What You Need to Know:
- It is not a school, but a group of people composed of 538 members with the responsibility to elect the president. This is number equal to the amount of representatives in Congress plus an additional 3 members to represent Washington, DC.
- Each state has a certain number of representatives, but every state has an equal number of Senators, two each for a grand total of 100. The number of representatives is determined by a state’s population. Larger states have more representatives in Congress. Since Washington, DC is not a state, but a district, the 23rd amendment was ratified in 1961 to allow for the residents in Washington, DC to have three delegates to represent this district in presidential elections.
- The Electoral College was a compromise of ideas that came about during the constitutional convention to prevent a candidate from dominating a particular region of United States. It was also used as a result of the Framers’ reluctance to have the people directly elect the president for fear that people would have an undue allegiance to their states and that “regular” people were not smart enough to make the right decision. At this time in American history there was still a battle between the states and the federal government.
- The Constitution never uses the term Electoral College, but it does state the President [and Vice President] shall be elected by electors of each state, in the Article 2, Section1. This Article provides instructions, qualifications and duties to the Executive Branch of government—it includes the President and his Cabinet. The other two branches are the Legislative Branch (Article 1) and the Judicial Branch (Article 3) respectively.
- Electors are delegates selected by their states that have pledged to vote for their party’s nominee, and in some states these electors are legally required to uphold this pledged vote. But, electors can sometimes go against their pledge. In this case they are called “faithless electors” and the results become what happened in the 2000 Bush v. Gore election. States can replace fickle voters by December 11th, 2012.
- The magic number a candidate needs to be declared the President Elect (term given to the person declared on election night, November 6th, 2012) is 270. That is one-half of the total number of votes plus one.
- The person that wins the majority of the state’s popular vote wins all of that state’s electoral votes (Maine and Nebraska are exceptions: the electoral votes can be divided between the candidates).
- It is possible for a candidate to receive the majority of the popular votes, but not win the election because the electoral vote determines the winner of the presidency. There are 4 Presidential elections to which the above statement applies: 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. For the most part, it is pretty safe to say the Electoral College is effective, but it is still archaic!
- The popular vote is the one rendered by the people on election night, the electoral vote is the one rendered by the electors that vow to vote for the candidate the people want. Electors do not vote until December 17th, 2012. At this time, they go to their perspective states and cast a vote.
See you all on Election Night!