The end is just the beginning | How the Electoral College works

By LIZ MOORE, Ranger Reporter:

On Nov. 8, the country will be heading to the polls to vote in the presidential election, but when the polls close, it’s only just the beginning. After the votes are counted, the Electoral College begins their part. They will meet mid-December to cast their votes, before Congress makes the results official in January.

Electors are people who are nominated by each party, and their only job is to help elect the president. When the country votes, they believe they are voting directly for their chosen candidates, but they are actually voting for their state’s electors.

For example, casting a vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton means you are actually casting a vote for the electors that either the Republican or Democratic Parties have chosen. Electors from the party that wins the state’s popular vote will cast their votes at a later date.

An elector can legally break their promise to vote for their party’s candidate. This has happened many times in history; however, these votes have never effected the final result of any election.

Electors are not allowed to hold any other office, and they cast their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December–this year they vote on Dec. 19.

The number of electors per state in the Electoral College is determined by how many members the state has in the House and the Senate. Each state has two senators, and at least one representative, guaranteeing each state at least three votes.

The Electoral College has 538 electors total, with Texas giving 38 of those votes. The winning candidate must win 270 electoral votes, which is the required majority.

On Jan. 6, Congress will meet to count the electoral votes. If it’s a tie, or none of the candidates receive at least 270 electoral votes, the 12th amendment states that the vote goes on to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House will then meet to vote for the President out of the top three candidates, and the Senate will meet to vote for the Vice President out of the top three candidates.

In history, the electoral vote has overturned the popular vote 4 times. The latest was in 2000 when Al Gore and George W. Bush ran against each other. Before that it hadn’t occurred since 1888.

Some people believe that the system is antiquated and needs to be updated. Over the past years, especially after the election of 2000, people have called the system into question. Most people believe that the electoral vote nullifies the popular vote and ignores that it is a government of the people. The problem is that the process of adding an amendment to the constitution, especially to reform another amendment, is a tedious process, requiring it to be ratified with a three-fourths state vote.

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