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Electoral College

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Electoral College

Kelly E. Cooper

Grantham University

The Electoral College consists of a total of 538 electors with a majority of 270 electoral votes being required to be elected for President of the United States.  Each state is allotted a number of electoral voters based on the number of members it has representing the State in the US Congress.  Each State is allotted one elector per each member of the House of Representatives and two electors for each US Senator.  In Virginia we have a total of 13 electoral votes, 4 total for our 2 US Senators and 9 total for our 9 members of the House of Representatives.  

In the 2012 presidential election, Virginia’s 13 electoral votes were cast for Barack Obama.  In this election Obama took the popular vote securing 1,971,820 votes against Mitt Romney’s final tally of 1,822,522.

If you ask any US voter today about the Electoral College you will get many varied opinions on the “pros and cons”.  Some of the pros center on the Electoral College providing a framework for candidates to organize a true campaign that is taken out on the road to the people.  Without this some feel the candidates would only focus on the most populated states leaving those smaller states without a voice altogether.  Another pro considered by many is the fact that this system promotes the two party system and discourages 3rd parties from running for President (this is also considered a con).  The Electoral College setup basically eliminates the possibility for a national recount of votes which is definitely seen as a positive in today’s society where everything likes to be challenged.  One additional reason for continuing with the Electoral College would be the fact that small states feel they are viable participants in the nationwide election.  

For the list of potential “Cons” once must consider the main reason people today are against the Electoral College and that is because the system is viewed as complicated and hard to understand by many.  Some feel it is just downright undemocratic and others question the possibility of fraud among electors (do they really vote for who they want to and go against what the state popular vote says?).  There is the argument by many that the Electoral College provides undue power to the chosen “swing states” making smaller state voters feel as though they don’t really matter.  Two final cons are the candidate that loses the popular vote could potentially win an election and this system makes it very difficult if not next to impossible to have a 3rd party in a national election.

We have the Electoral College because our founding fathers wrote this into the constitution as a compromise for the election of the President of the US. The compromise was between a vote in Congress for President and an election of the popular vote.  The constitution does not refer to the electoral college just to “electors” however since this process is part of the original design of the Constitution it will require the passing of an amendment to the Constitution to change the current Electoral College system.  

Another argument is the fact that more than 40 states are basically written off each president election year by not getting much campaign coverage, visits by candidates or TV advertisements because they are predetermined to have sided with one party or the other historically.  Three of these are the most populous states, California, Texas and New York) all of which make up for more than 25% of the US population yet California and  New York are always passed up by the Republican candidate as is Texas by the Democratic candidate.  

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