What role do the American people play in electing their President? What is the Electoral College? And what exactly does a Presidential candidate need to win a US election?
To understand the US elections you must understand the complicated Electoral College system. The Electoral College is consisted of at least three persons, who set on a temporary and statutory institution, which is the main body that elects the President. Officials who sit on the Electoral College are chosen by American voters, who elect officials that would represent their vote for Presidency. However, officials on the Electoral College aren’t necessarily obliged to vote for the candidate they pledged for.
According to Article 2 Clause 2 of the United States Constitution;
“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.”
How is the Electoral College represented?
In the United States there are two senators per each State, and Senate representatives are elected in each State according to a system of proportional representation. No matter how large or small the population of a State is, each US state is granted two senate representatives, putting the total of senators to 100.
However, the US Congress does not allocate a fixed number of representatives per state, rather each state is given one Congress representative per 700,000 people, and accordingly larger states hold more power in Congress, but each state is given at least one representative.
Moreover, the number of representatives in the Electoral College is based off of the number of congressional and senatorial representatives each state is given. Thus, the total number of members or the total votes should be: 100+435=535.
However, there are 538 members in Electoral College; the three extra votes come from the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.). In 1960, to allow the people living in Washington D.C. to have suffrage equal to peopling living in other States (at that time, there were 800 thousand people living in Washington D.C., more than 13 States in the US), Congress passed the Twenty-third Amendment in 1961. The 23rd Amendment allowed “a number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State.” Since the least populous State has three members in the Electoral College, the District of Columbia also has three members.
How does the Electoral College determine the next President?
As the members of the Electoral College cast their vote, it is a requirement that the Presidential candidates must receive a simple majority of electoral votes to win the election; therefore, 270 votes is the bottom line to win a majority. If no presidential candidate receives a simple majority of votes, the Congress will elect a President among the most-voted three. During the election, every State has one vote.
At the present time, the states with the most Electoral College votes are California with 55, Texas with 39, New York with 31, and Florida with 29 votes.
The Seven States that have the least number of Electoral College votes, other than the District of Columbia, include Vermont, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska, which all only have 3 votes.
Consequently, California, Texas, Florida and New York are attached great importance in the US elections due to their large representation of electoral votes. As are both Illinois and Pennsylvania who both have 20 votes.
What’s happening now?
The 2016 Presidential elections will take place on November 8th, and on that day the Electoral College will cast its votes for the Presidential candidates, who at this moment seem to be in a tossup race.
The current Presidential campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has been filled with scandals, rumours and intrigue; however no candidate has the 270 votes needed to win a majority.
Hillary has secured 184 Electoral College votes, while 75 are leaning towards her, putting her number of potential Electoral votes at 259. Trump on the other hand has secured 90 votes, while having 79 leaning towards him, putting his total of potential Electoral votes at 169.
Despite the difference between Hillary’s 259 potential votes and Trump’s 169 potential votes, there are still 110 toss up votes which could be decisive in determining the next President of the United States of America.