I've been sitting on this post, incomplete for two years. Sitting at home sick today, I'm just going to post it. I'm no political scientist, but I've been very frustrated around the conversation (and stupid comments) I hear about the Electoral College.
"Los Angeles and New York shouldn't decide the election."
If you're saying this, what you're really saying is "I don't believe every American should be entitled to an equal vote." Usually, this is said by people who hold unpopular views. That is, if everyone got an equal vote, their political party wouldn't retain power. (These people seem to confuse geography with population and like to show those red/blue maps when they really should show purple maps or show maps to inflate/shrink states by population.)
"My vote doesn't count because no matter how I vote, my state will vote x so why bother?"
I used this excuse in the past to vote third party, believing I was sending a message. I don't think that message got through to anyone and here we are stuck with the same two frustrating parties, pushed further and further to the edges by modern politics. Also, if you look at a major state like California, 61% votes for Clinton and 32% voted for Trump and all 55 votes went to Clinton. In Texas, Trump got 52% and Clinton 43% and all 38 votes went to Trump. That's an opportunity to discourage a lot of people from voting and it can also discourage candidates from voting for a state they already assume they've won/lost.
Let's look at the power of the Electoral College. Not only does it turn a state into a collective making each voice feel less important, but it's also quite uneven.
I've been frustrated with the charts I could find on the Electoral College, so I ended up making my own (below). Basically, I wanted to look at the value of a vote and show unequal things are.
Let's say that we got rid of the Electoral College but everyone kept their relative power. We'd give eligible voters in Florida one ticket each. But we'd give eligible voters in Wyoming 3.59 tickets each.
Does that seem right? Should people in Wyoming have such an outsized impact on how we vote? The answer might depend on whether or not Wyoming votes the way you want them to, but that's pretty selfish and doesn't feel very American.
Politicians that had to campaign for each and every vote might also exhibit a more moderate stance that respects each American and works to improve the situation for all Americans.