Every election year the Electoral College is put under a microscope as many believe the system is not a solid form of selecting the next President of the United States and that it does not reflect the popular vote.
There may be a solution – The Electoral College Reform Map, an art project by Neil Freeman, 31.
“The map is an art project all on its own! It came about because I was curious about how population was distributed across the country, and wanted to rethink the electoral college, which is in deep need of rethinking (or abandonment),” Freeman said in an e-mail.
The Chicago native who now lives in Brooklyn said the project is still a work in progress and has consisted of part-time work of the course of several months. The project originally started after the 2000 election, when sensible proposals for Electoral College reform failed to get traction Freeman said. He originally did a version of the map in 2004, but updated it in 2012 with the 2010 Census population data.
“The U.S. election system misses the higher calling of fairness. It's not just the electoral map, but the Senate, and the election to the House by district. In terms of geographic size, Indian country combined would be a large state. In terms of population, we need far more representation at the federal, state and county level, to reach any sort of level of parity. The Cherokee Nation has more citizens then Wyoming and the Navajo Nation is not that far behind. Yet Wyoming has two U.S. Senators and a member of the House. (Cherokee has a member of the House, but not one who ran on Cherokee issues the way someone would in Wyoming.) And in the House, as long as we elect by district, there is no chance that the 5.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives would win the 18 seats that would be equal to a district with 272,000 people (as is now the case in Congress), even at Navajo where the reservation has a population larger than that figure (divided by three states),” said Mark Trahant, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe writer, speaker and Twitter poet.
Freeman recognizes the reasoning of the Electoral College but states on the site, “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.”
Freeman describes the advantages to the new map as preserving the Electoral College structure; an end to over representation and under-representation; political boundaries would represent economic patterns; and would end varying representation in the House. Another interesting point that he points out is states could be redistricted after each census.
Freeman’s site draws attention to what he says is the fundamental problem of the Electoral College – “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.” That variation leads to Electoral College results that don’t match the popular vote. With his map, Freeman re-divides the 50 states, into a new 50 states of equal population where each state has a population of 6,175,000.
Looking at Freeman’s map, many will notice terms that are familiar like that of Menominee, Muskogee and Ogallala. When asked if he was aware that they were American Indian tribes Freeman said, “I was aware that they were American Indian words when I started. I generally tried to avoid using the names of tribes simply because they were the names of tribes, and instead look for names that were also associated with important geographic features. Some of the names also have personal connotations. My grandfather grew up in a town called Menomonee Falls, and although I took the spelling from the river, I was thinking of him when I chose that name.”
Freeman continues to tweak the map and recently added a section giving the source languages for each state name.