What is the Electoral College?

What is the Electoral College?

And how is it used in voting for your candidate?

The Electoral College is an essential part of the American voting system, however, it’s function is not very well known.

According to www.huffingtonpost.com, The Electoral College is a body of people representing the states in the United States, who formally cast votes for the election of the president and vice president who will be elected into office.

The amount of electors is determined by adding the number of senators and congressional district representatives. The larger the state’s population means the size of that state’s electoral college is bigger. According to www.archives.gov, In 48 out of the 50 states in the U.S. the rules and traditions are “winner-take-all” the electors will cast their votes in favor if the winning candidate of that state. Meaning the winner will receive all electoral votes in that state.

There are 538 electors representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and for a candidate to win the presidency, they need 270 of those votes. According to www.aljazeera.com, As per the Constitution, an electoral college member can’t be: a Congress member, a high ranking U.S. official in a “trust or profit’ position, or anyone “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S.

According to howstuffworks.com, the Constitution doesn’t have any mention of the qualifications that must be met to become a member of the Electoral College. The State legislatures are the ones who are responsible for the nominations of their electors. That process differs from state to state but is generally determined by:

  • The elector is nominated by their state party committee (for example: to reward years of service to that party).
  • The elector campaigns for the spot  and a decision is voted upon at the state’s party convention.

However, it does say that Electoral College members cannot be any of the following:

  • A member of United States Congress.
  • A high-ranking United States official with a position of “trust or profit” (For example: A Congress member that accepts an appointment to executive office).
  • Someone who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

An example of the power of the electoral college is the 2000 election of Bush over Vice President Al Gore, who received 543,000 more votes than Bush. However, Bush became the winner of the presidency.

Contrary to popular belief, Americans don’t directly vote for their president and vice president. Voters cast their ballots for the candidates they want but then their votes are tallied, and the candidate with the popular vote will then be voted on by the electors of that state.

Many candidates will skip the states that are reliably from the opposite party, except for fundraising purposes. They will instead concentrate on “Swing States”, which are states where party registration numbers are almost even, or where there are a large number of “independent” voters.

While bigger states appear to have more power in the electoral college, smaller states have often been the final push a candidate needed to obtained the presidency. The constitution ensures that smaller voices are equitably represented when it comes to elections.

Each state and the people it contains are heard when it comes to electing the president and the vice president, that will lead the United States for the next four years, so let your voices be heard and vote in every election, because every vote counts.

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    Mackenzie BrattonDec 4, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    I never knew the electoral college was based on the number of senators and congressional district representatives in a state… interesting!