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Democratic Equality$
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James Lindley Wilson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691190914

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691190914.001.0001

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Unequal Voting

Unequal Voting

The US Senate and Electoral College

(p.175) Chapter Seven Unequal Voting
Democratic Equality

James Lindley Wilson

Princeton University Press

This chapter assesses how the inequalities in voting power involved in the US Senate and in the Electoral College used to elect the president violate the requirements of political equality. The Senate comprises two senators from each state. States with large populations get the same number of votes in the Senate as do states with small populations. Because the states vary considerably in population, there are large inequalities in how many citizens are represented by a senate delegation. This unequal representation of individuals in the Senate constitutes objectionable political inequality. The Senate is thus unjustifiably undemocratic. This conclusion has implications for the election of the US president, as the Electoral College process for such election tracks what the chapter argues is the malapportionment of the Senate. This inequality, too, is objectionable, and it should be eliminated. The reasons for a more egalitarian election of the president are all the more urgent given that the inequalities in the Senate are much more constitutionally entrenched, and thus likely to remain. The election of the president should mitigate that inequality rather than exaggerate it.

Keywords:   voting power, US Senate, Electoral College, political equality, unequal representation, political inequality, US president, election, egalitarian election

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