(NewsBreakDaily.com) – Have you ever wondered how a presidential candidate can lose the popular vote yet still become President of the United States? In November 2016, President Donald Trump shocked the world by defeating Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, even though she had millions more votes.
The reason for his win? The electoral college. In fact, four Republican presidents have been elected this way — President Trump being the most recent. Since then, democratic presidential candidates have argued for the elimination of the electoral college system in favor of using the popular vote election system.
Our Founding Fathers created the electoral college as part of Article II of the Constitution (12th Amendment) because they didn’t want direct elections. At the time, they felt Americans wouldn’t know everyone on the list of candidates they’d be voting for.
They felt this method would help citizens make better decisions. And so, the electoral college became a compromise between the popular vote by citizens and a vote in Congress.
The other concern by our Founding Fathers was that more populated areas would dominate elections more so than areas with fewer people. This is why you have one elector allocated per senator so states with fewer people would have an equal vote.
What Is an Electoral College?
Many confuse the Electoral College as being a place. In actuality, it’s a process of selecting electors as well as counting the electoral votes by Congress.
There are a total of 538 electors, and to become president, a qualified person must get 270 electoral votes.
There are only two states that don’t have a winner-take-all policy where they only look at the winner of the popular vote: Maine and Nebraska. What they do, however, is appoint individual electors based on the winner of the popular vote for each Congressional district and then two electors for the overall state-wide popular vote.
How Are Electors Chosen?
Presidential candidates who win the nomination for their political party have their own group of electors, also known as slates. Each state varies how they select their slates but they’re generally chosen through political party affiliation.
According to the US Constitution, Article II, section 1, clause 2 provides that “…no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.”
The 14th Amendment also states that any person who rebelled against the United States, gave aid to and comforted enemies, or engaged in insurrection is disqualified from serving as an elector.
How It Works
The office of the Federal Registrar is in charge of the Electoral College, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
After each state has chosen electors who have pledged to vote for particular candidates in mid-December, voters take to the polls in November to select their choice for President and Vice President.
After the general election, states send their “Certificates of Ascertainment” to the Office of the Federal Register with the names of the electors who have pledged to vote for the winner of the popular vote.
The NARA reviews each state’s “Certificates of Ascertainment” to ensure the list of names meet all legal requirements to vote. Only after the lists have been vetted, can the selected electors cast their votes in mid-December.
The following year on January 6th, Congress meets in a joint session with electors to conduct an official count of votes. The vice president, as president of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the vote.
The president of the Senate then announces the names of those selected as president and vice president of the United States. They’re then sworn into office on January 20th.
What Has to Happen to Change the Electoral College System?
Since the creation of the Electoral College System by the Founding Fathers, much has changed in the popular voting system as more citizens have been granted the right to vote, while the system itself hasn’t changed at all.
In the history of the United States’ presidential elections, only four candidates have become president through the Electoral College process while losing the popular vote; Rutherford B. Hayes (1876), Benjamin Harrison (1888), George W. Bush (2000), and Donald Trump (2016).
They were all Republican Party candidates. Perhaps this is why the majority in the Democratic Party are pushing to have the electoral college system eliminated in favor of the popular vote.
Critics of the Electoral College System argue that it’s undemocratic. In other words, a candidate shouldn’t win without winning the popular vote, and the winner-takes-all approach cancels the vote of the losing candidate.
Meanwhile, supporters of the Electoral College System argue that it requires candidates to earn the support of voters outside larger cities and influence smaller states. It legitimizes the electoral process more than that of a popular vote, and helps preserve a two-party system.
For now, many state governors are pushing for laws that would award electors to the winner of the popular vote.
In order to change the current Electoral College System, a constitutional amendment is needed, which would not only take a long time to implement but would also require a lot of support by the American people.
While many would like to see changes to the Electoral College System, it’s likely that it won’t happen any time soon.
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