World History

Does every vote really count?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. The answer to this question depends on the type of election, where you live and what you consider as counting. So the answer is: yes, but sometimes no. In essence, every vote counts, in that it is added to the record of an election. But if you live in, say, Alabama (a state that consistently and overwhelmingly votes Republican) and you vote straight Democrat in the general election, your vote has little statistical chance of influencing the final outcome.

    Your vote is worth more if you live in one of the swing states, also known as battleground states or purple states -- meaning a state where the vote is invariably close because the state is ideologically closer to 50/50 between Republicans and Democrats. This is where candidates tend to spend more of their time and resources every general election campaign [source: Why Every Vote Counts].

    The nonpartisan League of Women Voters would like to change this. The League has promoted a position since 1970 that would abolish the Electoral College [source: League of Women Voters]. This is the system that more or less negates your general election vote if you're a Democrat living in Alabama; the League favors a national popular vote. The national popular vote would have to rely on quick and accurate recording and reporting of votes, however. And anyone who recalls problems with vote counts in the past few general elections knows that problems occur, even with electronic voting machines.

    About one-fourth of the nation's voters cast their ballots on paperless electronic machines and nearly 70 percent use voter-marked paper ballots [source: Verified Voting Foundation]. In a world where many Americans purchase everything from pizza to cars online with their computers, many states still are struggling with how to verify electronic votes. And in some states, advocates are pushing for e-mail voting for service men and women stationed overseas, although those opposed to the idea say it is still too difficult to verify the votes.

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