Written by Ronald Scaglia: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 04 May 2012 00:00
I’m really not into this year’s presidential election. In fact, I haven’t been excited about any presidential election since the first one that I was old enough to vote in – and it’s not because the candidate I voted for that year lost. It’s not because I dislike the candidates. It’s not because I’m unpatriotic, or complacent or non-appreciative of what a privilege it is to vote. My grandfather, a veteran, was always the first person in line when the polls opened on Election Day, and while I don’t get up that early, I have honored his memory by making it to the voting booth on every Election Day since I turned 18 and will continue to do so because it is my right and my duty to do so.
The reason I am so apathetic about presidential elections is because I feel that my vote is insignificant because of where I reside, New York State. County elections are a different story. The last county executive election was decided by a desperately close photo finish. There is currently a 10-9 split in the legislature, with some of the recent elections for the legislature decided by razor-thin margins. It’s possible that in the 2013 elections, one vote for a legislative candidate or, for that matter, even in the county executive election, could decide the balance of power in Nassau County. Okay, that’s probably a bit extreme, but still, if an election hangs in the balance, it’s easy to get pumped up and head for the polls, whichever side of the aisle you belong to.
Yet, there is not the tiniest possibility that my vote in the presidential election– or yours either, my fellow New Yorkers – will have any significance because of the Electoral College. New York is a blue state and it is almost guaranteed to vote Democratic – unless there is a major, and I mean major, political shift in this state. The same holds true in red states such as Texas. It is almost as certain as death and taxes that the Republican candidate will carry that state, rendering the presidential election inconsequential there. Instead, about 10 states – and perhaps even fewer than that will decide who is inaugurated on January 20, 2013.
And that bothers me. Why should voters in Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan control the country? In 2000, fewer than 2,000 Florida voters decided the presidential election. Should 2,000 votes in Florida be more important than 2,000 votes in New York, Massachusetts, or even Wyoming for that matter? The president serves all the people. Federal policies touch us all and thus everyone should have a say in the outcome, not voters in a few states whose votes are most coveted.
Think about it. As one of the last states in the primary schedule, New York has had no impact in choosing each party’s candidate, let alone the outcome. And that is another issue for me. Why do Iowa and New Hampshire get to choose who the front-runners are, a decision that often has a big impact on who the eventual winner is? Candidates who stumble in these states are often finished before New Yorkers have a chance to voice their opinion. Consider this year as an example. Now, be honest. The New York primary was held on April 24. Were you aware of it? Did you know about it? The Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary garnered national headlines, while the New York primary received about as much attention as the grass growing on our lawns. Did Romney even bother to stop here? If he did, I didn’t notice it. He had all but officially secured the nomination so there was little incentive for him to stop by, but a little campaigning would have been nice. Hey, as ridiculous as it is, I would have liked to have even seen one or two campaign commercials. But there was no need for him to spend campaign funds on the primary, and with New York not in play for the general election there was no incentive for him to build up support for November. Switching to the other party, besides fundraising, will Obama extensively campaign here?
Officials in New Hampshire and Iowa are aware of this. Look at how early the Iowa caucuses are held. When other states tried to steal their thunder and schedule elections before these two states, they reacted by moving up their primaries. Christmas lights still decorate many lawns when Iowa caucuses are held and presidential candidates spend much of their summers in Iowa in the year before an election. Would you expect a candidate to be campaigning in New York, when it is Iowa and New Hampshire that hold so much power? Why is it like this? Why can’t there be one national day to nominate each party’s candidate so that the input of voters across the nation matters?
Whomever you support, wouldn’t it be nice if your vote mattered to them? Obama knows he’ll win New York in the general election by a comfortable margin, but if there were a direct national election, in which the winner is determined simply by who garners the most votes across the whole country, I would expect to see him make an appearance at least a couple of times. With the Electoral College, it makes little difference if he gets 55, 60 or 70 percent of the vote. But if it were a direct election, it would make a big difference. And the same goes for Romney. Getting 45 percent of the vote in New York could have a huge impact on the election, as opposed to 40 or 35. But with the Electoral College, it means nothing. So when October rolls around, neither candidate will pay us any attention except to briefly stop by Hofstra for a debate. And think about it, when was the last time you’ve seen a presidential candidate campaigning here?
So, if you’re reading this, residents of Virginia, New Hampshire, and Nevada, be sure to take the election seriously, for it is you who will choose the winner of the presidential election. And to everyone else, could we at least consider a change so our voice matters? In that way, every vote would count. What a concept.