Electoral College


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  • The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

    The bill is currently endorsed by over 1,707 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska – 70%, DC – 76%, Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, Minnesota – 75%, New York -- 79%, Washington -- 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 29 state legislative chambers, in 19 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes -- 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com
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Electoral College

  1. 2. Historical Background <ul><li>The framers of the Constitution disagreed on how to elect a president—congressional selection or direct popular election. </li></ul><ul><li>The electoral college was a compromise, combining features of both approaches. </li></ul>
  2. 3. State Electoral Votes <ul><li>Each state is entitled to as many electoral votes as the sum of its representation in the U.S. House and Senate </li></ul><ul><li>Texas: 32 House members plus 2 senators = 34 electoral votes </li></ul><ul><li>Arkansas: 4 House members plus 2 senators = 6 electoral votes </li></ul><ul><li>Total: 435 House members plus 100 senators plus 3 electors for the District of Columbia = 538 electoral votes </li></ul>
  3. 4. Selection of Electors <ul><li>Each state determines the manner of selection </li></ul><ul><li>All but two states use a winner-take-all statewide election system </li></ul><ul><li>If Candidate A gets the most votes in a state, Candidate A gets the whole slate of electors. </li></ul><ul><li>Maine and Nebraska award electors based on the statewide vote and the vote in each of the state’s congressional districts. </li></ul>
  4. 5. The Real Election <ul><li>In December, the electors gather in their respective state capitols to cast ballots for president and vice president. </li></ul><ul><li>In January, Congress convenes, opens the ballots received from each state, and announces the official outcome. </li></ul>
  5. 6. What if no one receives a majority? <ul><li>To win, a candidate needs a majority, that is, 270 electoral votes. </li></ul><ul><li>If no candidate has a majority, the House selects the president from among the three presidential candidates with the most electoral votes. </li></ul><ul><li>Each state delegation has one vote. </li></ul><ul><li>This last happened in 1824 when Congress chose John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson and William Crawford. </li></ul><ul><li>The Senate selects the vice president from the top two vice-presidential candidates. </li></ul>
  6. 7. Popular Vote vs. the Electoral Vote <ul><li>In a close race, the popular vote winner may not win the electoral college. </li></ul><ul><li>One candidate may win states by lopsided margins while the other wins states by narrow margins. </li></ul><ul><li>Electoral vote winners who lost the popular vote </li></ul><ul><li>Bush over Gore in 2000 </li></ul><ul><li>Benjamin Harrison over Grover Cleveland in 1888 </li></ul><ul><li>Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel Tilden in 1876 </li></ul>
  7. 8. The 2000 Election <ul><li>The Popular Vote </li></ul><ul><li>Al Gore 50,996,039 </li></ul><ul><li>George W. Bush 50,456,141 </li></ul><ul><li>The Electoral Vote </li></ul><ul><li>George W. Bush 271 </li></ul><ul><li>Al Gore 267 </li></ul>
  8. 9. Criticisms of the Electoral College <ul><li>The popular vote winner may lose the presidency. </li></ul><ul><li>Electors may vote for persons other than their party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates. </li></ul><ul><li>If no candidate receives a majority, Congress will pick the president and vice president. </li></ul>
  9. 10. Review Question <ul><li>North Carolina has 13 U.S. representatives. How many electoral votes does the state have? </li></ul>
  10. 11. Answer <ul><li>North Carolina has 15 electoral votes. The formula is the number of U.S. senators, which is two for each state, plus the number of U.S. representatives. Two plus 13 equals 15. </li></ul>
  11. 12. Review Question <ul><li>Does it matter whether a candidate carries a state by a few votes or a lot of votes? </li></ul>
  12. 13. Answer <ul><li>No. A candidate receives all of a state’s electoral votes whether the candidate carries the state by one vote or a million votes. In every state except Nebraska and Maine, the race is winner take all. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Discussion Question <ul><li>How does the electoral college impact candidate strategy in presidential election campaigns? </li></ul>
  14. 15. Discussion Question <ul><li>Do you favor or oppose replacing the electoral college with a different system for selecting a president? If you support reform, what sort of system would you prefer? </li></ul>