By: John Stracco
Americans will make one of the most important decisions with regards to the future of the country, the Presidential election. Under our democratic values, we believe that our system of government accounts for each individual to be able to vote equally; however is it possible that your vote doesn’t matter?
Since the ratification of the Constitution, the United States has used a system called the electoral college, where state electors carry out voter preference for their respective state. This system has come under fire quite recently, most notably in the 2000 and 2016 Presidential elections. Current President, Donald Trump, was able to win the election, but not the popular vote which called into question if the electoral college really works.
Under the system, electors carry out the desire of the popular vote in each state, so if a majority of New Jersey voters were to choose Joe Biden, New Jersey's 14 electoral votes would go to Joe Biden. The same would work on the other side where if a majority of voters in Texas chose Donald Trump, he would receive all 35 electoral votes from the state. Most states' populations swing to one side; for example: New Jersey, New York, or California nearly 99% expected to vote for the Democrat, while states like Kansas, Wyoming, and Alabama expected to vote for Republican.
There are a small number of states called swing states, which consist of roughly an equal amount of voters and can swing to one party or another, depending on the election and which candidate they believe will do a better job leading the country. Unfortunately only eight states really do have a say, and the direction they swing will decide the election. They include Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Georgia. This is the main reason why these states are campaigned in the most, candidates making almost weekly visits to them.
For us voters in New Jersey, will we be able to say that a Presidential candidate paid serious attention to the state and its outcome? Voters in states that are traditionally one sided often feel ignored, almost like the two party system failed them. This is especially true if you are a red voter in a blue state or vice versa.
For example, Republican voters in New Jersey may as well throw their vote down the metaphorical drain. We all know that Joe Biden will carry the 14 electoral votes from the state and bearing those circumstances, the President doesn’t stand a chance in the Garden State.
This could also play into the greater picture of the dilemma behind third party candidates. In a state like New Jersey, where the winner can be decided as soon as the polls close, voters may be more encouraged to use their vote on a candidate they actually believe in who may not necessarily be a Republican or Democrat. However, in a state like Pennsylvania that was decided by thousands of votes in 2016, voters do not have the same luxury. The Keystone State could very well hold the state of the country in its hand. In Pennsylvania every vote counts, and many consider a vote for a third party candidate to be a waste.
So how does America find its way out of this entwined political dilemma? Well, many argue that the abolition of the electoral college would suffice, but some states are taking a different approach. Maine will conduct its election via rank choice voting this year with the hope that it will encourage voters to choose candidates who represent their values instead of a party. But will it work? The very foundation of our democracy will lay within the results of this groundbreaking election.