Voting is flawed but still important

Published 12:01am Sunday, November 4, 2012

Your high school American civics teacher lied to you.

We were all pretty young and gullible back then, so you shouldn’t feel bad. We all took the patriotic Kool-aid.

Sometime in that class — if not before — you learned a simple set of clichés involving the American political system.

See if any of these phrases sound familiar:

“One man; one vote.”

“Every vote is precious.”

“Every vote counts.”

In a very real way, none of that is true, at least not when presidential choices are on the ballot.

Yes, yes, I know.

Each man does, in fact, get one vote — at least one legal vote.

The 15th amendment allowed that man to be of any race or color, correcting a long-standing wrong in the country. The 19th amendment put a “wo” on front of the “man,” giving the right to vote to all men and women.

So for the most part, most Americans do have one vote, but what about the “every vote is precious” line?

In our most patriotic of moments, the process of voting can stir deep American emotions. Our chests can puff with pride.

But the harsh realities of modern, calculated political campaigning tactics can quickly deflate that puffed-up chest.

Somehow the billions of dollars spent to woo a few undecided voters in a handful of so-called swing states seem to cheapen the process a bit.

The implication is clear — particularly to those of us living in non-swing states. Our votes don’t matter much, and they’re certainly not all that precious.

They’re taken for granted by candidates.

But “every vote counts,” right?

Sort of.

It’s true that every vote is counted, but does every vote really count the same?

Logic tells you that every vote weighs equally into the total votes cast to decide the race. But in presidential politics, that’s not exactly correct.

The pesky little thing called the Electoral College enters the picture. The system was created as sort of a buffer to prevent the highly populated areas from having too much power and letting the masses elect a kook.

Once your vote is cast, a strange thing happens.

Despite the button you pushed, you did not, in fact, vote for a candidate. Instead you voted for a state elector.

The number of electors relates to the number of seats in Congress a state possesses.

With 538 electors — 435 members of the House, 100 in the Senate and three for the District of Columbia — presidents simply need a majority to win.

That’s 270 to be exact.

The chase for those electors is what leads candidates to virtually ignore states they either feel they have no chance of winning or a slim chance of losing.

It’s the same thing that leads to hundreds of millions of dollars spent on campaigning in the few key states.

To further complicate matters, all states except two have a “winner take all” approach to electors. So if a candidate wins the majority of a state, that candidate hauls in all the electors, even if the race was close.

So it’s quite possible that the candidate who wins the most number of popular votes won’t win the election. That just seems wrong doesn’t it?

But it’s happened four times in our nation’s history, most recently in 2000.

Despite all the little fibs you may have been told years ago, the truth is that voting is important. As flawed as our system may be, it’s still the law and the best system we have. Remind yourself of that this Tuesday.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or

  • Anonymous

    Those aren’t flaws, those are features.

  • Anonymous

    You really don’t have a right to complain UNLESS you go out and vote. SO GO OUT AND VOTE!

  • Bob Buie Sr

    Tuesday is a defining point in our history. We are at a tipping
    point in our history as a “free” society where the “American Dream” is
    experiencing the destruction of our capitalist system of government.

    The reckless spending that has and is continuing
    to being done is, by design, to bankrupt our nation which, if
    accomplished, will be replaced by a nightmare of “big
    government takeover that will control everything that we have or
    ever will have, as a free society.” The massive debt that has
    already been accumulated is such that it will take a miracle to
    overcome even if we are successful in electing a new leader and take
    the necessary steps to reverse where we are at this moment in
    history. Don’t give up your right to control your own destiny or the
    destiny of your country——the greatest nation on earth.

    If you do not know or understand what it is like to live in a Socialist
    or Communist country, you should spend the next two days in
    researching the real facts. If you haven’t seen the movie OBAMA :
    2016, go to a local store today, purchase it for $12 bucks and watch
    it before Tuesday.

    Friends and family, this is not something that is “gonna’ happen down
    the road” …this is something that is “going to happen with the swish of
    a speeding bullet”.

    Don’t let anyone tell you that your one vote doesn’t count.
    Don’t leave it for someone else to do. Don’t ever risk the thought
    of saying that “I wish I had done my duty”. This is a
    defining moment for you ………do your duty and save our
    Capitalist Republic. America may not be a perfect country or a
    perfect system but it beats the hell out of the alternatives. It’s

    Bob Buie Sr

  • Mister Rational

    Be afraid…very afraid. The sky is falling!!! Every, I repeat EVERY, credible news source has denounced this film as propaganda. It just isn’t true. Kind of like Mein Kampf. Goebbels got it right when he explained that if you tell the big lie loudly and often enough, people will believe it. Ask John Kerry. If one chooses to vote for safety at the expense of truth, then expect a repeat of 2004. Regardless of who wins this election, this great nation will still be a Capitalist Republic. If anyone somehow believes we are choosing between Capitalism and Socialism or Communism, they’re either ignorant or stupid. If anyone chooses to place blame for our current economic stuation, look to the Republicans. No solutions, no plans, only obstruction. Two unnecessary wars and tax cuts so we’ll be paying for them long after all of us are gone. Trickle down policies never have and never will work. The Republican solution to unemployment? Stonewall the jobs bills. Yeah, we have choice to make; we can go back to the policies that got here, or we can move forward with policies that are getting us out this Republican caused mess.

  • Anonymous

    your just a republican yelling your opinion……quiet down…
    stay calm and vote tomorrow….lets get on down the road.

  • Anonymous


  • Bob Buie Sr


    Your misinformed rantngs do not match up well with your name. You need “real” change! Get with Deuce and see if the two of you can help each other….maybe just with spelling and philosophy, perhaps more ince you seem to be cut from the sme mould. You are correct that I am a Republican. That seems to be something that the “leadership” of Natchez and Adams County is missing. In fact, missing throughout the city. Do you think that could be a problem?

    About being ignorant and stupid, I guess that would be the judgement of the readers. I respect opinions, generally. Apparently you, a “puesdo” intellectual, speak for a large marjority of Natchezians. I respect that, too. Again, I say that “opinions, yours in this case, are like belly buttons, everybody has one”. I just happen not to respect yours, especially the name calling. Do you not realize that this exposes you to questionable credibility in your comments?

    By the way, I do agree with your first sentence, though fragmented.
    Bob Buie Sr

  • Bob Buie Sr

    Duece, ever heard the words “intellectually naked”? Look it up!

  • Bob Buie Sr


    I presume you mean “kicking the can on down the road”? It doesn’t work, my friend. I am for opening a can of new workable ideas.
    Romney-Ryan will get this economy booming again and you should think seriously about that before you pull that lever tomorrow!
    It’s your life too!
    I cannot be calm. As “Mister” said above, I am afraid, very afraid. My life, my family and friends lives and my country are at serious risk and I do not trust it’s fate in your hands or people of your mindset.
    Bob Buie Sr

  • Anonymous

    It’s been put at risk due to partisan politics. Both parties are “kicking the can down the road” on a number of important issues. Until our elected officials can learn to be statesmen instead of acting like children towing their party line we’re all screwed. I have doubts anything will change no matter who’s elected until those in Washington can learn to work together for the nations good.

  • Bob Buie Sr

    I agree with your thoughts relative to our congressional delegations. However, that is my whole point. It is obvious that the current president cannot move them off dead center(their fat asses) and that the only hope is thati we must give another president a chance to try. At least, he does have a record of being able to do so along with a record of other accomplishments. It darn sure can’t get any worse.
    Bob Buie Sr

  • Anonymous

    There is nothing misinformed about my comments. Using a factually innaccurate piece of propaganda to rationalize your perspective is either stupid or ignorant of the facts. If you somehow, think that Romney offers ANYTHING new, you’re either stupid or ignorant of the facts. He has pandered to every element of his constituency, changing his positions more often than his magic underwear. There’s a reason that he won’t carry Massachusetts or Michigan, the two states that know him best. They know he is simply a re-hash of failed Republican policies that drove our great nation into a ditch. This is not a choice between Capitalism or Communism. This is a choice between policies that favor the middle class or policies that favor the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. This is a choice between a man who knows what it’s like to struggle financially, like most of us, and a man who believes corporations are people. This is a choice between a man whose family worked to be part of the middle class, and a man who has hidden offshore bank accounts to avoid paying his fair share, and has never struggled for anything. This is a choice between the future, Obama, and the past, Romney. If you choose the past, expect the same failed results. I choose the future.