Introduction: What Is The Electoral College?
With the US Presidential elections around the corner, you might be wondering how the American President is elected. This video explains how the electoral college works and how the president is elected. The Electoral College is a group of people that elects the president and the vice president of the United States.
American voters go to the polls on Tuesday following the first Monday in November, but the ballots that they cast do not directly elect the president, in a popular vote. Instead, the will of the voters is reflected in the actions of state electors.
The electors are appointed by the political parties in each state, so if you vote for Donald J. Trump on Tuesday, and Mr Trump ends up winning the popular vote in your state, then electors that the Republican Party has chosen will cast votes for him in their state capitals in December.
Electoral College: How Does It Work?
There are a total of 538 electors which consists of 438 representatives + 100 senators. Each state gets a certain number of electoral votes based on its population size. Every state gets at least three electoral votes. California has the most electoral votes, with 55. Texas is next, with 38. New York and Florida have 29 each.
Electoral votes are apportioned on a winner-take-all basis. This means that if a candidate wins the state of Texas, then he/she gets all 38 of the state’s electoral votes.On the first Monday following the second Wednesday in December, those electors meet —typically in the capitals of their respective states—to cast their ballots. On January 6 of the year following the election, a joint session of Congress is convened to tally and certify the electoral votes.
If a presidential candidate has received 270 or more electoral votes, the sitting vice president, acting as president of the Senate, then declares that person to be the president-elect, thus concluding the Electoral College process.
Has An Elector Ever Broken His or Her Promise?
Yes, this has happened many times. There’s even an insulting name for an elector who does so: a “faithless elector.” However, faithless electors have never affected the final result of any presidential election. Although the Electoral College result has typically been in alignment with the national popular vote, there have been some notable outliers. Rutherford B. Hayes (1876), Benjamin Harrison (1888), George W. Bush (2000), and Donald Trump (2016) each won the electoral vote while losing the popular vote.
While the recent examples have led to widespread questioning of the continued relevance of the electoral college, its abolition in favour of a nationwide popular vote would require a constitutional amendment—a fairly monumental undertaking.