Voices & Choices

Counting the Chips in Nevada

Counting the Chips in Nevada
The Nevada caucus is over and Hillary Clinton is the winner, but why did Barack Obama come away with more delegates to the national convention? The New York Times' Zeleny and Steinhauer write:

Mrs. Clinton scored a clear victory measured in the number of people attending the caucuses on her behalf. But Mr. Obama's campaign was successful by another measure: in the allocation of delegates to the national nominating convention, a result of a complex formula that gave more weight to votes in some parts of the state.

The Nevada Democrats give additional weight to candidates that win rural areas, which is why that even though more Nevadans caucused for Hillary, she only gets 12 delegates to Obama's 13. Some argue that if the party did not allocate delegates in this way candidates would ignore rural voters and their issues. But the broader question is this: why should someone's vote in rural Nevada count more than someone who works on the Las Vegas strip?

Last week, I posted a video where President Clinton argued it wasn't fair that someone's vote counts "five-times as much" as someone else's vote. I couldn't agree more--each person's vote should be counted equally, without regard to where that person lives or where they choose to caucus. The Nevada caucus process has the same fundamental problem as the Electoral College--the popular vote winner is not guaranteed to actually "win" the election.

As the parties (hopefully) move toward improving the primary process for 2012, they should consider allocating delegates in a way more consistent with the democratic principle of one-person-one-vote.

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