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How Does the Electoral College Work?

Does the electoral college protect small states, or make the whole process undemocratic?

By:  |  August 27, 2019  |    449 Words

The electoral college has been the subject of debate since it was first created. With elections coming in 2020, people are arguing about it once again.

What Is the Electoral College?

So what is the electoral college, and why do we need it?

Every four years, the United States has an election to pick a new president. While people do vote in a general election, the president is picked by a group called the electoral college. There are 538 people – called electors – in the electoral college. That’s one for every Representative and Senator in each state. A presidential candidate needs at least 270 of those electoral votes to win.

How Does It Work?

Each party has its own set of electors. States have different rules on how the electors are appointed. When you vote for president, you are picking electors who will vote for your candidate later.

Most states have a “winner-take-all” system. This means the presidential candidate who gets the most votes in a general election will be awarded all the state’s electoral votes. But some, like Nebraska and Maine, have a “proportional representation” system, in which they award electors based on the number of votes each candidate gets.

Case for the Electoral College

The founders created the electoral college to give each state a voice in choosing who leads the federal government. For example, if the US chose a president by just the popular vote – that’s when the people vote in the general election – the whole nation’s leadership would be decided by only a few states. States with smaller populations, like Iowa and Wyoming, for example, would be subject to the choices of a few more populated states, like New York and California.

Case Against the Electoral College

On the other hand, people have argued for ending the electoral college. With just a national popular vote, the winner of the election would be whoever gets more people to vote for them.

Those who favor a national popular vote process say that it would make for a fairer and more democratic method of deciding who wins the Oval Office. They believe that it would represent the true will of the American voters.

You Decide

Elections are an important part of the governance of a republic like the United States. It is essential that citizens have a fair system that allows them to choose their leaders. The electoral college is a foundational system in the country’s history, but is it what’s best for the American people? While American disagree on whether we need the electoral college, it is important that the country has some system that truly represents the will of the people.

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