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Does Every Vote Count? By Semira Arora

Photo courtesy of Associated Press

The 15th amendment prohibits the federal government and each state from denying a citizen the right to vote based on a citizen's race, color, or previous condition of servitude. So yes, every single vote does count. But does every vote matter equally? While the current american voting system claims to weigh each vote equally, it never has, and with the evolution of America it has been rendered even further ineffective.

Not only do some of the state voter ID laws restrict minorities from voting, they also prevent the mobile home population from voting.

The current voting system needs improvement. Although the Electoral College may have been more convenient in the past, it now needs a lot of refinement. First of all, when the Electoral College was formed, it favored the Southern states compared to other states in America. At the time, there were many slaves in the South, and so there was a very large population. Additionally, the three-fifths compromise (in which every five slaves would be treated as three people for the purpose of census-taking) further rooted the Electoral College in a biased and racist system. As stated by Business Insider, with the elections of 2020, the topic of systemic racism in the current voting method has resurfaced. After the Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, states have been granted greater power to enact new laws that have made it harder for many to cast a ballot. This includes restricting early voting, reducing numbers of polling places, and enacting restrictions like voter ID laws that can have an impact on racial and ethnic minorities. Early voting impacts seniors and ultimately discourages them to stand in long lines on election day. By reducing the amount of polling places, poor and disabled voters are prevented from casting their vote. Not only do some of the state voter ID laws restrict minorities from voting, they also prevent the mobile home population from voting.

Photo courtesy of fairvote.org

Additionally, according to Vox and FairVote, the electoral system is based on a winner-take-all basis rather than a fair representation voting system in which the percentage of votes for a certain candidate translates to the percentage of electoral votes they receive. Some smaller states get disproportionate electoral votes compared to the larger states. For instance, if a candidate wins Texas (30 million people), Florida (21 million people), and New York (20 million people), they would get 96 electoral votes from a total population of 70 million. In comparison, if a candidate won these eight states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and West Virginia, they would get 31 electoral votes from a total population of 10 million. On a balanced representational basis, if a population of 70 million voters received 96 electoral seats, a population of 10 million voters would receive around 13 electoral seats. As mentioned previously, under the current system, they get 31.

All in all, the current electoral system is too open to being manipulated with state subject laws, and doesn’t accurately or fairly represent the popular vote. Ultimately, the electoral college needs reform before it can truly reflect the spirit of the 15th amendment.