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How did the Electoral College system come about?

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Presentation on theme: "How did the Electoral College system come about?"— Presentation transcript:

1 How did the Electoral College system come about?
The Framers did not want Congress to select the Pres/VP because it would violate the separation of powers principle. The Framers feared the citizens could not make a wise choice because they would know little about potential leaders…no national news media. Some framers feared that the most popular candidates might not be the best presidents. Some Framers believed that the states should have the power of vote. Wanted to protect the small populated states; otherwise their voices may not be heard!

2 The Constitution says…
Article II, Section 1 “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.” 2

3 What exactly is the Electoral College?
It’s a group of 538 people (electors), who according to the Constitution, are responsible for directly selecting the President and Vice President.

4 If these 538 electors choose the Pres, then what is Election Day about???
Technically, citizens are voting for a slate of electors from their state who have pledged to support the party candidate and their running mate for VP

5 Who are these “electors”?
The electors are chosen by the political parties of each state. The party that wins the popular vote in November will send the slate of electors to their state capital to cast the electoral vote in December. Electors vote two separate ballots for their party based upon the 12th amendment requirements- 1st for the Prez, 2nd for Veep. The vote is counted in a joint session of Congress in the first week of January. The winners take the oath of office on Jan 20th at noon.

6 How many electoral votes does each state get?
Each state gets the same number as seats it has in Congress (i.e.,OH= 18, CA=55, ND=3) D.C. gets 3 votes based upon the 23rd amendment to the Constitution (1961). To win a candidate must receive 270 votes. 48 states and D.C. use the “winner-takes-all” basis in awarding electoral votes. Only ME and NE use a proportional distribution of electoral votes.

7 “Winner-Takes-All System”
The winner-takes-all system can exaggerate the winning margin of the final outcome. In 1960, John F. Kennedy won the popular vote by .3%, but he took the electoral vote by 303 to 219. 7

8 Do electors have to vote for the candidate they were elected to vote for?
Technically, no—but it’s very rare that they don’t. Some states have laws requiring electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote, and threaten fines and jail. In 2004, a single “faithless elector” voted for John Edwards instead of John Kerry for President. 8

9 What if there is a tie? Or no winner?
If no candidate wins a majority of the electoral votes or if the top two candidates are tied, the House of Representatives selects a president. They choose from the three candidates with the most electoral votes. Each state's delegation has a single vote. The Senate selects a vice president by the same process.. 9

10 Major Weaknesses of the Electoral College Process
“winner takes all” system is unfair to those who voted for the losing candidates Candidates devote a disproportionate amount of time and resources to closely contested states (swing states) 3rd party candidates are severely restricted by the “winner-takes-all system

11 Can a candidate win the popular vote and not win the electoral vote?
Yes, and the electoral vote is what counts! It’s happened 4 times, most recently in the 2000 race when Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush won the electoral vote. (Florida had problems with their recount of votes!) It also happened in the election of 1824 (Jackson does not win), 1876(Tilden), and 1888(Cleveland).

12 “But I Won the Popular Vote…”
Four times in our history, the candidate receiving the most popular votes has not won the election Albert Gore Samuel Tilden Andrew Jackson Grover Cleveland 12

13 1824 – Andrew Jackson won the most popular votes in states where popular elections were held.
However, no candidate won a majority of the electoral votes. The House of Reps selected John Quincy Adams as president. 13

14 1876 – Samuel Tilden won the popular vote over Rutherford B. Hayes.
However, 20 contested electoral votes prevented either man from winning a majority of electors. Congress certified all twenty contested votes as having been cast for Hayes. 14

15 1888 – Grover Cleveland won large majorities in several southern states, which raised his popular vote totals but won him few electoral votes. Benjamin Harrison won narrow majorities in most other states, however, and won the electoral vote 233 to 168. 15

16 The election hinged on the vote count in Florida.
2000 – Al Gore won a narrow plurality of the popular vote but ultimately lost the electoral vote to George W. Bush, 271 to 266. The election hinged on the vote count in Florida. 16

17 What happened in Florida in election 2000?
The popular vote had to be recounted because of the close margin of votes. Bush/Cheney = 2,912,790 Gore/Lieberman = 2,912,253 That’s a difference of only 537 votes !!! Nationally the popular votes were: Gore/Lieberman = 50,992,335(48.38%) Bush/Cheney = 50,455,156(47.87%)

18 If Florida had been unable to certify its votes, neither candidate would have reached the 270 electoral vote, and the election would have moved to the House of Representatives. The Supreme Court stepped in, allowing Florida to certify its votes, ending the election. 18

19 Both candidates in 2000 needed Florida’s (25) electoral votes to win…
Electoral vote tally without Florida: Bush = 246 electoral votes Gore = 267 electoral votes With Florida in the electoral vote tally: Bush = 271 electoral votes


21 Effect of the Electoral College
Suppressing 3rd Party Candidates The voting procedure of the Electoral College system has a chilling effect on 3rd party candidates. A 3rd party candidate can have appeal distributed across the nation, but without a plurality in any one of the states will not receive any electoral votes. 21

22 In the 1992 presidential election, independent Ross Perot received 18
In the 1992 presidential election, independent Ross Perot received 18.8% of the popular vote, but zero electoral votes. 22

23 Effect of the Electoral College
Advantage to Small States Because a state’s electoral contingent equals the number of representatives that state has in Congress plus two, electors from small states represent fewer voters than in large states. In other words, an electoral vote from Alaska “weighs” more than an electoral vote from California… 23

24 Effect of the Electoral College
What’s an Elector’s vote worth? 24

25 Why Does the Electoral College Exist?
Several amendment proposals have been put forth to abolish the Electoral College and replace it with direct popular vote for the office of president. What do you think? Should the electoral college be eliminated? What are the arguments in favor of keeping the electoral college? Is it a “democratic” system? 25



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