Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America

Electoral College

Bizarre is a fair description of both party’s Presidential primary. Each day something occurs that takes the carnival to a new level, and not necessarily a higher level. The media loves both Hillary and Donald. They love Hillary because she’s aligned with their values; they love Donald because he attracts viewers, which pays the bills. It’s my guess that 80% of Americans fear either being President. Hillary lies when the truth would do her good and Donald can’t make it through the day without insulting someone highly respected by all. And every caustic gesture causes each to increase the velocity of their meteoric climb to the eventual nomination by their respective party. And now Michael Bloomberg, the 16 ounce coke clown, is talking about entering the fray as an independent.

Never before have more people tuned in to the primary process. We’ve learned the difference between proportional and winner take all state delegates. And then there are the super-delegates. And it’s the crony culture of the super-delegates that moved me to blog about the Electoral College. It’s my guess that the bizarre nature of this year’s presidential election will continue well into December. Why December? Glad you asked.

The founding fathers established the Electoral College in the Constitution as a compromise between the election of the Presidency by a vote in Congress and election of the Presidency by a popular vote of qualified citizens. It was never intended that the President be determined solely by popular vote. The Electoral College is referred to as ‘electors’ in the 12th Amendment.

Each state is allowed one elector for each seat of Congress—the District of Columbia has three. And just as a semblance of balance is achieved in Congress by each state having the same number of Senators, likewise is the Electoral College; each state gets two electors per Senator, no matter the population. It’s not perfect but the Electoral College serves a sacred purpose. Without the Electoral College, a few cities, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, and Miami would choose our President. But that’s not the bizarre part.

The Electoral College officially meets after the Presidential election and confirms the election results. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win. If nobody receives 270 votes then the House of Representatives chooses the President from the three candidates who received the most electoral votes. And each state’s delegation gets ‘one’ vote. And the VP is chosen by the Senate from the two VPs who got the most electoral votes. Each Senator gets one vote; that’s two votes per state. But that’s not the bizarre part.

The constitution does not require electors to vote according to the popular vote of their respective states. Electors are much like super-delegates; they’re ‘generally’ free to vote as they please. I say generally, because ‘most’ states have passed legislation that requires their electors to cast votes in accordance with the popular vote. So, electors in these states can cast votes as they please, but they may be in violation of a state law. When was the last time you broke a speed limit? That was a violation of a state law. I say most states because several, including some whoppers such as New York and Texas, do not have restrictive legislation. Electors in these states can vote as they please. Historically they vote per the popular vote but this year is different. We’re getting to the bizarre part.

You’re now hearing a little about super-delegates. Super-delegates are determined by each respective party. 30% of the Democratic party delegates are super-delegates and can vote any way they choose at the convention, irrespective of the popular vote in the Primary. Hillary Clinton already has over 50% of the super-delegates pledged to vote for her; Bernie Sanders has nine. The Republicans don’t have super-delegates per-say but about 7% of the delegates are free to vote as they see fit at the convention. It’s not likely the super-delegates will have much say at the Republican convention, but the Democrat convention may turn out to be a traditional riot. Bizarre is starting to peek out.

Keep in mind the bizarre year we’ve had thus far and let’s circle back to the Electoral College. If Bloomberg gets into the race there’s a reasonable chance that he will garner enough electoral votes to cause nobody to get 270. The house would then select the President. Then consider the chance that a few electors will go rouge. Based on happenings year to date, I’d say the decision regarding who will be our next President won’t be known until after the Electoral College meets—December.

When/if that happens it will be beneficial to know how the Electoral College was established and its purpose and process. This is just a snap shot.





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