It’s instantly recognizable as a map of the United States, but each state is resized to show how much representation in the U.S. Senate the average resident gets. The average Wyomingite gets 66 times as much representation as the average Californian, so Wyoming appears 66 times bigger. States whose residents receive less Senatorial representation than the average American are colored green, with the rest colored red.
Two things are instantly apparent from the map. First, voters in large states get an extremely raw deal: California and Texas are barely specks, while Delaware looms so large it can barely fit next to its neighboring states. Second, voters in 33 states enjoy over-representation under the current system, and probably aren’t going to give it up without a fight.
“We fully support Californians having full voting rights within America,” said Tim Vollmer, Chief Strategist of the CFC. “However that would require the 30% of Americans currently over-represented in the Senate to give up that special privilege, in favor of the basic democratic principle of one person, one vote.”
Worth a thousand words
This disparity is mentioned in the preamble of the initiative filed in May of 2017, which calls for California to negotiate greater autonomy from the U.S., possibly up the point of full independence: “Californians are woefully underrepresented in the U.S. Senate. Though we comprise nearly one-eighth of the United States' population, we receive only one-fiftieth of the seats, that is, one-sixth the representation of the average American.“
“In the end, there’s a limit what you can convey in writing.” said Dave Marin, Director of Research and Policy for the California Freedom Coalition. “For all the statesmanlike words in the initiative, the right picture is worth a thousand of them.”
As for the argument that the Senate is necessary because it keeps larger states from running America, be careful what you wish for. “When voters in small states say they don’t think Californians or Texans should have the same say in the federal government as everyone else, that’s a lot like saying you don’t really want us in your country,” said Shankar Singam, CFC’s Vice President. “Who knows about Texas, but California, at least, would do fine as an independent country. Let’s have a serious discussion about that.”
This infographic is the first release in the CFC Education Fund’s “Taxation without Representation” project, which aims to educate Californians about just how badly their voting rights are silenced by the American system of government, how much their federal tax dollars subsidize other states, and how the two are related.
The infographic and the underlying map are Creative-Commons licensed, allowing anyone to publish or re-mix it as they see fit (please credit us as “California Freedom Coalition CC-BY-4.0”), and are available at https://calfreeco.org/senate. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with requests for supporting data or other questions.
About The California Freedom Coalition: The CFC is a not for profit, non-partisan organization that was formed to educate and advocate for the voting rights of California. We are a grassroots organization dedicated to ensuring that California and its nearly 40 million citizens and residents have a truly proportionate voice and vote in electing a national government that reflects their values, intentions and expectations. Please visit our website at calfreeco.org.