The Electoral College: How it works
Axia College University of Phoenix
How do we elect the President? Many people do not understand the process by which we elect the President. They do not understand how the Electoral College works. Bill Stern (Andrews, 1996) said, “Our elections are free, it's in the results where eventually we pay.” Oftentimes, people vote based on public opinion or information obtained by the media. Voters should inform themselves on how the Electoral College works in order to make good decisions when voting for the president.
Electoral College delegates elect the President. Voters elect Electoral College delegates. The Electoral College was created as a ...view middle of the document...
Today, voters choose Electors by popular election. The 23rd Amendment permits the District of Columbia to choose electors. Congress proposed this amendment on June 17, 1960 because in 1960 the District had a greater population than 13 of the 50 states. The states ratified the amendment on March 29, 1961 (Mount, 2001).
When our founding fathers drafted the Constitution, they could not foresee every event that could happen. They did not foresee the formation of political parties. The 12th Amendment also covers instances where one party might get all the votes. We currently have two major political parties in our country: Democratic and Republican. Each party awards delegates differently because it has different views. The Democratic Party uses pledged delegates and super delegates, and the Republican Party uses pledged and un-pledged delegates. The Democratic system awards delegates proportionally to the popular vote. If a candidate gets 80% of the popular vote, then he or she will get 80% of the delegates. In addition, a candidate must get at least 15% of the votes to be awarded any delegates. To receive the nomination of their party at the convention, a candidate must receive 2,024 of a possible 4,047 votes. The Republican system awards all delegates to the candidate with the most votes; they do not require a 15% minimum. To receive the nomination of their party at the convention, a candidate must receive 1,191 of a possible 2,380 votes (How Stuff Works). Voters should inform themselves on how many delegates the candidates of their choice have before the election to make informed decisions. Currently, the Electoral College is composed of one delegate for each House Representative and Senator and three delegates for the District of Columbia. The graphic shown below shows how states with higher populations like California, Texas, New York, and Florida can have a huge impact on the final election results.
Number of Electoral College Votes by State
Note. From U.S. Electoral College 2000 Presidential Election.
Delegate selection for the Electoral College happens in a variety of ways. Each state decides how it selects its electors. Currently, every state allows its electors to be chosen by popular vote. The political party usually nominates electors at their state conventions or by a vote of the party’s central committee. Political parties select electors to recognize their service and dedication. These electors are state-elected officials, party leaders, or people with a personal or political affiliation with a candidate. Some states show the electors’ names on the ballot others do not. Voters should research the process of selecting electors in their state and for their political party. Voters should inform themselves on what their ballot format is before National Election Day. When we vote for a pair of candidates on a ticket, we are selecting a group of electors to serve in the Electoral College.