Electoral college reform (fifty states with equal population)
Neil Freeman, 2012
format and dimensions vary
The electoral college is a time-honored, logical system for picking the chief executive of the United States. However, the American body politic has also grown accustomed to paying close attention to the popular vote. This is only rarely a problem, since the electoral college and the popular vote have only disagreed three times in 200 years. However, it's obvious that reforms are needed.
The fundamental problem of the electoral college is that the states of the United States are too disparate in size and influence. The largest state is 66 times as populous as the smallest and has 18 times as many electoral votes. This increases the chance for Electoral College results that don't match the popular vote. To remedy this issue, the Electoral Reform Map redivides the fifty United States into 50 states of equal population. The 2010 Census records a population of 308,745,538 for the United States, which this map divides into 50 states, each with a population of about 6,175,000.1
A poster version of the map is for sale. The poster has much more detail than the map here, including hundreds of smaller cities, an inset for the New York area and better elevation shading. The poster is 22″ x 28″ (56 x 71 cm).
The poster is $35 and ships first class to your door, safely packed in a sturdy tube.
Consult the shop for more about shipping.
Advantages of this proposal
- Preserves the historic structure and function of the Electoral College.
- Ends the over-representation of small states and under-representation of large states in presidential voting and in the US Senate by eliminating small and large states.
- Political boundaries more closely follow economic patterns, since many states are more centered on one or two metro areas.
- Ends varying representation in the House. Currently, the population of House districts ranges from 528,000 to 924,000. After this reform, every House seat would represent districts of the same size. (Since the current size of the House isn't divisible by 50, the numbers of seats should be increased to 450 or 500.)
- States could be redistricted after each census - just like House seats are distributed now.
- Some county names are duplicated in new states.
- Some local governments would experience a shift in state laws and procedures.
The map began with an algorithm that grouped counties based on proximity, urban area, and commuting patterns. The algorithm was seeded with the fifty largest cities. After that, manual changes took into account compact shapes, equal populations, metro areas divided by state lines, and drainage basins. In certain areas, divisions are based on census tract lines.
The District of Columbia is included into the state of Washington, with the Mall, major monuments and Federal buildings set off as the seat of the federal government.
The capitals of the states are existing states capitals where possible, otherwise large or central cities have been chosen. The suggested names of the new states are taken mainly from geographical features:
- mountain ranges or peaks, or caves – Adirondack, Allegheny, Blue Ridge, Chinati, Mammoth, Mesabi, Ozark, Pocono, Rainier, Shasta, Shenandoah and Shiprock
- rivers – Atchafalaya, Menominee, Maumee, Nodaway, Sangamon, Scioto, Susquehanna, Trinity and Willimantic
- historical or ecological regions – Big Thicket, Firelands and Tidewater
- bays, capes, lakes and aquifers – Casco, Tampa Bay, Canaveral, Mendocino, Ogallala, Salt Lake and Throgs Neck
- songs – Gary, Muskogee and Temecula
- cities – Atlanta, Chicago, Columbia, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington
- plants – Tule and Yerba Buena
- people – King and Orange
The words used for names for the name are drawn from many languages, including many American Indian languages. While some etymologies are unclear, the root languages for the state names include Abenaki (Casco), Algonquian (Nodaway, Pocono, Willimantic), Apache (Chinati), Calusa (Tampa), Choctaw (Atchafalaya), English, French (Detroit, Ozark, Rainier), Greek (Philadelphia), Iroquoian (Shenandoah), Lakota (Ogallala), Latin (Columbia), Luiseño (Temecula), Mayaimi (Miami), Mamaceqtaw (Menominee), Miami-Illinois (Chicago), Mohawk (Adirondack), Muscogee (Muskogee), Nahuatl (Tule), Odawa (Maumee), Ojibwe (Mesabi), Potawatomi (Sangamon), Susquehannock (Susquehanna) and Wyandot (Scioto).
Keep in mind that this is an art project, not a serious proposal, so take it easy with the emails about the sacred soil of Texas. That said, if you have any questions, drop me a line.
Earlier versions of this map appeared in postcard form in The Future Dictionary of America and Greetings from the Ocean's Sweaty Face.