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Editorial: America Needs To Take Notice Of Nebraska's Electoral System

This story was written by , Daily Nebraskan

Nebraska's gone purple, and the second congressional district is to thank.

For the first time since 1964, Nebraska split its electoral votes, infusing some blue on the traditionally red political state map: Four went to John McCain and one to Barack Obama.

The news came in early Saturday morning - days after the election ended - much to the anxious chagrin of many citizens throughout the state and the Daily Nebraskan Editorial Board.

This election, for months touted as history in the making and more recently touted as, well, history made, now holds even larger historical meaning for our state.

As the Omaha World-Herald reported Saturday, "Nebraska is the first state in the modern era to have a split electoral decision." And in the world of politics, this means game on.

For a state as historically die-hard Republican as Nebraska, to split a vote, giving even one to a Democratic candidate, opens doors to conversations and debates about the validity of the popular winner-take-all electoral system and to how political campaigns are organized.

By splitting the vote, Nebraska brings national attention to the electoral system in this country.

Does the winner-take-all system, used in every state except for Nebraska and Maine, encompass divided voters' opinions? Does it matter? In Nebraska, it does. And it should everywhere.

The second district, primarily made up of Omaha, proved that its voters' opinions differ from the rest of Nebraska's. At least 1,260 of them do - the number of votes Obama won by.

By utilizing a split-vote system, Nebraska makes voices heard on both sides of the political spectrum on a national level. This system allows for greater representation of voices and political ideologies; citizens in western Nebraska have different concerns than those living in a more metropolitan area such as Omaha. Our electoral votes show that.

For the last eight months, Obama was criticized for allocating resources to areas such as Omaha that have long voted for Republicans. By risking resources and time, however, Obama paved the way for future, similar campaigns intended to make voters feel that no matter what state they live in - red or blue - their vote counts.

A new nation-wide split voting system would encourage higher voter turnout by giving attention to differing views in states that always "go" red or blue. Split-vote systems would force elections to be more about people and less about party-lines and state colors. Split-vote systems demand individual voice, thought and action - instead of focusing on groupthink and group efforts.

A split-vote system in Nebraska guaranteed that the voice of every second district voter was heard. Nebraska made history this election: As a state, we demanded representation for our differing opinions. We hope the rest of the nation follows suit.

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