Study says Florida voters have least say in Washington

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Florida ranks dead last in overall voter power in Washington. That’s according to a new study by WalletHub analyzing the size of a state’s population verses its representation in Washington.

With midterm elections upon us, it’s a good time to worry about this little factoid.

The study notes that both Wyoming, the state with the highest overall power of voters, has the same number of U.S. Senators as California, but the states populations are vastly different in size.

As for representation in the Senate, Florida ranks 48th with just a 0.127 ratio of voters to Senators. In presidential elections, Florida ranks 49th based on the ratio of voting-aged population to electors.

The study is meant to be a hardball look at the current method of determining federal representation as well as the longstanding Electoral College method of determining a presidential election. WalletHub asks whether it’s time for a change.

“Brilliant though our Founding Fathers were at framing the Constitution, America in 2014 is far more different than what it was. Some of those key differences, as they relate to our political system, include population sizes and concentrations, voter eligibility, the strength of our union and even the communication tools we have at our disposal,” the study’s introduction reads.

WalletHub conducted the study in order to “point out the growing disparities between voters’ influence across state lines as well as to spark a conversation on whether it’s time to change the current voting system.”

The current system could be described as a large-scale gerrymandering of national politics. The New York Times critiqued the Electoral College in an editorial following the 2012 presidential election.

“If Democrats win a string of elections, it should be because their policies and their candidates appeal to a majority of the country’s voters, not because supporters are clustered in enough states to get to 270 electoral votes.”

The current system was established, in part, as a compromise for slave states. In those days, states in the south often had large populations because of slaves. For the purposes of assigning congressional representation, slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person. This gave southern states more say in presidential elections.

While the Electoral College is used only in presidential elections, it’s based on population. The number of U.S. Representatives is also chosen based on population, but Senate seats remain just two per state. The balance between assigning representation based on population for the U.S. House while only assigning two Senators per state regardless of population is largely considered a way to protect smaller states with low populations.

Florida’s two Senators are Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson. Rubio is a Republican, Nelson a Democrat.

A rule change on how representation is assigned would require a constitutional amendment.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.