By Helen Duan
What are electoral colleges, and why do we need them? Electoral colleges are a group of people who cast each state’s official votes for the next U.S. president and vice president. They play a vital role in a presidential process.
Before we talk about electoral colleges, we need to explain the very first phase of an election, which is called the popular vote. A popular vote is the total number votes received in the first phase. However, the popular vote does not determine the winner. Instead, the presidential elections use the electoral college to determine our next president and vice president.
The electoral college is a group of people who cast each state’s official votes for the next U.S. president and vice president. The electoral college is made up in the same way that citizens are represented in Congress. Of the 538 electors that make up Congress, 434 are representatives, 100 are senators, and 3 electors are from the District of Columbia. Each party - Republican and Democrat - selects their own group of electors. Each state receives a particular number of electors based on their population size.
“When Americans vote for our president, what they are actually voting for is who their state will vote for!” states Vox in The Electoral College, Explained. Whichever president gets the most votes of a state gets all of its electoral votes, known as the winner-takes-all voting method. The Republicans and Democrats try to win California, Texas, and Florida’s electoral votes because they have the most electoral votes. However, they must not ignore the smaller states because every electoral vote counts, especially in the swing states.
The two final candidates, usually a Republican and Democrat, need to surpass 270 electoral votes. The candidate that surpasses 270 votes will be the next U.S president. But, what if no one reaches 270 electoral votes and it is a tie? In that case, the House of Representatives chooses our president, and the Senate chooses our vice president. This has only happened once in the 1800 presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.
Today, there is still much debate about the electoral college. While some people support the system, others argue that the electoral college is flawed because sometimes the electoral college does truly not reflect the popular vote, meaning that it does not do what it is supposed to do. For example, in the 2016 election between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, Clinton won the popular vote by 2.87 million votes, but Trump won the electoral college by 74 electoral college votes. Similarly, in the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, Gore won the popular vote by 547,398 votes, but Bush won the electoral college by 5 electoral votes. Even dating back to the 1888 election between Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland, Cleveland won the popular vote by 90,596 votes, but Harrison won the electoral college by 65 electoral votes. So, the questions remain: should we get rid of the electoral college, or how can we fix it to make it better?
In conclusion, the electoral college plays an important role in the U.S. presidential process. The electoral college is the way a selected group of people cast each state’s official votes for the next U.S. president and vice president. Presidential candidates need to reach 270 electoral votes in order to win the election. For the 2020 presidential election, the electoral college will be voting on Monday, December 14th, 2020, and the winner of this presidential election will be determined. So, stay tuned! Lastly, though the process is not always perfect in reflecting the popular vote, there are ways to improve the electoral college for future elections.
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