"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

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Retired Geek - Understanding The Electoral College Part II

Do YOU understand The Electoral College and how it works?

Click here to see Understanding The Electoral College Part I.

Electoral College in the 2012 election.

Experts generally agree that these States are 'Battleground or Swing States' in the 2012 Presidential race, and could vote either Republican or Democrat, and comprise 37.9% of the total Electoral College votes.

Any combination of these States that give the Republican candidate 175 Electoral College votes or 85.7% of the 204, would assure a Republican President in 2012.

Any combination of these States that give the Democrat candidate 153 Electoral College votes or 75% of the 204, would assure a Democrat President in 2012.

What Happens if both candidates receive 269 Electoral College votes or do NOT receive a majority of electoral college votes?

Has this EVER happened before in United States History?

Yes twice, in the election of 1800 Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr both tied with 73 electoral votes, while 130 votes were split among three other candidates.

In 1824, Andrew Jackson received 99 votes, John Quincy Adams got 84 votes, and two other candidates took the remaining 78 votes. In both these cases, no candidate received a majority of the total electoral votes cast.

How is this resolved?

The 12th Amendment clearly spells this out (Ratified September 24, 1804):
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 of 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. -- 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.
NOTE: Joe Biden is President of the Senate.

Can the Presidential candidate win the popular vote and lose the election by the Electoral college?

Yes, this has happened four (4) times in American History.

Andrew Jackson 1824;
Jackson received the most popular votes but not a majority. Also note that four states had no popular ballot. Jackson also received the most electoral votes. Since there was no majority, the election was decided by the House of Representatives who chose John Q. Adams. The Election of 1824 is known as the "Corrupt Bargain". There is a belief that Adams and current Speaker of the House at that time, Henry Clay, conspired to give the election to Adams. Future actions laid credence to that belief because after the Adams assumed the presidency, Henry Clay became Adam's Secretary of State.
Samuel Tilden 1876;
Tilden won the popular vote by about 250,000 votes but lost in the Electoral College. The election was decided in the House of Representatives due to 4 state's Electoral College votes being contested (Florida, Oregon, Louisiana, and South Carolina). The election was officially won by Rutherford B. Hayes.
Grover Cleveland 1888;
Voter turnout was 79.3% because of a large interest on the issue of tariffs with Cleveland promising to lower it and Harrison saying America need a strong protectionist tariff to keep the country vital. The result was nearly eleven million votes were cast and although Harrison received 90,596 fewer popular votes than Cleveland, Harrison carried the Electoral College 233 to 168. It is widely believed that the Tammany Hall machine worked to insure that Cleveland would not carry his home state of New York depriving him of the 36 electoral votes need to win the presidency.
Al Gore 2000;
Gore won the popular vote by 543,895 votes but lost the election in the Electoral College. George W. Bush won Florida by just 537 votes and a recount was automatically started because of Florida's Election law. The Bush v. Gore decision from the Supreme Court ruled that the method that Florida's recount was being handled (which was not consistent in each county) was unconstitutional and that no constitutionally valid recount could be completed by the December 12, 2000 deadline, effectively ending all recounts in the state.
NOTE from RG: Those of us who believe that the United States should adhere to, and abide by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, must be careful when criticizing or demonizing the Electoral College, which was framed and instituted by our Founding Fathers, and has been Constitutional since the 12th Amendment was ratified in 1804.


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