Posts Tagged ‘Voter education’

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Electoral College, huh?

November 1, 2008

These days all the media pundits have been speculating over the Electoral College while the polls are based on the popular vote. Several readers requested that this blog provide an article explaining the Electoral College as they expressed some bewilderment over this topic.

WHAT IS THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE?

The Electoral College is a body of electors who formally select the President and Vice President of the United States, on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December of a presidential election year. This body consists of 538 popularly elected representatives; this number reflects the number in our Congress (both the House of Representatives and the Senate) plus three from the District of Columbia. Therefore, in order to win the presidency, a candidate will need to win 270 electoral votes (one more than the exact half).

HOW DOES THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE WORK?

The electors are decided upon on Election Day, the day of the nationwide popular vote. When a candidate carries a state, he/she wins electors from that state. The number of electors in each state is based on congressional districts; i.e., the state of California consists of 53 congressional districts and 2 senate seats; therefore California carries 55 electors. All the states except for two are winner-take-all states; the two exceptions are Maine and Nebraska where a candidate collects electors based on the districts he/she wins on Election Day. These electors themselves cannot hold office in the United States Congress.

Several weeks later, these electors meet at their respective state capitals to cast their votes.

WHY THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE?

To many people, the Electoral College does not make sense and needs to be abolished. In the beginning of our nation’s history, the Electoral College made sense and was considered an innovative tool of the American brand of democracy. The Electoral College was established by our Founding Fathers when they wrote up the United States Constitution. At the Constitution Convention in 1787, the smaller states such as Delaware and Rhode Island sought to protect their states’ power without being overpowered by larger states such as Virginia and New York due to differences in population numbers. Also these states did not want the Congress to have extra power by picking a president and vice-president without any popular vote, so this power was switched to the citizenry.

At that time, some politicians believed a purely popular election was too reckless, while others objected to giving Congress the power to select the president. The compromise was to set up an Electoral College system that allowed voters to vote for electors, who would then cast their votes for candidates. The Founding Fathers believed the Electoral college itself reflected very much the U.S. Constitution itself which was based on a compromise between population-based and state-based governances.

This is how we ended up with the Electoral College. Yes, our presidential elections are really based on a two-vote process – the popular vote and the Electoral College.

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Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors