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Opinion column: Why voting matters here

Modified: Wednesday, Sep 26th, 2012

As much attention is being paid on the presidential election, only swing states matter to decide whether President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins in November.

And that is because of the Electoral College which consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the president. With only three electoral votes for its numbers of members in Congress, Wyoming is an afterthought for both the Obama and Romney campaigns.

Each candidate knows Wyoming always votes Republican on the national stage, so why expend any energy and money in the Cowboy State. And the payoff is only three electoral votes anyway, if the state was up for grabs.

Election Day has become a science for campaign strategists to map out a scenario to get the 270 electoral votes to win the White House. The popular vote doesn’t matter.

Four presidents took office without winning the popular vote. In other words, they did not receive a plurality in terms of the popular vote. They were elected, instead, by the Electoral College or in the case of John Quincy Adams by the House of Representatives after a tie in the electoral votes. They were:

Adams who lost by 44,804 votes to Andrew Jackson in 1824.

Rutherford B. Hayes who lost by 264,292 votes to Samuel J. Tilden in 1876.

Benjamin Harrison who lost by 95,713 votes to Grover Cleveland in 1888.

George W. Bush who lost by 543,816 votes to Al Gore in the 2000 election.

This might happen again. Obama could lose four swing states he won four years ago – Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida – and still end up crossing the magic 270 threshold.

But no sitting president has ever won re-election while losing the popular vote. In terms of historic election firsts, it’s not exactly first-black-president material, but it would be fun for political nerds.

It’s more difficult slicing up the Electoral College map in such a way to find Romney winning if he doesn’t win the popular vote.

So both camps are concentrating on a handful of battleground states – namely Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa and Nevada – to hit the combination that means Electoral College victory.

Yet the absence of presidential intrigue should not keep Goshen County voters from casting ballots.

Of most interest are the 17 candidates vying for five seats on the nine-member nonpartisan Goshen County School Board. There’s no shortage of hot-button issues. Think school attendance, school curriculum, drug policy and school choice high among them.

Trustees Rob Branham, Clark House and Linda Johnson are running for re-election.

They are joined by 14 newcomers. These candidates are Ward Anderson, Michelle Baker, Christa Bartel and Chris Gaspers. Matthew Gordon, Dean Harshberger, Cory Horejs, Matt Jolovich and William McAnelly. Katherine Patrick, Valerie Peterson, Tim Toedter, Donna White and Gretchen Wollert.

Equally important are the six people seeking four seats on the Eastern Wyoming College Board of Trustees. Incumbents Lowell Kautz, Julie Kilty and Mike Varney are joined on the ballot by Judi Fogle, Gary Olson and Scott Prusia.

Four nonpartisan candidates are also running for two seats on the Torrington City Council. Incumbents Randy Adams and Rick Vonburg are on the ballot as are Bill Law and Norman Vogel.

These are three compelling reasons why all our votes deserve to be counted on Election Day. So let the swing states make the choice between Barack and Mitt, while we choose who sits on our local boards.

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