Because you are so *freaking* special, I thought I’d treat you to a section from my essay:

While this is one of the advantages of the Electoral College system, it also serves as a significant disadvantage: variations in the weight of individual votes across different states still exist and are, in fact, exacerbated by the Electoral College system.  Rather than favouring large states, it favours both small and swing states, which has significant implications for policy and governance.

The disparity, between states, of per-capita representation in the Electoral College has long been the subject of criticism.  The allocation of votes based on number of representatives in both houses of Congress- not merely the House of Representatives, the composition of which reflects state populations- means that small states have a much smaller ratio of electors to citizens, or electors to votes cast.

Statistician Nate Silver calculated that, based on population projections, Wyoming had 176,885 residents per electoral vote cast in the 2008 presidential election.  District of Columbia, Vermont, North Dakota and Alaska all had fewer than 250,000 residents per vote case (Silver: 7 June 2008).  By contrast, Texas had 759,406 residents per electoral vote.  Florida had 681,948.  California, Arizona, Georgia, New York, North Carolina and Illinois all had more than 600,000 residents per vote cast.  In fact, 29 states had a ratio greater than 500,000:1. (Silver: 7 June 2008) The votes in those 29 states were effectively, mathematically worth less than half those of the smaller states.  This inequality in voting is arguably incongruent with principles of democracy and equality.

While this more traditional understanding of the inequality of votes is certainly mathematically supported, more sophisticated models illustrate the comparative importance of voters based not on the ratio of electoral votes to population, but on the relative importance of voters in swing states when compared with states that are relatively safe.  While precision in this modeling is more difficult, it is clearly demonstrated by Gelman, Silver and Edlin that there is a significant disparity between the relatively likelihood of an individual’s vote influencing the outcome of an election based on the state in which they live (Gelman et al, 2008).  Gelman et al. assert that, during the 2008 election, votes in New Mexico, New Hampshire, Virginia and Colorado were most likely to have a direct impact on the outcome of the election (Gelman et al, 2008, p. 3).

Statistical analysis of this is interesting, but the relative importance of swing states has implications beyond the electoral process.  Perhaps the most worrying flaw in the Electoral College system is not its tendency to value votes in swing states more highly than those in other states, but the practical policy implications of this.  In 2001, President George W. Bush introduced a steel tariff that was a directly related to the swinging nature of steel-producing states West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania (Klein, 2008; Magnusson, 2002). Zack Pelta-Heller contends that the assistance provided to Florida after four hurricanes in 2004, when contrasted to that provided in New Orleans the following year, can be directly attributed to Florida’s comparative electoral important (Pelta-Hellar, 2007).  The structure of the Electoral College system affects not only how presidents are elected, but also how they govern.