The electoral college today



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THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE TODAY





  1. Electors




  1. total # of electors

538


  1. # of electors per state (What did 23rd Amend do?)

Based on total # of seats in Congress. 23rd Amend. gave 3 electoral votes to Washington D.C.. (435+100+3 = 538)


  1. # needed to win (What happens if no candidate gets this many?)

Simple majority = 270/538. If no candidate gets 270, the House picks the president and the Senate picks the Vice-President.


  1. Who chooses the electors? (Does the popular vote matter?)

Electors are chosen in any manner decided on by a state’s legislature. In modern times, state legislatures defer to the political party of the candidate who wins the popular vote. In other words, the candidate who wins the popular vote in a state will likely win ALL of that state’s electoral votes since the electors are being picked by his party.


  1. For whom do electors vote? (What did 12th Amend do?)

An elector may vote for ANYONE they want, including someone who is not even running. According to the 12th Amendment, electors may cast ONE vote for president and ONE vote for VP (prior to this, there was no formal vote for VP and the candidate who came in 2nd for president assumed the VP spot).

II. Major flaw in the system (Why didn’t Al Gore win in 2000?)
The major flaw in the system is that a candidate can win the popular vote and still lose the election (as happened to Al Gore in 2000).
This can happen because a presidential election is a STATE-BY-STATE contest. If a candidate wins the popular vote in enough states to accumulate 270 electoral votes, he/she wins the presidency.
Gore won the popular vote by a wide margin in many states, but he did not win it in enough states to get 270 electors in his column. He needed to win ONE more state. Bush got 271 electoral votes from the states where he won the popular vote.
III. Most popular reform idea (Why will it never happen?)
The most popular reform idea is to get rid of the Electoral College

altogether and go to a DIRECT POPULAR ELECTION. In this

system, the winner of the popular vote would become president.
This will likely never happen because it would require an

AMENDMENT to the Constitution (2/3 vote in each house of

Congress followed by approval in 3/4 of the states) and the

SMALLER STATES will not vote for it.
FOR EXAMPLE, California is approximately 53 times bigger than Wyoming in population (as evidenced by the fact that we have 53 seats in the House and Wyoming only has 1). However, in the Electoral College, Wyoming gets 3 votes, while we only get 55.
This means that we only have about 18 times more power in choosing the president, despite our huge population. Wyoming likes their extra power and won’t likely vote to get rid of it!



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