The Electoral College

The Electoral College is a body of electors established by the United States Constitution, constituted every four years for the sole purpose of electing the president and vice president of the United States. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors, and an absolute majority of 270 electoral votes is required to win election. Pursuant to Article II, Section 1, Clause 2, each state legislature determines the manner by which its state’s electors are chosen. Each state’s number of electors is equal to the combined total of the state’s membership in the Senate and House of Representatives; currently there are 100 senators and 435 representatives. Additionally, the Twenty-third Amendment, ratified in 1961, provides that the District of Columbia (D.C.) is entitled to the number of electors it would have if it were a state, but no more than the least populated state (presently 3).U.S. territories are not entitled to any electors as they are not states.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg stated that if he was elected as president of the United States, he would try to heal the divide in the country and reassure Americans about the voting process in part by abolishing the Electoral College. All of the Democratic Candidates agree.

Every presidential election, candidates campaign in a state-by-state race, not only to win the most votes, but also to win their respective electoral votes. The number of electors varies by state: Alabama, for example, has nine; Florida has 29; Massachusetts has 11; Vermont has three. The power to determine the president of the United States is ultimately reserved for the 538 electors, as candidates race to win at least 270 electoral votes in the general election. The Electoral College motivates candidates to visit and campaign in most states across the country – it is believed that this would change if the college were done away with.

Most states award electoral votes on a winner-takes-all basis, meaning that the candidate to win the most votes in a given state will take all of that state’s electoral votes, as well. Nebraska and Maine are the only two states that do not follow the winner-takes-all rule. Electoral votes are instead allocated proportionally.

While Democrats are the most vocal about abolishing the electoral college, some Republicans have also suggested it albeit less vocally and less frequently. President Trump even called for its abolishment in 2012, but changed his mind after winning the election in 2016 (irony?).

In 2020, there could be even fewer battleground states, according to the National Popular Vote. This could pose a problem moving forward as just five or six battleground states hold more power in determining where 2020 campaign efforts are focused.

The truth is that if the Electoral College were done away with, smaller states and more rural states will have less influence in elections that rely only on the popular vote. But these states already have little power under the current system, which relies heavily on winning over a small number of deciding states.

Big states like California, Florida, New York, and Texas would have more power in deciding the president. Basically, the President would be elected by the large cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Atlanta (for example). Because they are politicians first, you would very likely never see the President – ever. Why should he/she? 50% of the country (land, not people) would no longer matter.

However, abolishing the college would require a Constitutional Amendment and this is not likely to happen as 2/3rds of the states would need to ratify it. Therefore, it is not likely to happen. Nonetheless, this is the direction that the Democratic Party is going to continue to push this. At least, until the lose the popular vote.