The Electoral College vs. Popular Vote

It hasn't happened often, but what would happen if the electoral college vote and popular vote are split?

It's a close race, no doubt about that. The two candidates are neck and neck in virtually every poll. 

If you look at the attached Electoral Map, you'll quickly see that the majority of states are red, but the number of electoral college votes go to President Obama. 

So what is this electoral college?

The electoral college is a process, not a place, according to the U.S. National Archives. The electors are nominated at either their State party conventions or by votes from the state's central committee. 

According to the Archives, "Electors are often chosen to recognize service and dedication to their political party. They may be State-elected officials, party leaders, or persons who have a personal or political affiliation with the Presidential candidate."

Voters in each state choose the electors by casting votes for the presidential candidate of their choice on election day, according to the Archives. In some states, the names of the electors appear on the ballot below the name of the candidates. The winning candidate in the state's elections are awarded all the electoral votes (except in Nebraska and Maine).

No federal law requires that the electors vote for who the general population voted for.

However, legislation signed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown seeks to give California more electoral clout. The law is part of a multi-state effort to circumvent the Electoral College system, the United States’s electoral system that confers disproportionate power on sparsely-populated and swing states. 

The National Popular Vote law would give California’s 55 Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote.


How does it work?

A total of 538 electors exist. A majority of 270 decide the presidency. Allocations of electoral votes are based on the most recent census. 

On Dec. 16, the electors will get together to cast their votes. On Jan. 6, Congress will count the votes and make it official. 

Throughout history, four presidents lost the popular vote but won the electoral: John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888 and George W. Bush in 2000. 

(On a side note: this basically ensures that an independent candidate has no chance of ever becoming president.)


Why does it even exist?

Because, when it was first formed in 1788, information was hard to come by. They didn't want the vote to fall to people who may not know all the facts. Some thought that Congress should select the president, others thought it should be based purely on popular decision. The Electoral College was the compromise. 

The division of electoral votes are as follows:

  • California - 55
  • Alabama - 9
  • Alaska - 3
  • Arizona - 11
  • Arkansas - 6
  • Colorado - 9
  • Connecticut - 7
  • Delaware - 3
  • D.C. - 3
  • Florida - 29
  • Georgia - 16
  • Hawaii - 4
  • Idaho - 4
  • Illinois - 20
  • Indiana - 11
  • Iowa - 6
  • Kansas - 6
  • Kentucky - 8
  • Louisiana - 8
  • Maine - 4
  • Maryland - 10
  • Massachussetts - 11
  • Michigan - 16
  • Minnesota - 10
  • Mississippi - 6
  • Missouri - 10
  • Montana - 3
  • Nebraska - 5
  • Nevada - 6
  • New Hampshire - 4
  • New Jersey - 14
  • New Mexico - 5
  • New York - 29
  • North Carolina - 15
  • North Dakota - 3
  • Ohio - 18
  • Oklahoma - 7
  • Oregon - 7
  • Pennsylvania - 20
  • Rhode Island - 4
  • South Carolina - 9
  • South Dakota - 3
  • Tennessee - 11
  • Texas - 38
  • Utah - 6
  • Vermont - 3
  • Virginia - 13
  • Washington - 12
  • West Virginia - 5
  • Wisconsin - 10
  • Wyoming - 3
Luther Weeks November 06, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Cobbling the National Popular Vote on an already flawed system adds to the risks and increases the chances of close elections ending in the Supreme Court or in Congress, Consider: - There is no official national popular vote number available in time for when electors must be designated. Electors are chosen before states are required to send in their Certificates of Attainment - There is no national audit or recount law. About half of states have audits and about half recount, but recounts are based on close vote counts in each state, there is no law or body to call for a national recount. - Given the state by state election system, unlike today, fraud or error in each state can change the national result - If the Compact approach is taken the flawed system will remain, with worse effects.There are many reasons candidates and citizens could sue and delay results past required dates based on officials using incorrect, unverified, or different sets of numbers. - Finally all votes are not equal, state to state. The franchise is different, the ease of voting is different, and there is voter suppression. To do the NPV with integrity, as a prerequisite, we need a system where every vote and voter is equal, is counted in a way we can trust, with national audits and recounts etc.
Pretty Asian... November 06, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Please vote NOT on popularity but on substance. Vote wisely!


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