The Electoral College: What it is and the history behind it

They are technically voting for 538 electors who, in accordance with the system laid out by the Constitution, meet of their respective states and vote for President and Vice President. These individuals, the electors, comprise the Electoral College, and their votes are then counted by the President of the Senate in a joint session of Congress.
The stain of slavery is on the Electoral College as it is on all US history. The method for apportioning congressmen, which is instantly tied to the variety of electors, relied at the moment on the 3/5 Compromise, whereby every slave in a state counted as fraction of an individual to apportion congressional seats. This gave states in the South with many slaves extra energy regardless of the truth that giant parts of their populations couldn’t vote and weren’t free.

How it works

There’s an elector for each member of the House of Representatives (435) and Senate (100), plus a further three for individuals who stay in the District of Columbia.

Each state will get no less than Three electors. California, the most populous state, has 53 congressmen and two senators, so that they get 55 electoral votes.

Texas, the largest reliably Republican-leaning state, has 36 congressmen and two senators, so that they get 38 electoral votes.

Six states — Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming — are so small, population-wise, that they solely have one congressperson apiece, and the lowest potential three electoral votes. The District of Columbia additionally will get three electoral votes. Voters in Puerto Rico and different non-state territories get no electoral votes, though they’ll participate in presidential primaries.

The states are accountable for choosing their very own electors. And a lot of states don’t require their electors to honor the election outcomes, which has led, sometimes, to the phenomenon generally known as a “faithless elector.”

It takes 270 electoral votes to get a majority of the Electoral College. The whole variety of electors — 538 — can not change until there are extra lawmakers added on Capitol Hill or a constitutional modification. But the variety of electors allotted to every state can change each 10 years, after the constitutionally-mandated Census.

The variety of congressmen is reapportioned — that is the technical time period — in accordance with adjustments in the inhabitants. Some states achieve a House seat or two and others lose some. No state, irrespective of how small, can have zero members of Congress. But this is why there’s been heated political debate over whether the US Census should ask if someone is a citizen. Some worry that asking it might make an correct inhabitants rely harder, or that states with many immigrants might find yourself with fewer lawmakers in elections beginning in 2022, after the 2020 Census is full.
If there is a tie amongst the electors or if no one will get a majority, then the election goes to the House of Representatives. Each state’s delegation of lawmakers will get one vote and they select between the prime three electoral vote-getters. According to the 12th Amendment, if no one will get a majority by a sure deadline, the Vice President turns into President. If there isn’t any majority for the Vice President, the House delegations are excused and solely the senators select the Vice President. The 20th Amendment modified the deadline from March four to January 20.
Most states (aside from Maine and Nebraska, which split some of their electoral votes) give all their electoral votes to the one that wins the standard vote in that state. There are very Democratic components of Texas and very Republican components of California, as an illustration. But until these states transfer to apportion their electoral votes in a different way, it is solely the state standard vote that actually issues.

Who likes this method?

A preferred vote system definitely could be less complicated to grasp.

However, as proponents of the Electoral College level out, in the event you thought that recount in Florida in 2000 was nasty, think about a nationwide recount of greater than 130 million votes. THAT could be messy. And it might occur. Some states have computerized recounts for elections which can be separated by lower than .1% In 2016, with 136 million voters, that may have been a margin of round 136,000 votes. You can think about a recount in the razor-thin election of 1960, which featured a less-than .2% difference in vote totals, however a strong Electoral College victory for John F. Kennedy.
One of the most vital supporters is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has weighed in against the idea of a national popular vote effort on the Senate flooring.

Some defenses of the Electoral College have a racial tinge. Former Maine Gov. Paul LePage mentioned that with out the Electoral College, white individuals may have much less say, which is fairly unhappy contemplating the 3/5 Compromise helped result in the Electoral College in the first place.

“Actually what would happen if they do what they say they’re gonna do is white people will not have anything to say,” LePage said, according to reports. “It’s only going to be the minorities that would elect. It would be California, Texas, Florida. All the small states like Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming, Montana, Rhode Island, you’ll never see a presidential candidate again. You’ll never see anybody at the national stage come to our state,” he mentioned. “We’re gonna be forgotten people. It’s an insane, insane process.”
But 65 % of Americans supported choosing the President by standard vote, in comparison with 32% who most well-liked the Electoral College in a June 2018 PRRI/Atlantic survey. There’s much less assist if the wording contains altering the Constitution. A Pew survey in March of 2018 requested if Americans supported amending the Constitution to pick the President by standard vote and a smaller 55%, nonetheless a preferred majority, endorsed the concept.

However, the Electoral College is written into the Constitution and altering the Constitution is very troublesome. It takes years to perform and requires broad majorities in Congress or state legislatures. States that at present profit from the Electoral College must hand over a few of that energy. The different risk is one thing like the aforementioned settlement by states to honor the nationwide standard vote winner. But you’ll be able to guess if that proposal takes maintain, there might be lawsuits.

That mentioned, the Electoral College has truly modified 3 times, every by constitutional modification. The 12th Amendment, handed after the tie election of 1800 (read about it!) made it in order that electors voted for President and Vice President as an alternative of voting for 2 individuals who may very well be President. The 20th Amendment put a time restrict on the course of. The 23rd Amendment gave electors to the District of Columbia.
And there was a severe transfer many years in the past to abolish the Electoral College altogether. In 1968, a proposal to interchange the Electoral College with a preferred vote system easily passed in the House. It was filibustered in the Senate.

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