Although aliens cannot legally vote, their numbers in each state are counted – according to the Constitution – towards determining the number of electoral votes each state can cast. Thus states with a large number of aliens, even though they are ineligible to vote, get additional electoral vote.
On the other hand, other states with smaller numbers of resident aliens get fewer electoral votes than they would if electoral votes were allocated on the basis of the number of residents legally eligible to vote.
Based on the latest polling data, Obama will receive three more electoral votes than he would be entitled to if voting power were allocated based upon eligible voters, and Romney will receive three fewer votes. Thus, in a close race, the votes of residents ineligible to vote – of which 45% are estimated to be illegal – could provide the difference to put him over the top.
Put another way, non-citizens, although ineligible to vote, sway as many electoral votes as many states, including Alaska, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.
More specifically, according the recent calculations, its large alien population earned California five more electoral votes than it would have if only eligible voters were used to allocate voting power. Texas received two additional votes, whereas Florida, New York and Washington each got an additional one.
On the other hand, the following states each have one fewer electoral vote than what some might argue they should have: Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.
Since the popular vote in most of the states in question can be predicted with near certainty, it appears that the net result of this allocation based upon residents rather than eligible voters will be to favor Obama by three electoral votes.
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
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