(FreedomBeacon.com) – With a presidential election just around the corner, there is no better time to educate yourself about the various political systems in place in America. There are many complex structures to ensure each citizen has proper representation in government, as well as to maintain separation of powers.
One such structure is the electoral college. This body has a crucial role in the election of presidents.
How Does the Electoral College Work?
The person with the greatest number of votes from the public does not necessarily win a presidential election. Instead, it is the candidate for whom the greatest number of electoral college delegates vote.
The electoral college forms every four years for the sole purpose of voting in the president and vice-president. There are a given number of electors representing each candidate in each state. There are 538 electors in total, and a candidate needs an absolute majority of 270 to prevail in the election.
Electors are distributed on the basis of state populations. States have the same number of electors as they do Senators and members of the House of Representatives. California has the most electors with 55. Many smaller states (and Washington D.C.) have just three.
In every state except two, all electors back the contender with the most votes in that state. In Maine and Nebraska, some electors must go with the candidate who received the most votes in their congressional district. Therefore, these states can split their vote.
While electors could technically refuse to vote for the candidate they’re supposed to, most states have laws in place to prevent this. Despite this, electors do sometimes break with their vote. In 2016, an unprecedented seven electors picked a candidate who did not receive the most votes in their state. Someone who does this is known as a faithless elector.
Should the System Change?
Many commentators feel the electoral college framework is flawed. Because a candidate can win the presidency despite having fewer votes than someone else, some people feel the electoral college is undemocratic.
Another issue is that most states predominantly support either Democrat or Republican candidates. If you support a Republican candidate in a traditionally “blue” area, you may feel as though your vote is worthless, since your preferred candidate will never win your state.
However, the Founding Fathers made the electoral college for good reasons. Because states have a fixed number of electors, no single area can become too dominant because of its population.
The system also protects rural areas and cultures. If a popular vote system replaced the electoral college, big cities would attract almost all political attention, while less developed states would receive far less.
The electoral college has been the subject of considerable controversy in several election years. However, it isn’t going anywhere as it’s part of the Constitution. Whether or not you agree with the system, the most important action you can take is putting in the effort to vote.
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