Every four years, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, Americans go to the polls to elect a President. Many citizens cast their vote and then watch the spectacle of democracy in action as votes are tallied and campaigns either bask in the glory of victory or heal the wounds of defeat.

While supporters fight to raise support across the nation, it can be a stressful time for many. And obviously, the primary focus of the candidate is to reach the magic number of 270 electoral votes. Electoral votes are allocated based on the results of the popular vote in each state. In most states, it is a winner-take-all system. Nebraska and Maine proportionally allocate electoral votes. 270 gives one candidate a majority when 538 electors meet, in each state, to decide who will be President and Vice President.

Voting is a right given to all Americans and one that is often taken for granted. Despite the immense power, only 54.2% of eligible voters decided to cast a ballot during the most recent presidential election. Regardless of party, race, ideology, it is so important to vote and support programs and movements you truly believe in. Right now, mental health is becoming an increasingly important issue for politicians to discuss and act upon. Just now after the Florida High School Massacre, many political figures are beginning to acknowledge the need for more mental health research and programs. In coming elections, more voters than ever will press politicians on this so find the stance you support and cast your vote for that initiative.

Why Have Electoral Votes

During the early years of the Republic, there was a general consensus among the framers of the U.S. Constitution that the President needed to be chosen by members of Congress. This was later changed so that the President would be elected by a group of people who were selected by individual states. The thinking was that these individuals represented the sentiments of a majority of voters in their state.

The Electoral College is a name that designates the group of electors; however, there is no campus and they do not all meet in one place. Each state has their own rules for the selection of electors. Some are selected by state political party leadership while others run for the position within their political party.

Many people believe that an elector is required by law to vote for the candidate of their party. This is incorrect as there have been 167 so-called faithless electors. Some states have penalties that may be used against faithless electors but they cannot be stopped from voting as they see fit.

Are Electors Still Necessary?

Proponents of electoral reform typically point to the fact that five Presidents were elected despite having lost the popular vote. In the most recent election, President Trump had nearly three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton.

Supporters respond by pointing out that Mrs. Clinton had huge vote total margins in traditionally strong Democrat and heavily populated states such as California and New York. Their argument is that without the current system of electors, the most populous states would always decide Presidential elections and smaller states would feel as if they had no voice in national politics.

Both sides make reasonable points but it is worth looking back at the intent of the framers of the Constitution when discussing the pros and cons of the current system. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. This number represents the number of members of the Congressional delegation of each state. The number each state is allocated is therefore dynamic and fluctuates based on population data.

Several states have passed resolutions calling for election reforms that include abolishing the use of electors. Others have passed legislation requiring any elector to vote for whichever candidate received the most votes in the state, regardless of party. While these laws will undoubtedly be tested in the courts, the one certainty is that the process of using electors to choose a President and Vice President will continue to be a hot-button political issue.

Photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash