Can someone please explain the U.S. electoral college?
As a Canadian and follower of U.S. politics, the college remains a mystery to me. Can someone please explain how it works in terms of overall electoral outcomes? Every American citizen gets to vote directly for the President (or at least I think that is the case). Very different from the system here.
We do not vote directly here for the president. We vote for representatives technically. I live in Florida, so say the State of Florida gets 50 votes (not sure of the current number) which is decided upon by total population. So Florida gets more votes than say a state like Hawaii, which has a much smaller population. So, for instance, when in 2008 Obama won the state of Florida, he received all of Florida's votes. When our country was founded, the state would then choose delegates to go meet and vote as their citizens decided they would. Today they don't really meet and I don't know if delegates are ever even chosen, unless in some ceremonial way. No matter how many people their are in the US, there are only so many "electoral college" votes divided among the 50 states, and it takes at least 270 "electoral college" votes to win the election. Clear as mud? lol
So in a Federal election, the President's name does not appear on the ballot, only the names of the state representatives for each party, is that correct?
No. The candidate's. The representatives to the "electoral college" are not really chosen any more. They used to do that for those people to go to a meeting (college) to relay the votes. Now people know who gets those electoral votes that night.
The candidates' names are on the ballots as a matter of identification. The ballots are not cast directly for those candidates, however, but for Electors. Each State has as many Electors as it has congressmen (senators included). When voting for a president, we actually are voting for those Electors.
All States by law require them to support the candidate with which they are identified, and so when the Electoral College meets on the first Monday following the second Wednesday in December, each group of Electors in their respective State capitals, they theoretically vote for the candidate who won the most votes in their State. Those laws are unenforceable, however, and occasionally one votes for another candidate.
The College was a device by which the US Constitution sought to retain State control of the federal government. It was part of the system of checks and balances set up by the Constitution. Electors are, again in theory, appointed by the State legislature, not elected by the voters. It hasn't worked like that for a long time, like most of that checks and balances system having been effectively destroyed as the central government broke through its Constitutional bounds, but the structure remains.
So the Electors are compelled by law to vote the way the majority of the people have?
There are laws purporting to do that, but since no law can actually compel them to you still find that an isolated one will cast his vote differently when the College meets.
Here is a Hub I wrote about the Electoral College, its operation, and election reform.
http://pattyinglishms.hubpages.com/hub/ … al_College
Patty, your Hub is super. If I understand this correctly, the Presidential candidates' names appear on the ballot that individual voters see. You cast your vote for the person you want as President, and in December the Electors ratify that vote?
Ratify in December is the rule, but I wonder how many Electors vote for their own preference rather than the Peoples'?
Is there no way to find out how the Electors voted?
That I do not know for sure, but I sense that their votes must be of public record. I recall some reports of a few Electors voting their own minds in the last two or three Presidential Elections. I must pay more attention in 2012.
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