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posted on 09 November 2016

Some Votes For President Are 'Thrown Out'

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We now have five presidential elections where the winner did not receive more popular votes than the second place finisher in the electoral college, with Hillary Clinton's margin over Donald Trump in the vicinity of 200,000 votes, if current margins hold. This follows the 2000 election where Al Gore received about 500,000 votes more than the electoral vote winner, George W. Bush.


The large disparity among the states between popular votes and electoral votes derives from the different "value" of individual votes relative to electoral votes. In an earlier article, it was shown that it is theoretically possible that a Candidate Losing The Popular Vote By 10 Million Could Become President. Actually, with high voter turnout, it would be possible for the electoral loser to have millions more advantage than 10 M.

The population and electoral votes data for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia is presented in the previous article. That data shows that the number of individual votes cast for each electoral vote increases systematically as state populations increase. Here is a graphic presentation of that data:

All votes in the U.S. for president are not valued equally. A vote in one of the three smallest states is worth as much as about 3.5 votes in one of the four largest, in terms of the electoral vote count.

Below is the data for the most populous state (California) and the least populous state (Wyoming).


The data in the table above shows that an individual vote in Wyoming is worth 3.59 as much in the electoral college as an individual vote in California (697.0/194.2).

Looking at this from a different perspective, if every vote in Wyoming were to have the same "value" as votes in every other state, then every 194,000 votes in California would produce one electoral vote and the remainder of every group of 697,000 votes would be discarded. That is based on everyone voting. If the demographics were the same and the voter turnout were the same in both states then two reference numbers would be reduced proportionately (ratios would remain the same).

Using the ratios, for every 194 votes counted in California, 502 more votes are not counted - if we were to say Californians were just as valuable as folks from Wyoming.

Stated still another way, when voting for president, it is just the same as if California threw away 72% of the votes cast.

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