Everything You Never Knew About the Electoral College

It’s that time of year again. Angry Facebook posts, ludicrous billboard messages and bountiful campaign yard signs all attribute to friends, relatives and coworkers turning against each other. While the election fosters hopefulness in many discouraged Americans, others have abandoned politics altogether. The Electoral College is a misunderstood ensemble that provokes voter apathy among many. A group of anonymous electors with the power to overrule the popular vote sounds a bit unsettling. Before anyone says “my vote doesn’t count,” it doesn’t hurt to learn more about the Constitutional provision. Read, research and realize that every vote counts.

The Electoral College is a body of voters selected to represent their states in each Presidential election. The Constitution outlines the Electoral College in Article ll, Section 1, Clause 3. According to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Senators, Representatives, and Officeholders of “Trust or Profit” are prohibited from being electors. Potential electors include anonymous state elected officials, party leaders, or political affiliates who are obtained based on loyalty or service. Electors then pledge their alliance to the party that they will cast their vote for on Election Day. They then meet on the Monday following the second Wednesday of December to cast their votes. Electors cast their ballots in their state capitals, casting two votes: one for the president and one for the vice president. Once they have voted on Election Day, they combine their votes to send to the nation’s capital.

Despite flaws in the Electoral College, popular votes have more influence than parliamentary systems. In 48 out of 52 elections, the Electoral College has reflected the popular vote. The Electoral College has received a bad reputation since the 2000 election results. George W. Bush. won over the Electoral College with five votes while Albert Gore, Jr. won the popular vote by 0.5% According to the NARA, “The election was plagued with allegations of voter fraud and disenfranchisement. Rumors of illegal road blocks, unclear ballots, and uncounted votes, particularly in swing states like Missouri and Florida, were rampant.” It’s easy to label the system as unjust, yet hard to figure its necessity.

The Electoral College is often misunderstood by the majority but effective in representing the minority. Its significance ensures individual candidates to fight for swing states, big states and regions other than their own. Despite former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s popularity in Southern states, he lost all but one of nine battleground states to current President Barack Obama. Because certain regions consecutively vote blue or red, candidates must reach out to toss-up states filled with voters who are essential in deciding election results.

Many Americans voice their opinion against the Electoral College in that their vote does not matter, when, in actuality, electors are expected to vote for the winner of their state’s popular vote. For example, if Clinton were to win the popular vote in Missouri, all Democratic electors’ votes would represent the state. While there is not a federal law against electors voting against the state’s winning candidate, most states have passed laws and pressed charges against “faithless electors.” Faithless electors are Electoral College voters who vote against their original pledge. Missouri is one of the 20 states that does not have a law against faithless electors.

The United States is a constitutional republic that upholds federal, state and individual powers. Without this system, there would be no Electoral College to serve as a compromise between the government and its people. Though several have attempted to debunk the political system, it’s essential in upholding states’ rights. Potential voters who contribute to their state’s overall vote can impact the Electoral College results and, ultimately, the election.  Election Day is almost here. Debunk the “my vote doesn’t count” phrase by partaking in the 2016 election.

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