The Electoral College and Popular Vote

EDIT: Whoops. Forgot to proofread my work and left in the notes to myself to add the links to support my words.

rxl2yIt seems like the proctologist business is booming because there seems to be a lot of butts that are hurt over the recent United States 2016 Presidential Election. Namely, over its results. The God-Emperor Donald J. Trump, the madman himself, has won the presidential election. That’s right, despite almost every news station, newspaper, news website, celebrities, hell, despite what several popular YouTubers said about Trump being ‘deplorable’, he won. I guess it just goes to show that attempting to no-platform ideas you disagree with doesn’t work forever.

So being the tolerant leftists that they are they stood down and accepted… oh wait. They didn’t. Which is fairly odd because Clinton herself said that Trump was undermining democracy by saying he wouldn’t accept the outcome if he lost. She said this on national television during the third (and I believe the second) presidential debate. Now those of you that watch the full clip will know that Clinton called Trump out on it because he’s a Presidential candidate, but if we are to believe the idea of citizen representatives we have to extend it to all citizens of the United States. So these (presumably) Clinton supporters (or at least a large chunk of them are) are protesting, undermining democracy in the same way their candidate said that which they hate was undermining democracy! Irony and hypocrisy make such a delicious combo. So now they’re protesting, blocking streets, beating up 74-year old men, and damaging property. Now the point of this post isn’t to point out the hypocrisy in people or even the left, I’d be here all day. However, I believe there is something of value to come out of these… protests.

There’s a kink in this victory, the Honorable President-Elect Donald J. Trump may have won the electoral college votes (barring any shenanigans in December), but he LOST the popular vote by about half a million votes (illegal immigrant vote came out this time). So now we run into the fifth case of the person that won the popular vote losing the electoral college vote (again, assuming no elector shenanigans). We’ve had this happen five times in the history of our United States. George Washington was our first president in 1789 and Donald Trump will be our president in 2017. 2017-1789 = 228. But we only have an election every 4 years, so 228/4 = 57. So we’ve had 5 out of 57 elections or 8.7% of elections in which the president did not become the president with the popular vote.

So where are we at today? Well, those same leftists I mentioned earlier are proposing that Clinton should be the president despite losing the Electoral College system vote because she won the popular vote. I cannot agree to this and I’ll tell you why. It’s a simple matter of cities holding the most power.

First, CGP Grey (fantastic YouTuber, highly recommend just watching a playlist of his content) argues against the Electoral College because of a mathematical quirk. In this, he counters the ‘Presidential candidates will only visit densely populated states in a popular vote system’ argument with the swing state condition that we’re in right now. I don’t like his argument here. Right now and for the past several elections, candidates have focused on the swing states. While true, the argue is entirely based on the situation now. That situation can change, and his argument only holds while those swing states remain those swing states. Theoretically any state can become a swing state and I would not be surprised if with some population distribution we could make ALL of them swing states. So I don’t like the ‘swing states exist and presidents ignore all other states’ argument.

Second, CGP Grey (same video above) lists the more pressing problem with Electoral College in that 75% of the country can vote against a candidate and that candidate can still win. This would be a problem if we Americans lived in a true democracy, but we don’t. I think the question here is whether or not we want to accept such a possibility if it were to occur. Is it really fair that 25% of people in the country can decide who leads our nation for the next four years?

Third, CGP Grey has made (another?) follow-up video in which he addresses the concerns that I might have with the Electoral College – trust. Do we really trust the electors to vote as the states requested? It’s illegal in some states to not do so, but are the consequences of not doing so steep enough? The answers to these questions are up to you but I do believe they’re worth talking about.

Now onto my contribution. The reason I brought this up is because all of a sudden people care whether or not the United States President is selected democratically by popular vote or continues to be selected by the Electoral College. More specifically, I wanted to take a look at this:

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So this is a list of the most highly populated areas in the United States. The implication being that such a small area of the United States would have great power over the United States. Should the president be elected solely by people that live in what looks like an impossibly tiny faction of the United States? I disagreed, but I wanted to see how far this rabbit hole goes so I went digging.

First, I found the average number of electoral votes per state. We have 538 electoral votes, 50 states and 1 Washington D.C. That’s an average of over 10 electoral votes per state. A state cannot have a fraction of a vote, so let’s round down to 10 electoral votes per person. If you look at every state worth 10 or more electoral votes, it looks like this:

rxl2y

(Don’t focus too much on them being marked for Trump, it’s for visualization purposes only)

10 is the average number of electoral votes, therefore there should be about 25 states here, right? Half of the states should be above the average, half of the states should be below it. There are 21 states here. That’s not too far off, but it’s still only 80% the number of states that it should be. What’s the problem? As you can see, 42% of states control 70% of the electoral college votes. Is this fair? It might be. Let’s look at this list of cities with the most population in the United States.

Of the 50 cities, only 4 are not listed within the states I’ve marked red on the map above. Which means if, assuming you win the most populous cities in the United States under a popular vote system, you control the presidency. But I wonder, how many cities do you need to control to control the presidency? For the 2016 election, there were 146,311,000 registered voters. You only need 50% + 1 vote to win, so you need 73,155,501 votes to win. So how do the cities stack up? Well, if every person in every one of those 50 cities voted for you, you’d have 50,102,395 votes. You wouldn’t have the presidency outright, but you’d be 67% of the way there. The odds of this happening are probably negligible but visiting these areas can still give you impact on surrounding cities, so hopefully that balances things out. Assuming you won every state that had one of these major cities in them, you’d have an electoral map that looked like this:

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So this is better in that it includes more of the country, but it’s still 29 states (well, 28 states and D.C.). Most of those states would probably be ignored because they had little to no population. I suspect the midwest as a group would probably be mostly ignored under a popular vote system. So there’s no reason for someone in the Dakotas to bother getting excited about any president because they can disregard the Dakotas completely.

I think the main reason people are opposed to the electoral college is because of the influence a republican vote has in California. Why bother voting republican if you’re in California? It’s loaded with democrats and there’s no way you can topple that might. Because you vote for the votes of your state, you may as well not bother getting out of bed that day. But if you’re in a popular vote system, aha! Now your vote matters even if you’re a republican in California. I don’t like this line of logic. Surely if the republicans made themselves distinguishable in California, they might attract more campaign time for those sweet 55 electoral votes. Maybe after a few cycles of this, republicans can make a swing state of California. But you’ll never be heard if you do not vote.

I think the main press for popular vote by the left is because of their base demographic. Democrats are known for their love of social programs. Where are the people that are on these social programs? They’re in the cities! So the left is confident that in a popular vote system that they’ll have more power. Of those 50 cities, how many were in California? 8. There were 8 cities that account for 9,066,724 votes. These 8 cities in California account for over 10% of the votes needed to win the presidency. And they’re all in one small area. The electoral college allows the states with fewer people to be competitive with the larger states… in theory (swing states are still a thing whether we like it or not).

To be clear, I’m not saying that the current system is perfect, but I do believe that it is better than one based on pure popular vote. I’m not suggesting any alternative method. I’m just asking you to reconsider your outrage when it comes to popular vote and the electoral college. That’ll be it from me, thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

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The Electoral College and Popular Vote

Voter ID Laws (Part 2)

Welcome again to Home of the Huntress where we’ve recently been talking about voter ID laws and voter fraud. I’m sorry that this is so late but I haven’t really felt like blogging lately so… yeah.

Let’s now move on to the often quoted counter of DMV availability. The argument is that DMVs are closing left, right, and center. The DMV is only open for very minute periods in the day. The DMV might be too far to travel to by foot (since the people that would go to the DMV for an ID likely do not own a car, nor license). The conspiracy theorists will tell you that the intent is to suppress minority vote by closing DMVs in minority areas. The claim is that minorities are less likely to own cars, so they’re less likely to require driver’s licenses and thus are less likely to have ID if it were required to vote. Even if they could get to the DMV, they’re always working two full-time jobs and can’t take time off to get an ID.

My initial reaction is that half of this argument is garbage. Transport is unfortunate but it’s not really an issue we should make the hurdle that we’re going to focus on. Apparently about 10% of the country doesn’t use the internet. Any millennial will tell you the hassle of applying for a job, as the day of the paper application is dying. However, I don’t see anyone making the argument that people can’t get jobs because they have no access to a computer with internet access. And it’s not like you can just move the DMV closer to people. Ideally, each DMV will serve a proportional number of people. Note that I said proportional, and not equal. If you want a DMVs to serve equal numbers of people, then a DMV in Middle Of Nowhere Iowa has to serve the entire state, while DMVs in NYC have to serve a small collection of city blocks. It’s preposterous. It also has baked in contradictions. Let’s suppose the person is working two full-time jobs. How are they getting to these jobs? I find it unlikely that they’re walking to both jobs. Which means that they’re getting rides from other people or using public transportation. This means that the DMV transport issue stated above is a non-factor. This last part is just a suspicion, but if you have a job, that means you probably have some form of positive ID anyway. Every job that I’ve ever attended has required that I bring two forms of ID (SS card, birth certificate, license, passport, etc.). So you wouldn’t need to go to the DMV to get ID because you already have it.

With my initial reaction out of the way, let’s address things piece by piece. First – poverty. People say that people can’t afford to take time off to go to the DMV to get their ID because they’re working two full-time jobs and can’t take any time off. Well, let’s look at that. Here are poverty statistics by race. Notice anything? There are more white people in poverty than there are black people in poverty. So if you want to say black people are too poor to afford cars or even to afford IDs, you are certainly welcome to do so. However, in saying so, you must also accept that more WHITE PEOPLE are affected in this way. So the poverty argument is unfounded. On top of that, 2.4% of people (same source) working full-time are in poverty. So I find it very difficult to buy the person in poverty ‘working two full-time jobs and can’t take time off to get an ID’.

“Okay, maybe they’re not in poverty… but what about transportation?” Let’s take a look at vehicles per household. It looks like there’s an average of close to two cars per household (1.9). Since you cannot have 0.9 of a car, let’s assume one car per household. What does this mean? It means that the ‘no vehicle’ argument is toast. There are more vehicles per household (on average) than there are drivers per household. Now we have to ask ourselves, “Are these people driving without a license?” I find that highly unlikely. Granted, I don’t doubt that there are households without a vehicle, but if we’re making laws, we should be considering the average household. “BUT WAIT!” I hear you cry. “What about wealthy people with many vehicles?”. I’m just going to just go with wealth by population. In order for the wealthy people to change the statistical mean from <1 to 1.9 they would require an obscene amount of vehicles.

So now we’ve countered the ‘full-time worker in poverty with no vehicle’ argument. Most of the people in poverty are unemployed (predictably). Despite being in poverty, it seems every household on average has at least vehicle. This only leaves the issue of the DMV. Are there enough DMVs for the people? Now, this is really large issue to tackle on the minute scale, so I’m going to tackle this issue based on a few choice cities in the United States. I should probably use many cities to build a stronger case but I’m a full-time teacher and this article is already going to be long enough so I’ll try to keep it short enough to build a case.

First, let’s use 3 of the highest populated cities in the United States.The selected cities are:

  1. New York City, New York
  2. Los Angeles, California
  3. Houston, Texas

And I’ll toss in Detroit, Michigan for its high minority population percentage (81%). Now, based on the hypothesis of DMVs are closing to hit minorities, we should see Detroit’s DMVs per person per square mile (henceforth called the ‘DPV rate’) be drastically lower than those of the other cities.

So, first. New York City has a population of 8.55 million people and an area of 304.8 sq. miles (landmass). How many DMVs does it have? Well, I had a hard time finding an exact number of DMVs in a source, so I’m using a Google search of “DMVs in [X]” and counting the DMVs in the list with ‘Department of Motor Vehicles’ as a “DMV”. For NYC, we see 8 DMVs. Which means it has a DPV rate of 0.00306979 DMVs per million people per square mile. I will not type the units out again.

Next, we look at Los Angeles. It has a population of 4.03 million people and an area of 469 sq. miles. It has… 16 DMVs? Seems unbelievable but I’m using very rudimentary methodology. Crunch the numbers, and it has a DPV rate of  0.00846529.

Houston has a (predicted) population of 2.489 million people and an area of 599.6 sq. miles. It has 8 DMVs, giving it a DPV of 0.00536048.

Last, we hit Detroit. It has a population of 0.677 million people and an area of 138.75 sq. miles. It has 4 DMVs, giving it a DPV rate of 0.0425832.

Sample size is quite small, but we see that Detroit has an immense number of DMVs per person per square mile. I predicted this because city population drops of exponentially after the first few cities which inflates the DPV rate. Give Detroit 10x its population and it stacks up nicely with the rest of the high population cities.

So what do we see at the end of the day? We see that people have vehicles, they’re not in poverty (unless they’re unemployed), and there (may) be a fair number of DMVs per city. The unemployment rate in the United States is around 5-6% in 2016. (around 8 million people). But over 1 in 5 Americans are receiving some form of welfare. Welfare is distributed more to lower income families (that’s the point of welfare) so it’s highly likely that almost all of those on welfare are unemployed. But you cannot collect welfare without an ID! So these people aren’t part of the argument. Houston, LA, and NYC all have comparable DPV rates, so I feel like cities may have comparable DPV rates with populations within their range.

In conclusion, this half of the argument is total bogus. While these cases may exist, the norm is that nearly everyone can and should have an ID. Anyway, regardless of what you come out of this believing, I hope I brought some new information to the table for you. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Voter ID Laws (Part 2)