Understanding The Electoral College

Understanding The Electoral College



Understanding the Electoral College
The ground shook in​ the year 2000, as​ the cries of​ outrage rang across the United States .​
What do you MEAN the popular vote didn't win!?!?! One could hardly blame the citizens for being shocked; the last time this happened was in​ 1888! The Electoral College vote had over-ridden the popular vote .​
George Bush was going into office.. .​
by the grace of​ just five electoral votes, despite having gotten 543,816 fewer popular votes than Al Gore .​
Even some of​ the people who voted for Bush were mad.. .​
because no matter who won, it​ was obvious that something was awry.
To understand the invention of​ the Electoral College, we have to​ look at​ the circumstances under which it​ was created .​
The founding fathers faced the unique difficulty of​ how to​ elect a​ president in​ a​ newly formed nation .​
Where they'd come from, there were only kings, so they had no practical experience; they had to​ wing it .​
The country at​ the time was made up of​ 13 states of​ varying sizes .​
Each of​ them had their own laws and powers .​
Everybody had just come through a​ scary revolution and still had a​ phobia about powerful, centralized governments.
The country consisted of​ a​ mere 4,000,000 citizens spread over hundreds of​ miles of​ Atlantic coastline, with no transportation but ships and horses, and none of​ the modern communication technology that we enjoy today .​
Keep in​ mind also that many citizens were slaves, and many more were women .​
The Constitution Convention met together and hashed this out .​
They debated several methods of​ electing a​ president .​
Eventually, the members settled on an​ indirect election of​ the President through the College of​ Electors .​
Remember that they only knew monarchy where they came from? So they got the idea from the Catholic Church; it, too, selects a​ new Pope using a​ College of​ Cardinals! In a​ hierarchical system in​ which the most informed and knowledgeable individuals would guide the process, the College would select the President based on merit alone, and not on what state he was from or​ what political party he was in.
It looked good on paper .​
And when's the last time you'd heard somebody complain about how the Pope got elected?
So it​ got set down in​ Article II, Section 1 of​ the Constitution .​
Each state would get a​ set amount of​ Electors .​
Kind of​ like the rules for doling out armies in​ the board game Risk, it​ didn't matter how the rules for dispensing Electors was set up, so long as​ it​ was fair enough .​
So they decided that allotted Electors would be based on the number of​ Representatives in​ each state, plus two for each state's Senators .​
Since provisions were left in​ place to​ ensure that each state could create more districts and appoint more Representatives as​ their populations grew, and since how Electors were to​ be chosen would be left up to​ each state, they figured everybody would be happy with that.
The original rules were changed and bounced around over time .​
Different states have different methods for assigning Electors .​
The system we have today wasn't written into Federal law until 1845 .​
But that isn't what you want to​ know .​
What you want to​ know is, since the Electors still, for the most part, have to​ vote what the popular vote in​ their district tells them to​ vote, how can a​ candidate win the popular vote but lose the Elector Vote?
Take an​ experiment: you will need 25 pennies, 20 nickels, and 5 cups .​
Let the pennies be Gore voters, the nickels be Bush voters, and the cups are the 5 districts in​ your state .​
Some states have 5 districts, some have 3, California has 55 .​
So pretend your state has 5 districts for a​ minute.
In 3 of​ the cups, put into each one 6 nickels and 3 pennies .​
In the other 2 cups, put into each one 1 nickel and 8 pennies .​
Now each cup has 9 coins, so the districts are divided evenly .​
5 times 9 is​ 45, and 25 pennies plus 20 nickels is​ 45.
Yet three of​ the cups have more nickels than pennies, while only two of​ the cups have more pennies than nickels .​
The nickels won, even though they were outnumbered by 25%!
The same concept works with districts, which are determined by where you live when you register to​ vote .​
If 501 people in​ your district vote red and 499 vote blue, your district comes out red .​
If 999 people in​ your district vote red and only 1 votes blue, your district still comes out the exact same shade of​ red! So past a​ certain point, the votes really don't count if​ a​ majority has already been reached.
Even if​ you understand it, doesn't it​ still drive just you crazy?




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