US electoral system and democracy


Sir, – Ruadhán Mac Cormaic expresses an understandable frustration regarding how in the US one can win the popular vote and lose a presidential election (“Would Tocqueville recognise US today?”, World View, December 1st).

There really is a logical reason why this system, which at first glance may seem unfair, actually makes sense. Without it the US as we know it would never have formed.

It is important to remember that the federal republic of the US is a union of distinct colonies and territories, now called states. These states over the course of time freely joined the nation. Thirteen joined at the beginning and the rest followed over time. The states were, and still are, of vastly different population sizes.

The representational guarantees they received were a critical condition for them to agree to join the nation. It is very much on purpose, and fair, that Wyoming, with a tiny population has the same number of senators as California, and that every state has a minimum of at least three electoral votes for president.

If this were not the case, only the problems and issues of cities would be tended to by the national government and no presidential candidate would ever bother to stop in a small rural state. They would only campaign in large cities and would be tempted to focus on only urban issues.

Surely people in a small nation like Ireland, which is part of a much larger EU, can understand that small states and the voices and concerns of those outside urban areas must be heard. – Yours, etc,



Co Galway.