There’s a popular claim that’s used to encourage people to get off their rump and vote. That claim is that every vote counts.
When it comes to elections, that saying rings true in nearly every race, from McMinnville Mayor to U.S. Senator. It’s true if we’re voting for members of the Warren County Commission and it’s true if we’re voting for Tennessee House of Representatives.
However, there’s one election where the saying every vote counts is pure folly. That’s the race for U.S. President. Because of the needlessly complex Electoral College system we have for determining our president, every vote does not count.
This may be a spoiler alert, but Donald Trump is going to coast to an easy win in Tennessee on Election Day. That means all 11 of this state's Electoral College votes will go to Mr. Trump. All the thousands and thousands of people who vote for Joe Biden will get zero Electoral College votes, meaning their vote accounts for nothing.
I’ve heard claims that states should alter the Electoral College system to award votes in a manner proportionate to the popular vote, instead of all or nothing. This would make for a more fair system, the argument goes.
I say instead of trying to implement a system to better mimic the popular vote, here’s a tremendous idea. Let’s just go by the popular vote. Problem solved.
By now we all know Donald Trump didn’t win the popular vote four years ago. He didn’t even come close, losing to Hillary Clinton by 2.7 million votes. That’s a pretty staggering number, 2.7 million.
I haven’t heard a single projection from any political analyst, not even Trump’s pals at Fox News, who are forecasting Trump to win the popular vote this year. In fact, he’s expected to lose the popular vote by much more than in 2016.
So let’s imagine a scenario where Trump loses the popular vote by 4 million votes. It’s completely possible. Yet he could still win the presidency because, for some reason, we conduct our elections for president contrary to common sense.
Imagine in our current race for McMinnville Mayor if one of the three candidates wins by 500 votes. That’s a very large number in small-town politics, probably equivalent to about 4 million votes on the national scale.
But instead of awarding the McMinnville Mayor’s Office to the candidate who won by 500, we rely on some hair-brained system that gives the job to the guy who lost. There would be outcry and the system would be changed because it’s not fair or appropriate.
Or imagine this. What if Donald Trump were to win the popular vote by 4 million votes but lose the election because of some Electoral College foolishness. We'd never stop hearing about the rigged election and the results would probably be overturned by a conservative court.
Every vote counts? That’s a laugher. We have 2.7 million examples of that not happening in 2016.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.