"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done."
Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Retired Geek - Understanding The Electoral College

Do YOU understand The Electoral College and how it works?

Click here to see Understanding The Electoral College Part II.

In order to appreciate the reasons for the Electoral College, it is essential to understand its historical context and the problem that the Founding Fathers were trying to solve. They faced the difficult question of how to elect a President in a nation that:

  • Was composed of thirteen large and small States jealous of their own rights and powers and suspicious of any central national government.
  • Contained only 4,000,000 people spread up and down a thousand miles of Atlantic seaboard barely connected by transportation or communication (so that national campaigns were impractical even if they had been thought desirable).
  • Believed, under the influence of such British political thinkers as Henry St. John Bolingbroke, that political parties were mischievous if not downright evil.
  • Felt that gentlemen should not campaign for public office (The saying was "The office should seek the man, the man should not seek the office.").
  • Were adamantly opposed to a Democracy (or the Majority of the moment) and wanted a Constitutional Republic (rule by law).
The Origin of The Electoral College.

Our Founding Fathers designed The Electoral College in the United States Constitution which was later amended June 15, 1804, by the 12th Amendment which reads as follows:

The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.[1]
The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States
The Electoral College is comprised of 538 electors. Each State has 2 Electors to match the number of United States Senators and 435 electors to match the number of each member of the United States House of Representatives and the District of Columbia has 3 electors for a total of 538 electors (the Twenty-third Amendment ratified in 1961, granted the District three votes in the Electoral College. This right has been exercised by D.C. citizens since the presidential election of 1964).

How are the 'electors' selected.

The method of selecting electors may vary from State to State, but in general, the two most common ways are:
  • The elector is nominated by his or her state party committee (perhaps to reward many years of service to the party).
  • The elector "campaigns" for a spot and the decision is made during a vote held at the state's party convention.
There are no specific qualifications to be an elector, but the Constitution does specify what an elector cannot be:
  • He or she cannot be a Representative or Senator.
  • He or she cannot be a high-ranking U.S. official in a position of "trust or profit".
  • He or she cannot be someone who has "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against the United States
Theoretically, these eleven States could elect the President in EVERY election, without a single vote counted in any the other 39 States (270 votes are needed to elect the President).
NOTE: Population numbers are in millions.

Electoral College in the 2012 election.

Experts generally agree that these States will have Republican electors, which would give 56.7% of the necessary votes or 117 short.

Experts generally agree that these States will have Democrat electors, which would give 64.8% of the necessary votes or 95 short.

Although many think that the 2012 election will be a landslide loss for Barack Obama, the margin of whoever wins will probably be razor thin and a very close election.


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