By Annie O’Dea
Yes, kind of. Here’s why:
Because the electoral college ultimately determines the results of an election, a lot of people believe that the popular vote (regular citizen vote) does nothing. Each state has a different number of electors (made up of Senators and Representatives) that make up the electoral college; states with a bigger population have more electors. But, there is a rule called “winner take all” where the candidate who wins a state’s popular vote also wins all the state’s electoral votes. This is true for all but two states (Maine and Nebraska). So, your vote matters in determining who your state’s votes go to.
The reason that many people think their vote doesn’t matter is because the candidate who wins the national popular vote doesn’t always win the election. This happened in the 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and many people were frustrated by it. Clinton received almost 2.9 million more votes than Trump, but they were received in a few states with larger populations, like California. Trump won in more states, granted they had smaller populations, and in the end, he received more electoral votes.
The members of Senate and the House of Representatives are elected from the popular vote. In theory, this would mean that electoral votes correlate with popular votes, because the electors would vote for the candidate they want to vote for, but that is not usually the case. The argument pertaining to the winner takes all rule is that it doesn’t evenly represent citizens of the state’s votes. Regardless of how small or how large of a majority the popular vote is won by, all the electoral votes only go to one candidate. Many say that to be representative, the electoral votes should have the same ratio as the popular vote in each state.
In conclusion, your vote matters, just not always in the same way you think it does.