Which states have the most say in elections? It depends on how you count.


Alina Snopkowski, Editor

With the talk about Washington, D.C. possibly becoming its own state, conversations have arisen about D.C., which traditionally votes strongly Democratic, gaining its own senators and representatives. “Taxation without representation” (or, in some cases, “end taxation without representation”) is the slogan on D.C. license plates, and a reason often given for why D.C. should have representatives in Congress. But with a population greater than only Vermont and Wyoming, D.C.’s representation in congress, which would almost certainly mean two more Democratic senators and an additional Democratic representative, means many Republicans are opposed to the plan.

Writer’s note: There would still be 435 representatives, but D.C. would get one, which means another state would lose one of theirs. To be honest, I’m not sure how they calculate that, and it’s not really the point of this article, so I’m not going to go into it here.

But how valid are these claims, anyway? And are there states that are better off than D.C. in terms of how many votes they get compared to the size of their population? I was curious.

So, using the 2019 state population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau (the most recent numbers available) and some Excel tables, I determined which states get the most “bang for their buck,” so to speak, in terms of how much of their population is represented by a single representative in the House of Representatives and electoral vote in presidential elections. Here’s what I found.

How many people are represented by one electoral vote?

Image by Alina Snopkowski, created with mapchart.net

Here, I divided the state’s total population by the number of electoral votes that state (and D.C.) gets. I used the total population, not the voting-age or voting-eligible population. Oftentimes the claim arises that the electoral college favors the states with smaller populations and gives them more than their ‘fair share’ of electoral votes, which appears to be pretty true — large states such as California and Texas have over 700,000 people to each electoral vote, while Wyoming has less than 200,000 — but, as shown in the map above, some states are certainly ‘better off’ under this system than others.

Which states are above and below average for representation per electoral vote?

Image by Alina Snopkowski, created with mapchart.net

By dividing the country’s total population by 538, the total number of electoral votes, I got the average amount of people that one electoral vote would represent if these votes were allocated based on that system (if you’re curious, it comes out to about 610,000 people per electoral vote). The above map shows which states are currently above and below that average.

In 2020, which party got more votes than they ‘should have?’

Image by Alina Snopkowski, created with mapchart.net

Here’s where it gets interesting. To find the numbers for this map, I divided the state’s total population by the average-per-vote number I found earlier (the ~610,000). By subtracting the state’s actual number of allocated electoral votes from that new number, I was able to see how many votes each state would get if they were divided up this way. Using this system, each state would get at least one vote (we’d have to round up just a little bit for Wyoming, since the state’s population is less than 610,000), and some would get many more — Texas and California would both gain ten votes, bringing their totals from 38 to 48 and 55 to 65, respectively.

The above map compares the current system for dividing electoral votes with the division system I used and breaks down which states, by party, received more or fewer electoral votes in the real 2020 election than they would have using the other system. For example, in the current system of allocating electoral votes, Pennsylvania gets 20. If these votes were divided up using the ~610,000 number, Pennsylvania would have roughly 21 electoral votes — a difference of one that, in 2020, would have gone to the Democrats. In Delaware the situation is opposite — the state currently has three electoral votes, but with the other calculations it would get two, which means the Democrats in 2020 got an ‘extra’ vote there.

When all these ‘extra’ and ‘missing’ votes are tallied up, states that voted Republican in 2020 had about 21 ‘extra’ votes and about 19 ‘missing’ ones. For states that voted Democrat in 2020, they were ‘missing’ about 20 and had about 18 ‘extra.’

Note about Nebraska and Maine: These states split their electoral votes instead of having a winner-take-all system, and I wasn’t sure how to deal with that. Nebraska’s votes were 4 republican and 1 democrat and Maine’s were 3 Democrat and 1 Republican, and each state has one ‘extra’ vote, so I just factored Nebraska into the Republican count and Maine into the Democrat one).

How many people are represented by each state’s representatives in the House?

Image by Alina Snopkowski, created with mapchart.net

Last but not least, let’s go back to D.C. I did the math on this one in the same way as the first electoral college map: total population divided by number of representatives in the House. I found this one a little bit perplexing — Delaware and Montana are at the bottom of the list with the most people ‘sharing’ a representative, and, while Wyoming is, not surprisingly, again in the category with the fewest people to one representative, West Virginia, which also had a fairly low number of people to one electoral vote, but not that low, is also included at a similar level as Wyoming in this map. The state with the fewest people to each representative is actually Rhode Island, with about 530,000 people sharing a representative. Montana, at the opposite end, has a whopping 1,068,778 people for their sole representative.

Where does D.C. fall into all of this? If D.C. got one representative, the district’s population of about 706,000 would all be represented by that single person — putting it in twelfth place overall when states are ranked by the fewest-to-highest number of people accounted for by their representatives.

So, what’s the point of all of this information? Really, I just like math and maps and was curious about how the states compare to each other. I’m not a political scientist and I’m not suggesting we change the current electoral college allocation system to the one I used for my calculations, but I do think it’s interesting to think about.

Writer’s note: If you’re interested in any of my numbers and whatnot, email me and I’ll send you the Excel spreadsheet.

The election we often forget


James LeVan, Staff

Header image: nyclu.org

We are only four months into 2021 and a brand-new president, and already there are discussions about the 2022 midterms and if the Republicans can take the House and the Democrats can build on their majority in the Senate. You would think after a turbulent election beginning with a confusing Iowa caucus and ended with an attack on the Capitol that everyone would be fed up with elections and politics. However, with the senate divided fifty-fifty, a slew of bills being proposed in state legislatures designed to complicate the voting process (that is the nicest way I can put it) and states beginning to redraw their congressional districts, the stakes have never been higher for both parties. While 2022 is certainly going to be an important election year, and one that absolutely no one should ignore, there is another election about to occur in six months — local municipal elections across the country.

Local elections occur between the presidential election and the midterm and consist of offices that don’t hold the same national notoriety as president or congressman, but are more instrumental to our daily lives — elections for people such as school board members, district attorneys, sheriffs and local township council members. These are the office holders who can actually help you or really hurt you and your community if you choose to ignore them. The wrong people on your school board can result in your local school being underfunded, or worse, closed down. The right district attorney can determine if actual criminal justice reform happens. Likewise, these offices can be the starting ground for future politicians who seek higher office. President Joe Biden may be more well known as a senator from Delaware and Barack Obama’s vice president, but he started his political career in running for New Castle County Council in Delaware back in 1970. Today’s local sheriff may become your state’s next senator, so you want to make sure that person is good for the position.

I take great pride in the fact that the first election I ever got involved in was the local 2017 election for the school board in my area. A friend of mine, Adam, was running for school board and I told him I wanted to help in some way. Adam and I knew each other from back when I was working at a comic shop and the two of us remained friends after I left. Like me, he felt off about Trump’s election and even though I was a Republican at the time and he was a Democrat, I told him I wanted to support his campaign. I helped hand out campaign literature at the polling place. While my role was small, it felt good to be involved in the political process and make a difference by helping a friend win an election. It gave me a sense of control and being a part of something that really can’t be felt with national elections. Local elections are smaller, more intimate and if you are a history or political science major, it’s a great way to learn about local government from the ground up.

So when you go home this summer, please look up local elections in your community. Research your township’s Republican and Democratic (depending on your personal leanings) parties, offer your time to being a part of a campaign, or go to a couple of committee meetings. Government is not some alien far off institution, it’s local people trying to solve the issues of their communities — and you never know, it could lead to the beginning of your own personal future in public office.

Why stop at statehood for D.C.? All U.S. states to become their own countries


Alina Snopkowski, Professional Political Analyst

“So, what do you all think about this D.C. situation?” When Virginia Governor Ralph Northam posed the question at the weekly U.S. governors group Zoom meeting on Monday, March 29, he was just trying to spark some conversation so National Governors Association Chair and Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo wouldn’t put them into breakout rooms.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan shared his opinion right away. “Some people are saying Maryland might just absorb D.C., but, frankly, we don’t really want them.”

“Honestly, I wouldn’t mind,” Daniel McKee, governor of Rhode Island, said, “then Rhode Island wouldn’t be the smallest state.”

“D.C. as a state,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott scoffed, “that’s ridiculous. They just want to have their own senators. If they become a state, Texas will just leave and become its own country. Don’t mess with Texas.”

Silence fell over the zoom call as the governors pondered Abbott’s comments. Although they would only admit it later, many senators had considered proposing such a thing, but Abbott’s words made them realize that someone else had a similar idea.

After that instrumental Zoom meeting, the governors moved quickly and contacted their state governments. By Wednesday, March 31, all state governments had drafted some sort of proposal to officially become their own countries. Every state will vote on these proposals within the next two weeks, and it is expected that all will pass with overwhelming margins. Every state has something to gain from becoming its own country, and every governor has held a press conference in the past few days explaining why their state — soon to be country — will be in a better position in the future.

“We used to be our own country,” Vermont Governor Phil Scott explained, “we can go back to the good old days when we didn’t have to answer to the U.S. government.”

“When we become our own country,” Delaware Governor John Carney said, “Delaware will continue its proud tradition of having no sales taxes. We also have a great tourism sector with the Delaware Beaches, and we will now be able to generate extra revenue for the country by charging visitors from other countries special prices to visit these areas.”

“We’ll finally be moving the capital from Harrisburg to Philadelphia,” Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf said, “most people think the capital is Philadelphia anyway, and it has a cooler nickname — ‘the City of Brotherly Love’ — Harrisburg’s nickname is literally just ‘Pennsylvania’s Capital City,’ which it won’t be for long.”

“I think one of the most important symbols of a country is its flag,” Maryland’s Hogan explained, “and Maryland has the best state flag in the country, currently, so as our own country we’d have the best flag in the world.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Current governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf is excited to change the future country’s capital to Philadelphia.

There will be 50 new countries in the world after the U.S. splits apart, although not all the states will retain their current borders. Washington D.C. will become its own country, while the states of South and North Dakota will merge into one entity simply called “New Dakota” in a bid to increase the future country’s population to at least a million people. The border between Wisconsin and Michigan would be redrawn so the upper peninsula would belong to Wisconsin.

In regards to the proposed change in borders, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer remarked, “This plan makes perfect sense. Only 3% of Michigan’s population lives up there, so it’s not like we’re losing much. We also wouldn’t have to pay to maintain the Mackinac Bridge, and we can funnel that money into Detroit tourism instead. It’s a win-win.”

However, there are, of course, some expected problems when changing these states into countries.

“We have a slight issue because there’s already a country called Georgia,” Georgia (the state) Governor Brian Kemp said, “I didn’t know about it until last week, actually, when one of my staffers brought it to my attention. I think it’s in Asia or something. So we’d have to change our name. Or we could sue them for rights to the name. I think we have a pretty good shot at winning that.” In a similar vein, governor of New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham remarked that “with New Mexico in the process of becoming its own country, we have already begun a conversation with President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador in regards to the name situation. We might be changing our name to North Mexico, and they would be South Mexico.”

These new countries will still be strongly connected. All former U.S. states intend to belong to a newly proposed union called the Union of Former American States (UFAS), not to be confused with the UFAS that is the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, which will no longer exist because the U.S. federal government will not exist. UFAS would help put regulations in place for trade, travel and work between the new countries.

With the recent news that President Biden is rolling aimlessly through the White House in a wheelchair, babbling incoherently, this move to separate the states could not come at a better time. Taking control of the U.S. away from Biden is both a necessary move and one that, given his current state, the president will likely not be able to oppose (or even notice).

Janet Yellen Confirmed as Next United States Treasury Secretary


Elizabeth McLaughlin, Staff

The Washington Post

Janet Yellen, pictured above, was recently confirmed by the Senate in a bipartisan, 84-15 vote, making her the 78th Secretary of the US Treasury and first woman to hold the position.

She got her undergraduate degree in Economics from Brown University and then a PhD in the same field from Yale. From there, she taught economics as a professor at Harvard. After that, she researched international monetary policy as an economist with the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. She taught at London School of Economics and University of California, Berkeley. She was confirmed unanimously by the Senate to chair the Council of Economic Advisers under Bill Clinton. Then, she became the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, as well as a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee. From there, she graduated to the vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and eventually the chair of the Federal Reserve — the first female to hold that position. As if that weren’t enough, she became a distinguished fellow in residence at the Brookings Institution. She holds nine honorary degrees ranging from a doctorate in science to a doctorate in philosophy. Her name is Janet Yellen, and her most recent accomplishment to be added to an already long list is being confirmed as the newest secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury.

Janet Yellen is the first female treasury secretary and the first person ever to lead the three most powerful economic bodies in the United States government: the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers. She was confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 25 in a bipartisan vote of  84-15. In her role as Fed chair, Yellen was well-liked by both Democrats and Republicans. Her ability to appeal to both sides of the aisle will likely bode well for the Biden administration, which begins amidst unprecedented partisan tension.

Yellen is a Keynesian economist and considered by many to be a dove, which is another way of saying she is generally more concerned with unemployment than with inflation. She received criticism for keeping interest rates too low for too long in her capacity as chair of the Federal Reserve. Some of her opponents admit that she can act more as a hawk by hiking interest rates if necessary.

As Yellen steps into her role as treasury secretary, she inherits a hefty to-do list: propose and pass another fiscal stimulus bill, advise President Biden on carbon tax policy, maintain the dollar as the world’s international reserve currency, provide insight on long-term economic recovery post-Covid-19…the list goes on. Some of these issues may appear more immediately pressing than others — Americans have been waiting months for much-needed and adequate stimulus. Regardless, Yellen will play a key role in bolstering a floundering economy.

On Jan. 20, Yellen appeared before the United States Senate Committee on Finance to persuade lawmakers to pass President Biden’s $1.9-trillion Covid-19 relief plan. The plan includes increasing the minimum wage and expanding family and medical leave — two policies that do not have strong Republican support. Yellen believes that “we have a long way to go before our economy recovers,” so Congress must “act big” to support millions of struggling American families.

Another item on Yellen’s agenda is climate action. For years, Yellen has opined that climate change poses a risk to global financial stability indicating that she will “act big” on climate action in her role as treasury secretary. Her support for a carbon tax goes all the way back to her time as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton. In addition, she co-founded a nonpartisan, international think tank called the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), which advocates for a carbon tax of around $40 a ton and increases 5 percent each year. In turn, this tax would filter back into American pockets in order to offset the costs of increased energy prices. Moreover, the CLC advocates for penalties on carbon-intensive products in the form of border-adjustable taxes on imports. The plan has drawn some criticism from progressive climate activists and groups and, perhaps deservingly so; ExxonMobil and Shell were quick to sign on as “founding corporate members” of the plan. Beyond that, Yellen plans on pushing for emissions reductions. She does not believe that a carbon tax alone is enough to address climate change and ensure global financial stability. In her capacity as treasury secretary, Yellen could establish a national green bank to encourage investment in sustainable infrastructure. She could also pressure international financial institutions to divest from fossil fuels.

Yellen’s bipartisan confirmation by the Senate represents a marked shift in the political and economic cultures we have grown accustomed to for the past four years. An exceptionally qualified expert with a robust resume has been appointed to a cabinet-level position with support from both parties. Her appointment is uncontroversial, expected, and comforting; three adjectives we could all use a little more of these days. The only thing lengthier than her impressive curriculum vitae? Her to-do list.