Hi there, what’s up?
You might have heard already, but Barack Obama has been reelected as president of the United States! It was predicted to be quite a tight race between Obama and Romney, but in the end, Obama came on top.
The US elections is actually a little bit more complicated than you would think. The president is not just elected based on the popular vote; the president of the US is actually elected based on a system called the “Electoral College.” Therefore, the candidate with less votes might actually win the election! Take for instance the 2000 US elections. Former president George W. Bush won only 47.9% of the popular votes while former vice president Al Gore won 48.4% of the popular votes. However, George W. Bush won more electoral votes, and so, he was elected as president. Interesting, huh?
So this is how the Electoral College works:
Each state is given a certain number of electoral votes based on the number of US senators and US representatives it has. As of 2012, there is a total of 538 electors. California currently has the largest number of electors with 55 votes, and Washington State–which is where our college is located–has 12 votes.
So, after everyone votes, the votes will be counted in each state. In nearly all 50 states, all the electoral votes in a certain state are awarded to the candidate who wins the most votes in that state. For instance, in Washington state, most of the people voted for Obama. Hence, all 12 votes from Washington are given to Obama. But maybe in Texas–which has 38 electors–most of the people voted for Mitt Romney. All the 38 votes will then be cast to Romney. In the end, the candidate with the most electoral vote wins.
So, the question I have personally asked a million times is, “Why does the US use the Electoral College system for the elections? Isn’t it slightly unfair?” After doing some research, this is what I have discovered:
When the United States was first founded, the Framers of the Constitution wanted to make sure that the people had a say in choosing the next president. What would come to mind would certainly be the direct popular election; because in this case, the presidential candidate with the most votes would win the election. However, the Framers didn’t really trust this system. When the US was first founded, transportation was very limited and it was very hard to communicate with people across the country. Hence, it might be the case that a candidate is popular in a certain region, but remains unknown in other parts of the country. In this case, the votes would be divided, and the election would not truly show the voice of the country.
Besides the direct popular election, they could also employ election by Congress. This system would require the Congress members from each state to truly assess what their respective states want, and then cast their votes according to the desires of the state. However, this system is not entirely accurate either because in the end, the election might actually better reflect the desires of the Congress members instead of the desires of the people.
In the end, the Framers of the Constitution opted for the Electoral College instead; which is a mix of both.
As you might expect, the Electoral College is certainly a very controversial election system and it still remains a debated topic among Americans. Some people think it’s outdated and that the US should change the election system, but some other still believe that the Electoral College is the best way to conduct the elections. What are your opinions on this? Let us know in the comments below!
I hope this post has been helpful, and I’ll talk to you guys soon!
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