular vote, even though s/he lost the electoral college vote.

steffanie rivers
Steffanie Rivers

Instead, the conversation should be about how its not enough to just vote in an election. If that was enough the winner would be determined by the popular vote. Yet, somebody decided long ago that simple math wasn’t simple enough. Because of how votes are tallied in U.S. national elections, the focus should be on early voting: the early voter determines election results.

The way the electoral college works, each state has a certain number of electoral votes assigned to it. The number of electoral votes is determined based on the population of that state. California, Florida, New York and Texas have more electoral votes because they have larger populations. Once a certain number of voters cast their ballot for a candidate (whether democrat or republican) that candidate gets to claim all the ‘electoral votes’ for that state. The popular vote (simple math) is counted, but it doesn’t matter.

So, even though polls are open until 7pm around the country for most elections, including national elections, voters who show up at the end of the day rather than at the beginning of the day participate in the process (proverbial pat on the back for a good job), but their vote is (for all intents and purposes) meaningless. The electoral votes already have been assigned to a candidate.

That’s how a candidate who has the qualifications of Clinton can be beaten by someone as unqualified as Trump. He knows most people vote with their hearts and emotions instead of with their brains and logic. And if you push their emotional hot buttons long enough they will run to the polls early before logical people get out of bed.

Enough talk about the popular vote! Unless we plan to change the system it’s a moot point.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] for comments, questions and speaking inquiries.


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