Ok, so if you are in love with liberty, I’m sure you’ve heard rumblings and complaints coming from the left about the electoral college and how unfair it was in the Donald Trump presidential election. You may shrug and think, “Maybe it is a problem; but I’m not going to complain. At least Hillary didn’t get elected!” but you really couldn’t explain to a friend anything about the electoral college or why you think it is actually good. I’m here to help with that.
Since I am all about liberty and as James Madison says, “A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people”, I think it’s highly important to help educate you about the electoral college so that next time your liberal friend or co-worker launches into an emotional, and likely uneducated, tirade about the unfairness of the past election, you can calmly and politely state a few of these facts and walk away.
The founders did not want a popularly elected president because they were concerned about giving so much power to an irrational, emotional and uneducated public.
I figure it’s important that you understand why the United States has an electoral college. It is because the American framers had a highly negative view of human nature. Basically, they believed people, at their core, were rotten. Because of this, they were not so keen on giving too much power to the American people. So, they created a hybrid system of electing the president.
You are voting for electors NOT the President during a presidential election.
Yup, it’s the truth. The political parties in each state select potential electors prior to the general election. So, for example: if you live in North Carolina, your state has 13 electoral votes. When you go to the polls to vote, you are actually voting for the electors that you want to send to Washington D.C. in December to vote on your behalf. The Republicans select electors who pledge to vote for their candidate and the Democrats do the same. A bit crazy, right? You are actually voting for 13 people to go to Washington to vote for you!
Each state’s number of electors matches the number of representatives and senators the state has. This means that even the smallest state is guaranteed 3 electoral votes.
Basically, “representatives” means a member of the House of Representatives, and of course, senator just means a senator. Constitutionally, every state is guaranteed two senators no matter how big or small the state, and every state is guaranteed at least one representative for the House. The bigger the state’s population, the more house representatives they will have.
So, I’m going to break this down for you. By law, there must be 1 house representative per 711,000 people; however, if a state doesn’t have 711,000 in the whole state, the state is still required to have at least 1 house member. So, even if a state has 100,000 people, it is still guaranteed to have 1 house member and 2 senators.
Since every state’s electors equal the number of representatives and senators that the state can send to Congress, and the lowest number of representatives a state can have is 3, this means that a state with a population smaller than a district size, is guaranteed to have a minimum of 3 electoral votes. No state is so small that is cannot have any electoral votes, even if the whole state’s population is less than the size of ONE district in another state.
Make sense? So, there are 538 electors (100 Senators + 435 House members + 3 electors for the District of Columbia=538 electors) CHECK OUT THIS LINK FOR THE ELECTORAL MAP FROM THE 2016 ELECTION:
The President is not officially elected until the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. (I know. Don’t ask me why it has to be so complex and odd. That’s government for ya).
So, once we have chosen which electors we want to represent our vote in December (based on the popular vote of the president in the state), the electors go up to Washington on this Monday after a second Wednesday (again, why so complicated?) and actually vote for the candidate they pledged to vote for earlier in the year.
You may be thinking: “Well, can the electors choose not to vote for the candidate they pledged to vote for—and the candidate that the majority of the state voted for?”
Technically, yes! There is nothing in the Constitution that says electors have to vote the way they pledged (the way the state voted). But some states do have fines for electors who don’t vote for the candidate they said they’d vote for—basically, it’s just highly unlikely. Why? Because electors are usually very loyal to the party that selected them and are unlikely to change. Interesting, right? Technically, these 538 people could go up to Washington and select a completely random or different person. Buuut, this wouldn’t likely go over very well with the rest of the government or the American citizenry.
Without the electoral college, just a few major cities would be deciding the President in every election.
Now, think about it. There are a few incredibly populated cities in the United States, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas to name a few. If the President was elected by popular vote, these cities would almost always be the only places that the candidates would care to campaign—or for that matter, cater to once they are president because these cities would be the ones determining every election!
This means that small rural towns, the Midwest, portions of the South or really any part of the country not living in these cities would have little to no say or representation! Seriously, it’s a bit mind boggling to think about, but if the cities had a monopoly on presidential elections, so many various different perspectives wouldn’t have a chance to be heard or represented.
The electoral college is the great equalizer! It may seem weird and complex, but I honestly think that it is ingenious. How else could a country this broad and this diverse be represented at the highest level of government?
Why This Information Is Important
Why is knowing about the electoral college important and why should you be able to respond to all the naysayers out there that complain about the electoral college? I have four words for you:
PEACEFUL TRANSITION OF POWER!
The United States has been blessed with peaceful transition of power for its entire history. What do I mean by this?
To put it bluntly, President Trump and his army didn’t march up to the White House after his election and meet President Obama with his army (keep in mind, armies meeting armies is what happens in most countries, throughout history. Just look at all the beheaded kings in English and French history).
People in the United States respect the electoral process and therefore respect the results of that process. Since the founding of the US, Americans have been taught to respect the method of electing the president. Maintaining this respect is PARAMOUNT to maintaining peaceful transition of power. The powers that be (i.e. the media, politicians) are trying to cast doubt and shake the American public’s respect of the electoral process by questioning the electoral college. If the public considers the electoral process to be illegitimate, then the opposition to the winner of an election can convince the American public that the president himself is illegitimate.
Get this. The founders were actually more concerned about the process of electing the president than they were about the powers of the president himself. Why? Because, if the process was not respected, then there was no hope for the position, or the person holding the position, to be respected.
Do Americans really want the political unrest that other countries experience every time they have an election? Do we really want the unrest that existed after the Trump presidential election to be escalated to new levels because people have completely thrown out all respect for the electoral process and the legitimacy of the person who wins?
PEACEFUL TRANSITION OF POWER
…is what you are fighting for when you respond to a liberal friend who is questioning the process. Arm yourself with the knowledge I have given you and fight for your country!
The Liberty Belle