The Electoral College

What is it? No, it’s not the latest school in the BCS college football playoff picture. Good guess though. The Electoral College is the latest nontroversy from the Left.
Almost immediately after Trump’s stunning Presidential upset in last Tuesday’s election, the Left started complaining about it. It intensified when Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, which is at +650,000 and growing. Former Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis said Democrats need to make getting rid of the Electoral College as a top priority. Bernie Sanders said we need to rethink it.

So what is the Electoral College, how did it come about and why do we still use it? The United States use an indirect election process in which voters elect a body, “electors”, who then pledge to vote for the candidate who wins their state. Since 1880 all states, except Maine and Nebraska, choose electors on a winners take all basis. (Click here to see how Maine and Nebraska select theirs).

During the Constitutional convention, the founders debated numerous ideas on how to elect a President. They rejected having Congress decide because it may lead to bargaining and corruption. They rejected State legislatures from deciding thinking that it would erode Federalism by beholding the President to the States. They also rejected a direct election by popular vote because they feared the large states would dominate the smaller and states would vote for “local sons”, failing to get a majority from one candidate. The founders decided on what we have now: an indirect election through a body of electors.

In Federalist #68, Alexander Hamilton defended the Electoral College by saying..

“THE mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received the slightest mark of approbation from its opponents. The most plausible of these, who has appeared in print, has even deigned to admit that the election of the President is pretty well guarded.1 I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not to affirm, that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent. It unites in an eminent degree all the advantages, the union of which was to be wished for.”

Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution states:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.”

The Constitution was amended in 1803 when the 12th Amendment was passed to address an issue with the Electoral College process. Prior, the electors would cast votes for two candidates. The one with the most was President, the one with the second most was Vice President. This caused an issue in 1800 when Jefferson and Burr tied. It was eventually settled in the House of Representatives after 36 votes. Now, the elector cast one vote for President and one vote for Vice President.

That is how each number of electoral votes for each state is determined. Because of the number of House members, this number is not static. Florida had 14 electoral votes in 1964 but 29 in 2016.

The Electors will meet in their states and vote on December 19th. There is a petition started, by Hillary supporters, asking the Electors to vote for Hillary instead. It has over a million signatures.

Technically, this may be possible. 29 of the 50 states have laws that “bind” their electors to the state’s election results. In those states, going against the results can result in a fine, and maybe stiffer penalties, while 20 states have no such laws.

In reality, Hillary supporters should just face the fact that Trump is the next President. Or crawl into a safe space for the next four years…

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