The Electoral College is a complicated subject for many Americans. The system was established by the founding fathers as a way to have states play a role in the executive branch.
This was one of the many ways the founders looked to separate the powers within the country so that no group would become too powerful. This is seen in many places. The legislative branch is broken up into two bodies, the house of representatives and the senate.
Originally, members of the house were to be elected by their constituency locally and senators would be chosen by state officials. However, this has changed, and Senators are now elected by the entire state. Still, you can see that the founders did not want too much power in the hands of one group of people.
This is also seen in the judicial branch. While some judges are elected, others are appointed.
Much of that logic went into the creation of the Electoral College. The system was put in place to allow states and educated voters to choose the head of the executive branch.
Each state is given a certain number of electoral votes. This is determined by the state’s number of representatives in the house (determined by population size) and then their number of senators, which is two for every state. Pennsylvania for example, has 18 representatives and two senators, therefore has 20 electoral votes.
Parties then choose electors, or educated voters, to represent each state. When we vote in a “presidential election” we aren’t really voting for the one person we prefer. We are voting for the electors from the party of that person who will go to Washington if selected by the state to vote for the presidency.
For example, in 2016, President Trump won Pennsylvania. Since a majority of Pennsylvania voted for President Trump, and in this case, the 20 republican electors, those were the electors that went to Washington to represent Pennsylvania.
While each elector has their own vote and can choose whoever they want, many states have regulations in place so that whoever they send must vote for the candidate that the voters of that state chose.
Many states have a winner take all system. This means that all of their electoral votes go to the candidate who won the majority; however, some states have a proportional system, meaning their electoral votes are split based on what percentage of the state’s vote each candidate received.
The popular vote does not matter in the Electoral College system. However, some people prefer this method to the one we have now. In a popular vote, the candidate that receives the most amount of votes across the entire country wins the election.
The electoral college poses a challenge to presidential candidates. You can’t just win the big states to win the election. Also, you must campaign in and win many smaller states.
With 538 electoral votes in the country, the race is to 270. You must reach a majority of electoral votes to capture the presidency.
Regardless of what side you prefer, the Electoral College was created for a reason. The founders did not want the president to be chosen by only the largest states like California, Texas and New York. In the Electoral College system, every state, big or small, has a say.