What You Should Know About the Electoral College

What You Should Know About the Electoral College

The term “Electoral College” will dominate headlines on Election Day TODAY, but what does it really mean?

As Americans get ready to cast their ballots today, they should learn how the Electoral College was founded, how it works and what happens if Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump become deadlocked at 269 electoral votes apiece.

Delegates at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 were divided on how to pick the nation’s president. While some pushed for the popular vote to determine the commander-in-chief, others were in favor of Congress picking the president and some believed state legislatures should decide. Instead, a compromise was reached where regular citizens would have a say, but the final decision would be made by electors.

The process for picking a president is outlined in the 12th Amendment, which was ratified in 1804, the same year the Electoral College system debuted.

What You Should Know About the Electoral College

Did you know that at least 4 times out of 56 times (which equates to 7%) that the Electoral Votes named our President. The last time was in 2000. The Electoral College Distorts the Campaign. Did you know that there are three states: California, Texas, and New York that don't get campaign visits, only TV ads. This is crazy, these states make up 25 % of the nation's population. If that doesn't tell you something about the electoral college, nothing will.

The rules if there is a tie at 269 electoral votes each are bizarre to say the least.

The Electoral College system further distorts the presidential campaign by causing the candidates to grant extra weight to the parochial needs of the swing states. If you have to carry Florida to win, it elevates the already ever-present need candidates feel to pander to elderly voters, Cuban-Americans, orange-growers and any other group that can deliver a bloc of Floridians. The same thing with Iowa and ethanol subsidies and other agriculture-friendly policies, except even more so because Iowa is not only a swing state over recent cycles but has become since 1976 the key first state in the presidential nominating process. . (But that last bit about the nominating process, of course, is not rooted in the Constitution.)

The Electoral College system further distorts the one-person, one-vote principle of democracy because electoral votes are not distributed according to population. Every state gets one electoral vote for each member of its delegation to the House of Representatives (this by itself would be a rough measure of its population) and each state also gets two “bonus” electors representing its two senators.

What You Should Know About the Electoral College

In case of a tie, or if no candidate receives a majority of all electoral votes cast for president, the choice of president is thrown in the House of Representatives but the election is conducted on a one-state one-vote basis. (Yes, Wyoming – population 563,000 in the 2010 census -- would have equal say in the selection of the president with California – 37 million.) And to win, a candidate must receive the support of an absolute majority of states.

But states that have an even number of House members may deadlock. (Minnesota, with its current delegation of four Democrats and four Republicans, would be a good candidate for this fate.) A deadlocked state cannot vote at all for a presidential candidate. But, to produce a winner, one candidate would still have to win 26 states, even though several states would presumably be deadlocked.

If no presidential candidate can get to 26, there is no constitutional mechanism for producing a winner. The vice president (whose selection in this scenario would be thrown into the Senate) could serve indefinitely as acting president. This has never happened, although it has come close. If we wait long enough, it will happen someday. Will today be that day??


What You Should Know About the Electoral College
Add Opinion
6Girl Opinion
8Guy Opinion

Most Helpful Girl

  • Cccgala
    That is not absolute freedom at all since geographical divisions and representatives somewhat have a say in determining your head of government and not solely based on the number of ballots casted for each delegate. Is this due to the United States being a federation or not?

    Regarding Iowa, do you happen to refer to the Iowa caucus?

    I haven't seen this thing happen in my country at all and we elect our leaders solely based on the ballots casted by the registered voters; this is why cheating is looked down upon here and vote buying is a bad trend in the country. This is also why I find this process ridiculous (complicated as well).
    Is this still revelant?
    • YourNextEX

      The caucus is used for primaries, not the general election. It's not in use anymore.

      Delegates are proportional to the population of each state. California is the most populous state, so it had the most delegates (55). Whichever candidate gets the most votes in CA gets to select the delegates, virtually ensuring they get all 55 of the electoral votes in CA. When the electoral college votes, it's really a formality. Everyone votes for the candidate that won their state.

Most Helpful Guy

  • Anonymous
    The EC is total bullshit... no matter who most Americans vote for the final decision isn't made by us... wow what a democracy😑
    Like 7 People
    Is this still revelant?
    • neoagent1

      It is a completely outdated concept. We have the technology where we can get everyone's vote via the internet in many locations in each state. The popular vote should be all that matters now. Agree with you totally

    • I couldn't agree more.

    • @neoagent1 Me too!!! Some people don't really understand the EC, but it is a totally out of date, useless process..."We the People"

Scroll Down to Read Other Opinions

What Girls & Guys Said

  • Saoirse_Nua
    Very educational take - I will always remember the 2000 election when Al Gore won popular vote but lost the election
    Like 6 People
  • front2back
    I really despise the EC. It's obsolete and time to get rid of it.
    Like 3 People
  • sjoes006
    As we've all known since it making but especially since 1999. It has to go, it will never go and we won't be free until it does.

    My state is so gerrymandered that three congressmen share my zip code and argued over which ones district I actually fell into. If I move less than two miles in either direction it's another district and that District is over 150 miles long.
  • vishna
    Popular vote should really be called people's vote. One voice, one vote, one tally. :/
    Like 1 Person
  • RedThread
    Nah we just had Clinton winning the popular election and Trump winning the electoral college. Kind of like how the people only voted for Bush once.
    Like 1 Person
  • Kuraj
    Aaah the good old days of Bush getting elected... despite losing the popular vote.
    "Democracy" for the win!
    Like 1 Person
    • jacquesvol


      Let's bring our democracy to countries who haven't yet our democracy.

      There's a special budget and organism for it: the NED
      The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Each year, NED makes more than 1,000 grants to support the projects of non-governmental groups abroad who are working for democratic goals in more than 90 countries.

      Private but paid with tax dollars, of course. A Reagan idea (i)

    • jacquesvol

      And of course, the US Army stands ready to bring our democracy worldwide


    • YourNextEX

      @jacquesvol If it's private, it's not paid for by tax-payer dollars, right?

    • Show All
  • capturemyheartnow
    i am sure there will not be any tie. Let the better man/women win.
    Like 2 People
  • EmoKate97
    People are flipping out over a 0.2 lead.

    0.2 lol

  • BrileyCat
    How ironic... Republicans have been wanting to abolish the EC,
    claiming it favors Democrats.
    In 2012 Donald Trump denounced the electoral college as being
    a disaster for democracy and rigged
    Who would have thought, due to the Founding Fathers devising the EC,
    on January 2017 Donald Trump will be giving the State of the Union Address?

    Read This: Its not long - It clarifies the thinking of the Founding Fathers.
    factcheck. org / 2008 /02 / the-reason-for-the-electoral-college /

  • jacquesvol
    I guess the electors themselves are elected?
    Do they only work once every 4 yrs?
    • YourNextEX

      The electors are selected by the parties, virtually ensuring they vote for the candidate they are supposed to.

    • jacquesvol

      @YourNextEX Selected, not elected?

      Friends chose friends...

    • YourNextEX

      Right. So the 55 delegates from CA will be selected by Democrats/Clinton because she won that state. They are their "friends." On January 20th, they will go to DC and vote for Hillary Clinton. Michigan will get 16 delegates. Since Trump won that state, he/Republicans will select them. They will go to D. C. and vote for Trump.

  • Adigelunar
    good one
  • Anonymous
    What do I know about the elector college? I know that it was evidently included as a means of a cheater mechanism or a backdoor if you will to install trojan horse candidates.
    Like 1 Person