American Government and Politics

235 Years since the Electoral College: A Probabilistic Consideration of Voting Power



This paper analyzes the extent to which the electoral college system in United States presidential elections disenfranchises and diminishes the voting power of particular geographic populations. In the study, eligible voting bodies are measured by their ability to impact the outcome of the election. We used Monte Carlo simulations, which generate randomly simulated elections where each state has an equal chance of voting for or against the winning president. We then calculated which states were able to swing the outcome of the vote from winning to losing to find Banzhaf’s power index. To provide a more comprehensive understanding of individuals’ power, the same calculations were performed on various populations. The study found significant disparities in voting power between different states, and between their respective residents. With consideration to the recent electoral inversions, we hope to add to the conversation surrounding the electoral college using new data and analysis.


Thumbnail image of Banzhaf_Power_Index_Manuscript.pdf

Supplementary material

Thumbnail image of Discrete_Banzhaf-main (1).zip
Calculating Banzhaf Index Code
The code used to collect results as presented in working paper.

Supplementary weblinks

Banzhaf Code Github Repository
The Github code repository for those that may wish to play around or expand upon the Banzhaf Index.


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