Institutional Lessons From US Democracy: Electoral College (7)
Today we continue from the previous article. The Electoral College, though criticised even by some Americans of modern-day political thought, is a way by which each of the 50 states in the U.S can have a quota vote in choosing the U.S president. The allocated electoral college votes of a state have remained constant over the years, irrespective of its population growth.
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This original plan designed by America’s founding fathers for electing a president is stated in Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 of the U.S Constitution providing the statutes for the electors voting-in a president.
Those who wrote the constitution had several assumptions and anticipations in play. They idealised that the choice of the president should reflect the “sense of the people” at a particular time, not the dictates of a faction in a pre-established body such as Congress or the State legislatures, and independent of the influence of “foreign powers”.
In the earliest times, the various state legislature-chosen electors are expected to use their discretion to cast their votes for their preferred presidential candidate, but it was noticed that there was intense lobbying for candidates who were not so popular with the people.
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Each chosen elector from the state cast two votes for the president, and whoever received a majority of votes from the electors would become president, while the person receiving the second highest votes becomes the vice president. The choice would be made decisively with a “full and fair expression of the public will” but also maintaining “as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder”.
Years down the line of American democracy, the modus operandi for determining the electoral vote outcome at elections rounds of each state got better refined. It now has combined coordination of the state legislature and the state executive working together to deliver the states electoral college votes to the Congress for counting. In essence, a simple popular vote cannot guarantee victory for presidential elections.
There are 538 electors in the Electoral College and a minimum of 270 of the electoral votes are needed to win the presidential election. The presidential candidate with the most citizens’ votes receives all that state’s electoral votes. Each of the 50 states in the U.S has an allocated portion of the total of 538 electoral college votes.
In modern times, the electors now cast their allocated vote based on the most citizen-voted presidential candidate in their states on December 15 and Congress officially counts the results on January 6 of every presidential election cycle.
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