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The Electoral College and US Presidential elections - The who, what, when and why.

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posted on May, 8 2016 @ 11:17 PM
Voting for President / Vice President of the United States has 2 basic elements. We covered Felons losing the right to vote so lets take a look at how we choose our President / Vice President -

Need to know to understand -
Contrary to popular belief the United States is not a Democracy. It is a Constitutional Representative Republic. What does this mean? It means the people vote for the candidate they want to represent them in government (since we are dealing with the Federal elections we will stick to that area). When you vote for your House of Representative candidate, you are saying you want that individual to act on your behalf in Congress. You also vote for your Senator, who in turn represents the state in Congress.When you vote for President / Vice President you are selecting a person to represent the United States to the rest of the world.

The House of Representatives - Represents the people.
The Senate - Represents the States.

The Basic elements - President / Vice President - Represents the entire nation.
Element #1 (Referred to as the Popular vote)- The people in each state who are eligible to vote go to the polls and vote for their candidate (electors) on election day (November 8th 2016).
Element #2 (Electoral College) - Electors in each state meet Monday after the second Wednesday in December, at which time they cast their electoral votes on separate ballots for president and vice president.

What is the Electoral College -

In the United States, the President and Vice President are not elected directly by the people; rather, they are elected indirectly through the Electoral College process. This election procedure, governed by Amendment XII of the United States Constitution, provides that citizens cast votes for “electors” who, in turn, directly elect the president and vice president. Each state is allotted a number of electors equal to the number of House Representatives and Senators from that particular state; there are a total of 538 electors, who represent “the sum of the nation’s 435 Representatives, 100 Senators, and 3 electors given to the District of Columbia.” In order to win the election, a presidential candidate must receive a majority of electoral votes—270 electoral votes. If there is a tie, then Amendment XII of the United States Constitution provides that the members of the House of Representatives vote to elect the President and Vice President.

Why the Electoral College?
When our founding Fathers got together they wanted a system of the people, by the people and for the people. However, on the off chance the people lose their minds and elect a person who should just not be there, the electoral college was put in place to "correct" any mistakes the people make. The electoral college, at first, was not under any legal obligation to vote for the person the people voted for. So theoretically the electoral college could vote for whomever they wished.

In the general election, each party’s candidates correspond with “their own unique slate of potential Electors.” When a citizen casts a vote for a particular party’s candidate, he/she is in fact voting for that slate of Electors. The slate of Electors that correspond with the political party receiving the majority of the votes within a particular state “become that State’s Electors -- so that, in effect, whichever presidential ticket gets the most popular votes in a State wins all of the Electors of that State.” The two exceptions are Nebraska and Maine, whose Electors vote proportionally to the votes in those states.

The Electoral College today -

While the chosen Electors are not constitutionally required to vote for the candidates of the party with which they are associated, state law and/or pledges from the political party restrict the Electors to voting only for that party’s candidate. In addition, such “faithless Electors” “may be subject to fines or may be disqualified for casting an invalid vote and be replaced by a substitute elector,” pursuant to state law. Faithless Electors have been rare, however, because “the political parties submit the names of their own electors, and those coveted spots are reserved for party loyalists who are unlikely to defect.”

How are Electors chosen -
Qualifications - -

The U.S. Constitution contains very few provisions relating to the qualifications of Electors. Article II, section 1, clause 2 provides that no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector. As a historical matter, the 14th Amendment provides that State officials who have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States or given aid and comfort to its enemies are disqualified from serving as Electors. This prohibition relates to the post-Civil War era.

Each state’s Certificates of Ascertainment confirms the names of its appointed electors. A state’s certification of its electors is generally sufficient to establish the qualifications of electors.

see next post

posted on May, 8 2016 @ 11:17 PM
How Electors are selected -

The process for selecting Electors varies throughout the United States. Generally, the political parties nominate Electors at their State party conventions or by a vote of the party’s central committee in each State. Each candidate will have their own unique slate of potential Electors as a result of this part of the selection process.

Electors are often chosen to recognize service and dedication to their political party. They may be State-elected officials, party leaders, or persons who have a personal or political affiliation with the Presidential candidate.

On Election Day, the voters in each State choose the Electors by casting votes for the presidential candidate of their choice. The Electors’ names may or may not appear on the ballot below the name of the candidates running for President, depending on the procedure in each State. The winning candidate in each State—except in Nebraska and Maine, which have proportional distribution of the Electors—is awarded all of the State’s Electors. In Nebraska and Maine, the state winner receives two Electors and the winner of each congressional district receives one Elector. This system permits the Electors from Nebraska and Maine to be awarded to more than one candidate.

Electoral College verse Popular Vote -
Many people have talked about removing the electoral college and moving to a popular vote. On the surface it seems simple enough. However when you look under the hood you will find its anything but.

One argument critics note is the possibility for a party’s candidates to receive the required 270 electoral votes—and thereby win the election—without having won a majority of the popular votes of the citizenry. While this is true, supporters argue in response that the Electoral College system facilitates “cohesiveness of the country,” notwithstanding even the election of such a minority President. In other words, a particular candidate may hold a popular majority of the votes solely because those votes are “heavily concentrated in a few States.” If the Electoral College did not exist, and such a candidate were to win the election, then that candidate would only be representing the interests of those specific regions, and the country could become regionally divided. Instead, the Electoral College system seeks to maintain cohesiveness by ensuring a “distribution of popular support” across the country, incentivizing “presidential candidates to pull together coalitions of states and regions, rather than to exacerbate regional differences.”

President's who have won the electoral college without winning the popular vote - I.E. elected without a mandate -
While this topic always pops up during elections in the 230+ years of the United States existence only 4 presidents have been elected by winning the electoral college while losing the popular vote -

* - John Quincy Adams - 1824 - Neither candidate won the required number of electoral votes, resulting in Congress choosing the President under the 12th amendment to the US Constitution.
* - Rutherford B. Hayes - 1876 - A mess - see the Compromise of 1877
* - Benjamin Harrison - 1888 - normal politics.
* - George W. Bush - 2000 - The hanging chad fiasco out of Florida.

So winning the electoral vote and losing the popular vote is not as common as what people make it out to be.

Are there restrictions on who the Electors can vote for? -

There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires Electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their States. Some States, however, require Electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. These pledges fall into two categories—Electors bound by State law and those bound by pledges to political parties.

Electors who vote for someone other than the person voted for are called Faithless Electors. Since the founding of our nation up to 2015, 150+ accounts of a faithless elector has occurred with no change in outcome of the elections.

As of 2000 List of State Laws and Requirements Regarding the Electors

The Office of the Federal Register presents this material for informational purposes only, in response to numerous public inquiries. The list has no legal significance. It is based on information compiled by the Congressional Research Service. For more comprehensive information, refer to the U.S. Constitution and applicable Federal laws.

Legal Requirements or Pledges
Electors in these States are bound by State Law or by pledges to cast their vote for a specific candidate:

ALABAMA – Party Pledge / State Law – § 17-19-2
ALASKA – Party Pledge / State Law – § 15.30.040; 15.30.070
CALIFORNIA – State Law – § 6906
COLORADO – State Law – § 1-4-304
CONNECTICUT – State Law – § 9-175
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA – DC Pledge / DC Law – § 1-1312(g)
FLORIDA – Party Pledge / State Law – § 103.021(1)
HAWAII – State Law – §§ 14-26 to 14-28
MAINE – State Law – § 805
MARYLAND – State Law – § 20-4
MASSACHUSETTS – Party Pledge / State Law – Ch. 53, § 8, Supp.
MICHIGAN – State Law – §168.47 (Violation cancels vote and Elector is replaced.)
MISSISSIPPI – Party Pledge / State Law – §23-15-785(3)
MONTANA – State Law – § 13-25-104
NEBRASKA – State Law – § 32-714
NEVADA – State Law – § 298.050
NEW MEXICO – State Law – § 1-15-5 to 1-15-9 (Violation is a fourth degree felony.)
NORTH CAROLINA – State Law – § 163-212 (Violation cancels vote; elector is replaced and is subject to $500 fine.)
OHIO – State Law – § 3505.40
OKLAHOMA – State Pledge / State Law – 26, §§ 10-102; 10-109 (Violation of oath is a misdemeanor, carrying a fine of up to $1000.)
OREGON – State Pledge / State Law – § 248.355
SOUTH CAROLINA – State Pledge / State Law – § 7-19-80 (Replacement and criminal sanctions for violation.)
VERMONT – State Law – title 17, § 2732
* VIRGINIA – State Law – § 24.1-162 (Virginia statute may be advisory – “Shall be expected” to vote for nominees.)
WASHINGTON – Party Pledge / State Law – §§ 29.71.020, 29.71.040, Supp. ($1000 fine.)
WISCONSIN – State Law – § 7.75
WYOMING – State Law – §§ 22-19-106; 22-19-108

No Legal Requirement
Electors in these States are not bound by State Law to cast their vote for a specific candidate:


Trivia -
The United States has had 44 US Presidents but has had only 43 men serve as President. How?

Grover Cleveland was elected in in 1885 as the 22nd President of the United States. He lost reelection in 1889 to Benjamin Harrison. He ran again and won reelection in 1893, becoming the 24th President of the United States.

To date he is the only President to have won his election, lost his reelection, and won reelection on the 2nd attempt. Because his administration was broken up by Harrison being elected, he holds 2 separate terms in office instead of 1.

Hopefully this explains what the electoral college is, how it works and why it was put in place.

As always any questions / comments / concerns / thoughts ask away.

edit on 8-5-2016 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)

edit on 8-5-2016 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 9 2016 @ 12:00 AM
a reply to: Xcathdra

I've held the view that doing away with the electoral college would centralize the power in the big five states, as pointed out in your post. I also feel, especially in these times, that it would likely destroy the Union. Do you agree with that assessment?

Next question is changing various state requirements, especially when influenced financially by outside interests. al? Do these threaten the overall electoral process? Should it be standardized, nation-wide?

edit on 9-5-2016 by nwtrucker because: (no reason given)

edit on 9-5-2016 by nwtrucker because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 9 2016 @ 12:06 AM
a reply to: nwtrucker

I agree with you on the electoral college and that position is because of the point you raised about financing. Until we can get money out of politics (as well as non human entities / businesses etc) the electoral college is one of the few, if not the only, thing holding the ship of state together.

I do think there should be a uniform law across all states requiring the electoral college to vote the way the majority of people in their state voted.

However, on the other hand, the electoral college has thus far worked as intended so im leary about messing with something thats not broke.
edit on 9-5-2016 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 9 2016 @ 12:12 AM
a reply to: Xcathdra

Got it.

Is there ANY positive in doing away with the electoral college and becoming, at least presidentially, a 'democracy' in fact?

posted on May, 9 2016 @ 12:22 AM
a reply to: nwtrucker

Sure but only if we can remove money and non human entities from the mix. Those elected are suppose to represent the people and not the people who own the business's with unlimited money. I guess for me the electoral college kind of serves as a checks / balance on the issue.

A popular vote would remove the electoral college and make smaller states more important. It could serve as a counter to the states who had large electoral votes.

posted on May, 9 2016 @ 06:36 AM
a reply to: Xcathdra

Fantastic! Thanks for a great overview of the complicated system of electoral college politics, which has become the base for strange opinions lately amidst this populist storm. I hear people talk about ending the electoral system all the time, and to make the whole government "by the people, for the people" as if a democratic republic could function in any other fashion. Still, money is the major issue and regardless of the system, when money finds its way into the definition of justice, then a state is only a few steps away from some form of tyrannical corporation-ism.

posted on May, 9 2016 @ 07:53 AM
a reply to: Xcathdra

I see the smaller states losing importance rather than gaining.

I saw, many years ago, an article(?) that stated that Wyoming's electoral college votes were 75 times stronger than California'
s. This was apparently based on population ratio to number of electoral votes. It was to offset, to some degree, that population difference as a means of convincing these then smaller territories who had reached the minimum 50,000 population to join the Union.

If this is accurate, then small states lose that edge if based by popular vote.

The only question I have left is "winner takes all" vs splitting the electoral college votes based on percentiles of each states election results.The Perot supporters back in the day complained that they received 10% of the national vote and ZERO electoral college votes.

I suppose the biggest mis-understanding is there is no 'national vote'. There are 50 separate federal elections for President.

posted on May, 10 2016 @ 01:17 AM
a reply to: nwtrucker

For a popular vote election smaller states become more important as they all of a sudden count during the elections. We have seen contests where a candidate won a state by a few thousand votes. Without the electoral college smaller states can negate those few thousand votes and push a candidate who lost New York or California over the top to win.

That's assuming safeguards are in place reference money and non people entities trying to buy elections.

posted on May, 10 2016 @ 01:21 AM
An excellent summary!

posted on May, 10 2016 @ 01:25 AM
a reply to: hubrisinxs

Money always seems to be the issue and until we get the government under control, and prevent the US Supreme Court from legislating from the bench, the only alternatives are to either keep pushing for change until we get it or passing constitutional amendments, which in and of itself, depending on method, could be the silver bullet or the head shot that ends the "great experiment" that is the US.

posted on May, 10 2016 @ 06:26 AM
a reply to: Xcathdra

My apologies X, I do promise to contribute to the thread as I promised, last couple days been busy.

Great thread covering a lot by the way

I have looked a bit more into the "faithless elector" situation, and will elaborate a bit more extensively tomorrow, but until then here's a read I suggest to gather a bit more info on it

Pledged by statute to support winning ticket? This is a tricky area: in many states which so require by law [marked "Yes" in the table], the statute specifically states that the Electors shall [or must] cast their ballots to the national ticket which received the most popular votes; in other states, the statute is not so specific- however, the language regarding how the vote of the voter is to be applied to the allocation of Electors implies just such a pledge. When in doubt, this column has been marked "No"- the reason being that these state laws pledging (or implying a pledge of) the Electors to vote for the winning national ticket are of dubious constitutionality (theoretically, the Electors- like U.S. Senators- though representing the State, are Federal officers: the State cannot legally "instruct" Federal officers which, nonetheless, represent it; thus, at least in theory, the Electors are 'free agents' who can cast their ballots for President and Vice President as they see fit- the only check on this being whether or not the Joint Session of Congress which counts and tabulates the Electoral Vote accepts the Elector's votes as valid. Keep in mind, however, that- even re: States where this column reads "No"- there may be political party intradiscipline which will keep an "appointed" Presidential Elector from not voting for the winning ticket!)



In fact, in the 2000 election, Barbara Lett-Simmons, an elector for the District of Columbia, cast a blank ballot for president and vice president in protest of the District’s unfair voting rights.


posted on May, 10 2016 @ 11:04 AM
Thanks for this! I always knew what it was, but never in such depth.

posted on May, 10 2016 @ 03:09 PM
a reply to: Vector99

No worries.. Add what you want when its convenient for you.

posted on May, 12 2016 @ 01:23 AM
Ok so to break down the Faithless Electors category by states that have statutes in place, I will try to interpret many of them simplified into plain english. While several states DO indeed have a "law" in place regarding how they vote, very few of those laws actually make the elector vote non-binding. Most states with these laws in place have not written them correctly unfortunately, and even the ones that did write if correct, still left loopholes.

The majority of states with laws regarding electoral votes are the equivalent of a speeding ticket. The law is there saying the elector MUST vote this way, and if they don't they get punished. The vote however, remains. Some states have written it properly as stating if the elector does not vote correctly their vote will be null and void and they will be replaced. THAT is a good thing, but, they forgot more fine print regarding that. It only requires them to submit an electoral vote for their PARTY, not a specific nominee. What that means, is a pissed off elector could waste an electoral vote by using it for someone other than the party nominated candidate, as long as the vote goes to their party.

The electors themselves usually do not do such things, because they are actually chosen by the parties themselves. Sometimes it happens though. It has never decided an election, and likely never will, but the chance still remains. Lets also keep in mind many of the states with laws regarding electors only require them to "pledge a nomination", well we all know how valid pledges are after this year's election. The BIGGEST issue regarding these statutes and legislation decrees, is their ability to survive a constitutional court challenge. None of the laws regarding the votes have ever been taken to court even though some have gone against the local legislation. They likely would not survive a trip to the supreme court, where they would inevitably end up.

There are also several states with no legislation or laws regarding the electoral votes. Many of these states have a LOT of delegates that could essentially go rogue with no repercussions. I will list them and the amount of delegates they have to give a better idea of the worry of faithless electors

Arizona - 11
Arkansas - 6
Delaware - 3
Georgia - 16
Idaho - 4
Illinois - 20
Indiana - 11
Iowa - 6
Kansas - 6
Kentucky - 8
Louisiana - 8
Minnesota - 10
Missouri - 10
New Hampshire - 4
New Jersey - 14
New York - 29
North Dakota - 3
Pennsylvania - 20
Rhode Island - 4
South Dakota - 3
Tennessee - 11
Texas - 38
Utah - 6
West Virginia - 5

That brings us to a grand total of 256 delegates that can vote any way they want with no regards to anything. They just can flip the bird to the people and say oh well, and per our constitutional set up nothing can be done. Knowing that, it is also important to realize only 270 delegates are needed to win the presidential election.

The electoral college is flawed particularly for this reason. Every delegate vote is placed by a person, chosen not by the public but by the political party. There are a total of 538 delegates in the country in the general national election. It is required that a candidate receive 270 votes to win presidency, if no candidate receives that number, the vote then reverts to the house of representatives. This is also a bad choice.

It leaves room, even though it has not happened, to filibuster an election. If someone were to have enough influence on delegates to sway any of those large delegate states to vote opposite or 3rd party it could and would ensure a house of representatives presidential choice. This has only happened a few times in our country's history, and not ever in recent times.

It needs to be known the flaws of the electoral college, and why it should be done away with.

There are a few states pushing legislation regarding the electoral system to do away with electoral voters, which is a good thing in my opinion. They are pushing legislation that would essentially do away with individual electors to allow all electoral votes to go to the national popular vote winner. This would mean regardless of being a red or blue state, their electors would go to the person who received the national popular vote, which in my opinion is the best method. The founding fathers may have had good intention trying to keep the vote from a populace gone mad, but they never thought of the consequences of an elite sector gone mad.

edit on 12-5-2016 by Vector99 because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 29 2016 @ 09:04 PM
The EU believes it can seriously influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections. Of course this is nonsense as the EU is incapable of doing almost anything except regulating penis lengths by law!

posted on May, 30 2016 @ 06:45 AM
a reply to: Vector99

Interesting counter.. However each states electors only get to vote if their party wins in that state. If an independent wins a state then that candidates independent delegates are the ones who will vote. Since we have had 150+ incidents of faithless electors since our founding I dont see all the electors in the states without laws ignoring the will of the people.

Is it possible? Sure.
Is it likely to occur? Nope.

I say that because I refuse to believe that many electors would have zero loyalty to the Republic. Secondly I doubt the American people would remain quiet and just accept the outcome.

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