In the United States of America, a system called the Electoral College is used to select the president and vice president. This system was created as part of the U.S. Constitution and is still used in America today. Under this process, American citizens do not directly vote for candidates running for the offices of president and vice president. Electors from each state are chosen by the citizens to represent them in the election process. These electors are trusted to cast their vote based on the popular vote of the state. Each state has a certain number of electoral votes based on the number of members the state has in Congress. Since
1964, the Electoral College has been made up of 538 members that represent all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. In order to win an election, a candidate must receive the majority, or 270, of the electoral votes available.
The Electoral College has often been viewed in a negative way when compared to the popular vote. In some cases, a candidate that has the majority of the popular vote has actually lost the election because of the electoral votes. In the year 2000, the presidential race between George Bush and Al Gore was decided in the state of Florida. The election was so close that the state of Florida was forced to recount the votes several times before a final decision was made. Florida’s 25 electoral votes were finally awarded to Bush, and he won the election with a total of 271 electoral votes. In the state of Florida, Bush won the popular vote by only a little over 500 votes, but that was enough to gain the 25 electoral votes needed to win the election. Nationwide, Al Gore had the most popular votes of the two candidates, but he lost the election because of the Electoral College.
Several efforts have been made to revise the election process to a direct voting system based on the popular vote, but none have succeeded. Supporters of the Electoral College believe that the system gives each state fair representation in the election process based on population. These same people believe that the system was developed in the U.S. Constitution in order to keep a federal system of government with representation of the citizens. On the other hand, opponents of the Electoral College point out the fact that the popular vote is not always represented properly. Because of this fact, citizens often will not participate in the election process because they feel their vote does not really count. To many citizens, it seems unfair that a candidate that wins the majority of the popular vote can still lose an election because of the Electoral College process.