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Brookhaven-Based 270 to Win Predicts the Election

270 to Win has been mapping out presidential elections since 2004 and has a contest for people to guess how the map will look this November.

With the 2012 presidential election fast approaching, a Brookhaven resident's website aims to foster more interest in the workings of democracy--while offering some big prizes, too.

Brookhaven's Allan Keiter started 270 to Win in August of 2004.

"I got the idea after what happened in 2000 with the Bush-Gore thing," he said. "Not many people were familiar with the whole Electoral College concept before then and I figured we're probably in for another close race in 2004. I didn't see anything close to what I'd envisioned on the web, so basically I hired some programmers and created [270 to Win]."

270 is the number of Electoral College votes needed for a presidential candidate to win the race.

Though the site drew interest in its early years, it really started to blossom during the 2008 election with more widespread high-speed internet availability and a huge amount of interest in the process.

"We had a touchscreen version of it at a museum in Chicago, it got mentioned on 'The Daily Show' a couple of days before the election and it got pretty popular," Keiter said. "This year we're seeing some of the same levels of popularity."

A new feature on 270 to Win allows users to share the hypothetical electoral maps they create across social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. There is also a 270 to Win app for the iPad.

Keiter is holding an America's Electoral Map contest where people try to predict, as accurately as possible, how the electoral map will look in November.

"It's an effort to use the wisdom of the crowd to forecast the election. Whether we get it right or wrong, who knows, we'll see in November," he said.

According to Keiter, many users will leave some states undecided or build their maps around what they personally hope will happen. The contest, though, requires people to predict all 50 states and Keiter hopes that will make users think about the bigger picture.

There is a total of $2,000 in prizes available. $500 in Amazon gift cards will go to the first person to put in a perfect score, plus three separate prize periods as well. People who submit maps in August have a greater chance to win because they've submitted earlier, although people submitting in September and October will all have at least one chance to win another of the $500 gift cards. One entry per day is allowed.

270 to Win offers many ways to begin crafting an electoral map, whether by starting with a blank slate, polling results or 2008's results. Clicking on a state to assign its electoral votes for President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney also brings up statistics about how the state in question voted in the last 10 elections. The site includes a blog, links to poll results, political news, a quiz about the Electoral College and more.

The America's Electoral Map contest is open until the end of October.

toto August 17, 2012 at 08:20 PM
The presidential election system could change. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country. The bill changes the way electoral votes are awarded by states in the Electoral College, instead of the current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all system (not mentioned in the Constitution, but since enacted by states). Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in the country would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC wins the presidency. The bill uses the power given to each state in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have been by state legislative action. The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect. NationalPopularVote
don Gabacho August 17, 2012 at 08:33 PM
This almost looks like making a lottery out of the election. What will they think of next?
Ben Podgor August 28, 2012 at 10:02 PM
The constitution was written with intent to give small states protection that the larger populated states would not overpower the small states. They can pass all the legislatures that would gain by it, but will never succeed in the states that would lose power. Ben Podgor
Ben Podgor August 28, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Toto: Every section of the country has different concerns. Some, like Detroit want to protect the auto industryl. The farmers want to get a fair share for their products. When the constitution was written, it was realized that the more populated states would control, so that certain industries or services would suffer. The intent is to give protection againt overpowerment. Ben Podgor

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