Posted by: nativeiowan | December 18, 2012

The US of A’s Electoral System for Dumbasses V1.0

Which indeed must include the entire planet…

I have been researching this and find a fair amount of confusion. I simply do not think anyone really understands the system or why it is even in place.

Historically I note that it was a device the original Congress of the USofA imposed on the election of the President. I fear it to be a manifestation of the various European systems where Parliament or indeed one or both of the houses of Parliament are responsible for appointment of positions such as Prime Minister, President or otherwise.

I also note that the founding fathers of our democratic society did not have enough faith in the electorate to trust them with choosing the President of the United States, all by their lonesome.

To my eye the Electoral College appears to have been a compromise in the late 1700s between Congress and the Senate. Instead of Congress getting to internally elect the President, noting that Congress would not grant such powers solely to the Senate, the Electoral College would do so based on known political alignments of each state plus, on a majority of popular vote takes all.

Don’t sound very democratic does it?

The way it would appear to work is that each state has the same number of Electoral College Delegates as it does Congressmen plus Senators.

The country is divided into 435 congressional districts with a population of about 710,000 each. Each congressional district elects a representative (aka Elector) to the Electoral College.

View districts on a map.

Each state has 2 senators.

The number of Electors in each state is equal to the number of members of Congress to which the state is entitled. The Twenty-third Amendment has always resulted in the District of Columbia having three electors.

Thus we have a total of 538 electors, based on there being 435 representatives and 100 senators, plus the three electors from the District of Columbia.

So far so good.

But, sadly, if you are from Guam or Puerto Rico you don’t really ever get to vote for the President.

The main issue with the state-by-state electoral votes being cast is that WINNER – takes- All… except in a couple of instances.

I won’t dissect the instances where I am still unsure how things work but in the majority of the states the Electoral Votes go for the candidate that won the most popular votes. So if the Democrat candidate gets 1000 votes and the Republican candidate gets 1001 votes… all the electoral votes in that state will go for the republican candidate.

Again, don’t sound real democratic or positively representational, does it?

Of course, all is based on demographics so the largest state, California, has 55 electoral votes while poor, country bumpkin, Iowa only has 5 electoral votes . Thus there is a situation where popular votes may not be in the favour of a candidate that won the Electoral votes by taking the “big” states.

Four presidents have taken office without winning the popular vote. In other words, they did not receive a plurality in terms of the popular vote. They were elected, instead, by the electoral college or in the case of John Quincy Adams by the House of Representatives after a tie in the electoral votes. They were:

  • John Quincy Adams who lost by 44,804 votes to Andrew Jackson in 1824
  • Rutherford B. Hayes who lost by 264,292 votes to Samuel J. Tilden in 1876
  • Benjamin Harrison who lost by 95,713 votes to Grover Cleveland in 1888
  • George W. Bush who lost by 543,816 votes to Al Gore in the 2000 election.

Consider this offering #1 on this topic. I’ll research more and comment when completely confused.

More later


  1. […] This brings the general numeric count into perspective… We see that the popular vote went for Hillary but not the Electoral vote. I have discussed the Electoral Vote in previous posts… […]

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