The Electoral College
Article II of the Constitution outlines the need for the president to be elected every four years using an electoral college, with the electorate in all states voting on the same day. The Founding Fathers feared popular sovereignty, so they created the electoral college to act as a filter or check on public opinion
.How does it work?
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· Each state has a value of electoral college votes (ECV) based on the number of congresspersons plus the number of Senators (in other words, +2) for that state. In addition, the 23rd amendment gives Washington DC three ECV.
· Candidates compete on a state-by-state basis, with the winner receiving all the electoral college votes in that state.
· All states use a 'winner takes all' system (even though the Constitution lets states decide how to allocate ECV).
· To win the presidency a candidate requires more than 50 per cent of ECV: 270 of the 538 votes available.
· The ECV is not simply a points-based system. In each state, the ECV number represents the number of delegates (or electors) who are selected.
· Larger states have a larger number of delegates, although this is not proportional to population. The constitution says that the value of each state is equal to the number of congresspersons plus the number of Senators.
· The 538 delegates who make up the electoral college vote to decide who the president will be.
· Most states require their delegates to vote according to state opinion, but 21 states make no such requirement.
· Maine and Nebraska use a winner-takes-all system, but two of their ECV are allocated to the winner of the whole state, and further ECV are awarded to the winner in each district within the state.
· The system is based on a respect for the principle of federalism, with voting taking place in each state and smaller states being protected, as they are overrepresented by the allocation of KV.
· If no candidate wins an absolute majority of electoral votes, the Constitution states that it is up to the House of Representatives to choose the president. Each state receives one vote. Therefore the representatives of each state must first decide between themselves who they support, and then they would vote as one. Thus, the winner would require an absolute majority of 26 or more out of the 50 votes.
· If no candidate wins an absolute majority of electoral votes, the vice president is chosen by the
Senate. Each senator gets one vote, and an absolute majority is necessary: 50 per cent +1 vote.
· Only twice in the history of the country has a candidate not received an absolute majority of electoral votes: in 1800 and in 1824.
'Rogue' or 'faithless' electors
There are 21 states with no requirement that the electors follow public voting, so some delegates occasionally vote contrary to the wishes of the people. This has happened in the majority of elections since 1960, although it has never changed a result. In 2016 there were seven rogue delegates. Clinton lost five delegates who should have voted for her, with three of those votes going to Colin Powell — a Republican politician — and Bernie Sanders and Faith Spotted Eagle — a Native American Activist — receiving the others.