Count Votes Equally

Even if states could deny citizens the right to vote for President, directly or indirectly, when they grant that right, they may not abridge it for anyone.

a.    Many actions of states or federal government cannot be conditioned on race, color, gender. Examples include Social Security, access to the polls, use of public property for assembly, and the right to travel. Among these rights is the right to vote – if a state allows citizens to vote, it has to give all such citizens an equal right to exercise that vote and cannot abridge it for some.

b.    The majority opinion of Bush v Gore stands for the proposition that if a state is going to recount it must recount all votes -- with equal attention, so that every vote truly matters equally. The premise of the case must be that every vote has equal weight to all others in a state.

c.     But a state abridges the right to vote when it denies a citizen the right to have his/her vote counted with equal weight relative to the citizens of other states. A state wrongly gives unequal weight to its citizens’ votes in at least the following ways:

-- If it does not allocate any electors to the voters who do not compose a plurality of the votes. By doing that, a state denies that minority the ability to have their preferences reflected in the voting in the Electoral College – where the decision is made. By contrast a state could not devise Congressional districts so as to preclude a sizeable minority from electing anyone to Congress. Similarly, it cannot underweight the votes of a minority by denying any ability to choose an elector.

-- if it can enter into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which gives every vote in the country equal weight, but declines to do so.

-- if it can unilaterally pledge its electors to the winner of the national popular vote, thereby giving all its voters equal weight with all other voters in the nation.

Whether a court would recognize these assertions as reasons to invalidate a state law for choosing electors by the winner-take-all method I do not know. This blog attempts to describe right as opposed to wrong, letting others determine if there is a remedy in law or equity.

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