The Electoral College. What is it?, how does it work?, the pros, and the cons

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1 The Electoral College What is it?, how does it work?, the pros, and the cons

2 What is the Electoral College? n E lec tor al College- A body of electors chosen to elect the President and Vice President of the United States (these are actual people!). n As people vote in a presidential election they do not cast a vote directly for one of the contenders for the presidency. n Instead, they vote to elect presidential electors.

3 What is the Electoral College? n The Constitution provides for the election of the President by the electoral college in which each state has as many electors as it has members of Congress n Number of Senators (2) + Number of Representatives (depending on population) n Ex. Michigan- 2 Senators + 15 Representatives = 17 electors

4 Electoral College

5 What is the Electoral College? n The Framers expected electors to use their own judgment in selecting a President. n Today, electors are expected to vote automatically for their parties candidates for President and Vice President.

6 How do we choose electors? n The electors are chosen by popular vote in every State. n They are all chosen on the same day: The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every 4 years.

7 How do we chose electors? n Voting ballots usually have just the names of the Presidential candidates listed. We do not see the names of actual electors! n Actually when people vote, they vote to elect presidential electors.

8 Counting Electoral Votes n The Constitution provides the date Congress sets for the electors to meet- n Shall be the same throughout the United States. n The electors shall meet in their respective states in the State capital. n Monday after the second Wednesday in December.

9 Counting Electoral Votes n They each cast their vote for Presidential candidate. n The ballots are signed and sealed and sent to Washington D.C. n The votes are opened by the President of the Senate (Vice President) and counted by Congress. n The candidates that receive the majority of votes becomes President.

10 Counting Electoral Votes n What happens if no candidate has received a majority (270 votes out of 538)? The House of Representatives chooses a president among the top three candidates. n Ex. (Election of 1800 and 1824) n Each state gets 1 vote for president

11 And if that does not work. n The Senate decides between the top two candidates. n Ex had to choose a vice president

12 Electors in each state n There are currently 538 electoral votes in the United States n 100 Senators Representatives + 3 votes for D.C = 538 electoral votes n Therefore, a candidate must receive 270 votes to win. n If a tie occurs 269/269 the election is given to the House of Representatives

13 Quiz Time!!! n If Michigan has 17 electoral college votes n How many Senators does Michigan have? n How many Representatives does Michigan have? n What about for California, 55 electoral votes, how many Senators and Representatives?

14 History of Electoral College n Why did our founders design the electoral college? n Many different theories n Protect small states. n Wanted electors to come to a decision to nominate a selection of good candidates. n Compromise between states and Congress.

15 The Pros of the Electoral College n The system protects rural communities and smaller states from the interests of urban centers and large states. n Without electoral college it would be possible to win a majority of votes by campaigning only in a few densely populated areas.

16 Pros continued n Easier Recounts n Makes doing a recount much easier (ex election) n Since you may only need to recount a single state instead of an entire nation.

17 Pros continued n Less incentive for election fraud n If a fraud votes occurs it will only affect the that state s limited number of elector votes instead of effect the population nationwide.

18 Problems with the Electoral College n The possibility that the winner of the popular vote will not win the presidency. n n n n Jackson and John Quincy Adams Hayes and Tilden Cleveland and Harrison Bush and Gore n Gore- 50,996,039 popular votes, 540,098 more than Bush. Bush won 271 electoral votes, one more than needed to win the majority.

19 More Problems n Electors are not required to vote in accordance with the popular vote. n Electors are expected to vote for the candidate who carries their States n Nine cases in which an elector has broken their pledge n Most recently, in 2000 n One elector from D.C refused to cast a vote for President. She was protesting the fact that D.C. is not represented in Congress. Her vote could have gone to Al Gore, and changed the outcome.

20 More Problems n The election could potentially have to be decided in the House of Representatives n A strong third party candidate has threatened to make it impossible for either major party to win a majority in the electoral college remember the spoiler effect??

21 More Problems n Problems with the House deciding n n n The voting is by States, not by individual members. A state such as Alaska would have as much weight as a populous State (California). If the representatives from a State were divided that no candidate was favored the State would lose its vote. Constitution requires a majority, with a strong third party candidate, there is a possibility that the House could not make a decision.

22 Proposed Reforms n Since 1789, constitutional amendments to change the process have been introduced. n Most of them fall under: n District Plan n Proportional Plan n Direct Popular Election

23 Proposed Reform-The District Plan n Electors would be chosen in the same way as members of Congress. n District plan would do away with the winner take all problem, because electors would vote like their district. n It would make the electoral vote a more accurate reflection of the popular returns.

24 Proposed Reform- The Proportional Plan n Each presidential candidate would receive the same share of a State s electoral vote as he or she received in the State s popular vote. n If a candidate won 40 % of votes cast in a State with 20 electoral votes, he or she would get 8 electoral votes. n This would align the electoral votes more with the popular vote.

25 Proposed Reform- Direct Popular Election n The most popular reform is to do away with the electoral college system and allow direct popular election. n Each vote would count equally in the national result. n The winner would always be the majority

26 The End And that is the electoral college!!!!

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