The US Electoral College
The US Electoral College refers to the institution that comprises of 538 electors who elect the Vice-President and the President of the United States after four years. Basically, the United States’ citizens do not elect the vice president and the president directly. Instead, the designated intermediaries are elected by the voters directly. These designated intermediaries are known as electors. These must have made a pledge to elect or vote for specific vice presidential and presidential candidates and they are themselves elected according to particular laws that each state has.
50 states and the District of Columbia have electors apportioned for them. The electors’ number in every state is the same as the members’ number in Congress that each state has. The District of Columbia is entitled the same electors as the state that is least populous, currently three. This makes the total number of electors 538 which corresponds to the House of Representatives, 435 members, 100 senators and 3 more electors of the District of Columbia.
When was the US Electoral College established?
This college was established by the founding fathers of the U.S in 1787 and it is entrenched in the U.S Constitution. The college was established as a compromise between the President’s election by a Congress vote and President’s election by the popular vote of all qualified citizens. Nevertheless, the Constitution does not feature the words “electoral college”. Instead, the 12th Amendment and Article II use the term “electors”. The electors meet once in their States or District of Columbia and pick who will be the next president. For every election, new electors are selected and they disband after concluding their duties.
Selection of the electors
There are different processes of selecting the electors in different states. Generally, electors are nominated by political parties during the conventions of State party or through the central party’s vote in every state. Every candidate has a unique slate of the potential electors due to the selection process. Usually, electors are chosen with the recognition of dedication and service to their parties. They can be party leaders, state-elected officials, or persons with political or personal affiliation with a Presidential candidate.
During the Election Day, voters in every State cast presidential candidate votes thereby choosing the electors. The names of the electors might or might not be written on the ballot under the name of the Presidential candidate depending on every State’s procedure. In every state, the winning candidate, except in Maine and Nebraska whose electors’ distribution is proportional, is given all State’s electors. In Maine and Nebraska, the winner in the state gets two electors while the congressional district winner gets one elector. The system allows for awarding the electors in Maine and Nebraska to two or more candidates.
How the US Electoral College functions
The electors meet in the capitols of their respective states. Every state determines whether voting will be an open process that can be attended by the public to watch them vote or not. The electors cast votes after which they are sent to the Senate President. They are read before both Congress houses. The Federal election laws and the Constitution do not compel the electors to vote for the candidates of their parties. However, there are 27 states with written laws that require the electors to vote for the candidates of their parties in the event that majority of the popular vote of their state goes to that candidate. Such laws do not apply in 24 states but the common practice is usually voting for the nominee of the elector’s party.
Importance of this college
This institution is important because it determines who become the Vice President and the President of the U.S. The system makes the United States different from the other systems in which the winner is automatically the one who gets the highest vote. The indirect election of the U.S has been criticized by many people and several reform attempts have been made though its proponents maintain that it ensures that smaller states’ rights are safeguarded and it remains a vital piece of the American federalist democracy.
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