How much did YOUR vote count? Because of the Electoral College, a vote from Wyoming is worth 3.8 times as much as a vote from California. This table shows a state by state comparison of the power of each vote. The column on the right represents how much a vote is worth, compared to how much it would be worth if all votes were treated equally. Note, if the United States simply used the Popular Vote to decide elections, all the numbers in the right column would be "1.00".

State Population Electors People Per Elector Vote Power
Wyoming 479602 3 159867 3.17
D.C 519000 3 173000 2.93
Vermont 593740 3 197913 2.56
Alaska 619500 3 206500 2.45
North Dakota 633666 3 211222 2.40
South Dakota 733133 3 244378 2.07
Rhode Island 990819 4 247705 2.05
Delaware 753538 3 251179 2.02
Montana 882779 3 294260 1.72
Hawaii 1185497 4 296374 1.71
New Hampshire 1201134 4 300284 1.69
Idaho 1251700 4 312925 1.62
Maine 1253040 4 313260 1.62
Nebraska 1666028 5 333206 1.52
New Mexico 1739844 5 347969 1.46
West Virginia 1806928 5 361386 1.40
Mississippi 2768619 7 395517 1.28
Iowa 2869413 7 409916 1.24
Connecticut 3282031 8 410254 1.24
Oklahoma 3358044 8 419756 1.21
Arkansas 2551373 6 425229 1.19
Utah 2129836 5 425967 1.19
Kansas 2654052 6 442342 1.15
Nevada 1809253 4 452313 1.12
Oregon 3316154 7 473736 1.07
Wisconsin 5250446 11 477313 1.06
Minnesota 4775508 10 477551 1.06
Alabama 4369862 9 485540 1.04
South Carolina 3885736 8 485717 1.04
Louisiana 4372035 9 485781 1.04
Kentucky 3960825 8 495103 1.02
Indiana 5942901 12 495242 1.02
Missouri 5468338 11 497121 1.02
Tennessee 5483535 11 498503 1.02
Colorado 4056133 8 507017 1.00
Massachusetts 6175169 12 514597 0.98
Maryland 5171634 10 517163 0.98
Pennsylvania 11994016 23 521479 0.97
Washington 5756361 11 523306 0.97
Virginia 6872912 13 528686 0.96
Ohio 11256654 21 536031 0.95
New Jersey 8143412 15 542894 0.93
North Carolina 7650789 14 546485 0.93
Michigan 9863775 18 547988 0.92
Illinois 12128370 22 551290 0.92
New York 18196601 33 551412 0.92
Arizona 4778332 8 597292 0.85
Georgia 7788240 13 599095 0.85
Florida 15111244 25 604450 0.84
California 33145121 54 613796 0.83
Texas 20044141 32 626379 0.81

The way the "vote power" column was calculated is as follows. The United States has a population of 272,690,813. (Population numbers are taken from the US Census 1999 estimate, from this page.) Since there are 538 Electors in the Electoral College, the average Elector represents about 506,860. The large (in population) states are given approximately about as many Electors as is proportionate to their population. However, the smaller states are given up to 3 times as many Electors as they should get if they were handed out proportionately to their population. If you divide they average number of People Per Elector (506,860) by the People Per Elector from a particular state, you get the number of effective votes per person for that state. For example, from Wyoming, divide 506,860 by 159,867 and you see that a vote from Wyoming is worth about 3.17 times as much as the average American's vote.

An alternate way to do the calculation would be to divide the percent of the Electoral Vote the state takes up by the percent of the national population it takes up. Wyoming makes up 3/538 of the Electoral College, or about 0.558%. However, it only makes up (479,602 / 272,690,813) = 0.176% of the national vote. Divide those two numbers and you see that Wyoming's voters count (0.558% / 0.176%) = 3.17 times as much as they should if all votes were treated equally. Either way you do the calculation, you should get the same answer.

Is this fair?

Is it fair that 0.176% of the population (Wyoming) gets 0.558% voting power of who gets to be the next president? Or how about the people of California, who make up 12% of the country, but only get 10% of the Electoral Votes?

Winning the Popular Vote by 13% and still losing the election

Based on the fact that the Electoral College makes some Americans' votes more than others (votes from smaller states are generally worth more than votes from larger states), it is possible for one Candidate A to get 56.5% of the popular vote and still lose to Candidate B, who only got 43.5%.

Let's say Candidate A wins eleven of the most populous states: Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, New York, Texas, and California. These states represent 56.5% of the population (154,051,863 people), but only 268 Electoral College votes. Candidate B wins the rest of the states (including D.C.), which represent 43.5% of the population (118,638,950 people) and 270 Electoral College votes, giving him (or her) the election.

Candidate A - 56.5% of popular vote, 268 Electoral Votes
Candidate B - 43.5% of popular vote, 270 Electoral Votes

Is it fair that someone could win the Popular Vote by a 13% margin and still lose the election?


Even Worse: Winning the Popular Vote by 56.5% and still losing the election

If we take into account that each state gives ALL of their Electoral Votes to a single candidate, even when he wins by a single vote, things get even worse. If Candidate B won Wyoming by a single vote (239,801 to 239,800) he would still get all 3 of Wyoming's Electors. Assuming this happened in all of Candidate B's states (winning each one by 50.001%), and assuming Candidate A won all of his states 100% to nothing, the margin gets a lot bigger. Candidate A could get 78.25% of the Popular Vote and still lose, compared to Candidate B's only 21.75%.

Candidate A - 78.25% of popular vote, 268 Electoral Votes
Candidate B - 21.75% of popular vote, 270 Electoral Votes

Does it seem fair that someone could win the Popular Vote by a 56.5% margin and still lose the election? Candidate A could get more than THREE TIMES as many popular votes as Candidate B and still LOSE the election. Does this seem like equal protection under the law?


Election 2000

Right now Gore leads by over 250,000 votes in the Popular Vote, but Bush could win the Electoral Vote if Florida goes his way. In the example above, the candidate who won by 56.5% of the Popular Vote still lost the election. With Candidate B winning even though the popular vote was 21.75% to 78.25%, THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE was CLEARLY disregarded. The votes of the extra 56.5% of the population who voted for Candidate A were not heard because of the unfair way the votes are counted into the Electoral College. Those voters were cheated, and their votes were not treated fairly. While not nearly as extreme as this example, the extra 250,000 people (about 1% of the population) who voted for Gore were also cheated, because their votes were not treated equally. Not unless the votes are given equal power, and every American voter is given equal protection under the law, is the will of the people honored.

This Electoral College analysis was done by Robert Glen.

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