Hey, first years!
We have been seeing a lot of confusion surrounding the latest election, more specifically the Electoral College. How does it work? What is the process?
The Electoral College is “made up 538 electors who cast votes to decide the President and Vice-President of the United States.” Here’s how it works. Citizens cast their vote and the Electoral College votes with the majority in 48 states.
In Nebraska and Maine, electoral votes are assigned by proportional representation. The winner of that state is given the votes of the two Senators, then the remaining electoral votes are given congressional district by congressional district. This means that both candidates could receive electoral votes from Nebraska and Maine, rather than the winner-take-all system in the other 48 states.
Now, what most people are probably thinking is how are the electors selected? This process varies from state to state. Sometimes there’s a vote by the party’s central committee. However, “electors are usually state-elected officials, party leaders, or people with a strong affiliation with the Presidential candidates.”
Most of the current conversation around the Electoral College right now is that they do not always have to vote for their party’s candidate. “27 states have laws on the books that require electors to vote for their party’s candidate if that candidate gets a majority of the state’s popular vote. In 24 states, no such laws apply, but common practice is for electors to vote for their party’s nominee.” So, what exactly does all that mean? It means that in 24 states, they do not need to vote for whoever wins the majority of votes. If someone does not vote with the majority in their state, they are called a Faithless Elector.
According to fairvote.org, there have been 157 Faithless Electors. 71 of the votes were changed because the original candidate died, three abstained, and 82 changed due to personal initiative.
There is a chance that no one gets a majority of Electoral College votes, and if this happens the election is thrown to the U.S. House of Representatives.
As we have seen in the recent election, it is entirely possible for a candidate to win the popular vote and lose the electoral college vote. This also happened in 2000 to Al Gore.
For more information on the Electoral College, go here. There’s plenty of information out there, and it’s always good to stay educated! 🙂