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Encyclopedia > U.S. Electoral College

The United States Electoral College is the electoral college that chooses the President and Vice President of the United States at the conclusion of each Presidential election. The Electoral College was established by Article Two, Section One of the U.S. Constitution and meets every four years with electors from each state. The electoral process was modified in 1804 with the ratification of the 12th Amendment and again in 1961 with the ratification of the 23rd Amendment. An electoral college is a set of electors who are empowered as a deliberative body to elect someone to a particular office. ... The President of the United States (fully, President of the United States of America; unofficially abbreviated POTUS) is the head of state of the United States and the chief executive of the federal government. ... The Vice President of the United States is the second-highest executive official of the United States government, the person who, in the words of Adlai Stevenson, is a heartbeat from the presidency. ... Article Two of the United States Constitution creates the executive branch of the government, comprising the President and other executive officers. ... The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. ... A U.S. state is any one of the fifty states (four of which officially favor the term commonwealth) which, with the District of Columbia, forms the United States of America. ... The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution altered Article II pertaining to presidential elections. ... Amendment XXIII (the Twenty-third Amendment) of the United States Constitution permits the District of Columbia to choose Electors for President and Vice President. ...


For a historic overview of the U.S. Electoral College election maps, see U.S. presidential election maps. In the United States, the president is elected through the an electoral college system. ...

Distribution of electoral votes for 2004, 2008 elections.
Distribution of electoral votes for 2004, 2008 elections.

Contents

Image File history File links Electoral_map. ... Image File history File links Electoral_map. ... Presidential election results map. ... Presidential electoral votes by state The U.S. presidential election of 2008 is scheduled to occur on November 4, 2008. ...


How it works

Election for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States is indirect, for which voting takes place every four years on Election Day. Although ballots typically list the names of the presidential candidates, voters within the 50 states and the District of Columbia actually choose electors when they vote for President and Vice President. These presidential electors in turn cast the official votes for those two offices. Election Day in the United States is the day when polls most often open for the election of elected public officials. ... ...


In most states and in the District of Columbia, the plurality winner of the popular vote for President within that state receives all of the state's electors, while all other candidates receive none. Only in Maine and Nebraska does the election follow a model more closely based on Congressional Elections: For each congressional district in those two states, the plurality winner of that district receives one district elector ("Representative-like" elector, so to speak), while the two at-large electors ("Senator-like" electors) are given to the plurality winner of the whole state. This method has been used in Maine since 1972 and Nebraska since 1996, though neither has ever split its electoral votes. Official language(s) None Capital Augusta Largest city Portland Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 39th 86,542 km² 305 km 515 km 13. ... Official language(s) English Capital Lincoln Largest city Omaha Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 16th 200,520 km² 340 km 690 km 0. ... 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year that started on a Saturday. ... 1996 (MCMXCVI) is a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ...


Each state's electors meet in their respective state capitals in December, 41 days following the election, at which time they cast their electoral votes. Thus the Electoral College never meets as one body. The electoral votes are then sealed and sent to the President of the Senate (i.e. the sitting Vice President of the United States), who retains them until the new Congress convenes in January. At that time, the votes are opened and counted in the presence of both houses of Congress. The candidate who receives a majority of electoral votes for President becomes President, and the candidate who receives a majority of electoral votes for Vice President becomes Vice President.


If no candidate for President receives an absolute electoral majority, then the new House of Representatives is required to go into session immediately to vote for President. In this case, the House of Representatives chooses from the three candidates who received the most electoral votes. The House votes en-bloc by state for this purpose (that is, one vote per state, which is determined by the majority decision of the delegation from that state; if a state delegation is evenly split that state is considered as abstaining). This vote would be repeated if necessary until one candidate receives the votes of more than half the state delegations—at least 26 state votes, given the current number, 50, of states in the union. The chamber of the United States House of Representatives is located in the south wing of the Capitol building, in Washington, D.C.. The United States House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the Congress of the United States. ...


If no candidate for Vice President receives an absolute majority of electoral votes, then the United States Senate must do the same, with the top two vote getters for that office as candidates. The Senate votes in the normal manner in this case, not by States. It is unclear if the sitting Vice President would be entitled to cast his usual tie-breaking vote if the Senate should be evenly split on the matter. Seal of the Senate The United States Senate is one of the two chambers of the Congress of the United States, the other being the House of Representatives. ...


If the House of Representatives has not chosen a winner in time for the inauguration (noon on January 20), then the Constitution of the United States specifies that the new Vice President becomes Acting President until the House selects a President. If the winner of the Vice Presidential election is not known by then either, then under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the Speaker of the House of Representatives would become Acting President until the House selects a President or the Senate selects a Vice President. January 20 is the 20th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (codified as Title 3, Chapter 1, Section 19 of the United States Code) establishes the order of succession to the office of President of the United States in the event neither a President nor Vice President is able to discharge the powers and duties... Dennis Hastert, the current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. ...


It is unclear what would happen if a President has been selected but the Senate remains deadlocked on a Vice President past Inauguration Day. On the one hand, the Twelfth Amendment specifies that the Senate should choose the Vice President, and it does not admit of a time limit on the selection process. On the other hand, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment allows the President to nominate a Vice President if a vacancy should occur. The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution altered Article II pertaining to presidential elections. ... Wikisource has original text related to this article: Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution Amendment XXV (the Twenty-fifth Amendment) of the United States Constitution clarifies an ambiguous provision of the Constitution regarding succession to the Presidency, and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office...


As of 2005, the House of Representatives has elected the President on two occasions, in 1801 and in 1825. The Senate has chosen the Vice President once, in 1837. 2005 is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ...


Alloting electors to the states

The number of electors assigned to each state is equal to the total number of Senators (two) and Representatives that the state has in Congress (at least one; thus, no state has fewer than three electors). No federal officer or employee, including Senators and Representatives, may serve as an elector, though electors may be elected state officials, party leaders, or persons who have a personal or political affiliation with a Presidential candidate. With the adoption of the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1961, the District of Columbia is treated as a state for purposes of electoral votes, but can in no event choose more electors than the least populous state (however that latter clause does not currently make any difference; even if it did not exist, there would not be enough population in the District by a wide margin to give it any more than the minimum three electors). 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ...


There are currently 538 electoral votes available in each presidential election (100 Senators + 435 Representatives + 3 votes for D.C. = 538 electoral votes). Therefore, candidates must receive a majority of 270 electoral votes to become President and Vice President. In theory even in a pure two-party race, a candidate could win the election by receiving only 23% of all popular votes, if these were distributed in an ideal way (for him/her)—i.e. if they won enough small states by the narrowest possible margin and got no votes at all in the larger states. The fact that there is an even number of electoral votes available since the passing of the 23rd Amendment makes a 269/269 tie conceivable, although none has occurred yet. In that case the election would be thrown into the House of Representatives even though only two candidates received any electoral votes.


In most states, the names of the electors do not appear on the ballot at all; instead, a notation on the ballot indicates that voters are selecting the "electors for" followed by the names of the candidates for President and for Vice President. All but two states (Maine and Nebraska) use a winner-take-all system. The candidate with a plurality of votes gains all of the state's electors. The two exceptions allot the electors within the state (though, in every election since the states chose the allotment method, the winning candidate has always managed to gain all the electors). In many states, the electors are legally free to cast their votes for anyone they choose, although in some states to vote for someone other than their pledged candidate is a misdemeanor, in others a felony, and in a few it is merely illegal without penalty. A plurality (or relative majority) is the largest share of something, which may or may not be a majority. ... A misdemeanors (or misdemeanour), in many common law legal systems, is a lesser criminal act. ... A felony, in many common law legal systems, is the term for a very serious crime; misdemeanors are considered to be less serious. ...


In practice, however, electors very rarely vote for a candidate they are not pledged to (as they are chosen by the political parties specifically for voting for that candidate), except as a form of protest vote. Individuals choosing to do this are often referred to as "faithless electors" about which, more below. It is uncommon to know in advance that an elector may be inclined to vote in such a fashion, and such deviations usually come as a surprise. Of course, if an Electoral College tie were looming on the horizon after Election Day, more electors might see a reason to switch sides, simply to avoid the election being thrown into the House of Representatives.


History

Scholars continue to debate the reasons for the adoption of the Electoral College. Some believe it was created to protect small states. Others believe that the Founding Fathers intended to create a system of indirect election whereby the electors would come to a carefully considered decision to nominate a selection of good candidates and then the House of Representatives would again make a careful consideration of the names presented. Others still believe the system of electing the President was given little thought beyond a desire to have George Washington as the first President, pointing in particular to the extremely casual way in which the Vice President was selected, and that Congress was intended to be the most important part of the Federal government. sex sex ex they have hard buttsexFounding Fathers of the United States, also known to some Americans as the Fathers of Our Country, the Forefathers, Framers or the Founders are the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution or otherwise participated in the American Revolution as leaders... The chamber of the United States House of Representatives is located in the south wing of the Capitol building, in Washington, D.C.. The United States House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the Congress of the United States. ... George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was the successful Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), and later became the first President of the United States, an office to which he was elected twice (1789-1797). ...


Still others hold that it was devised as a compromise between the election of a President by the states and by the Congress. Initially the electors were selected by the state legislatures, and it was not until later that states started holding a popular poll for the presidential elections to determine how they would cast their votes. Yet another theory contends that the Framers strongly opposed the development of political parties, as evidenced by the total absence of any reference to parties in the Constitution, and were aware of the difficulties in mass communication, and were attempting to devise a system that would function well with neither cheap, instantaneous, nationwide communication nor a strong political party system. A political party is an organization that seeks to attain political power within a government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns. ...


The Electoral College may have been implemented to negotiate compromises in cases of a split vote where each state was pushing its own native son. The U.S. presidential primary and the emergence of a two-party system has largely rendered this historical. One lasting theory is that the Electoral College helps soften the effect of votes from densely populated centers (major U.S. cities and the District of Columbia) which may steer away from the concerns of the rest of the country. Others have noted that the Electoral College enabled the Founding Fathers to deftly incorporate the Connecticut Compromise and three-fifths compromise into the system of choosing the President and Vice President, thereby sparing the convention further acrimony over the issue of state representation. The series of U.S. presidential primaries is one of the first steps in the process of electing a President of the United States. ... A two-party system is a type of party system where only two political parties have a realistic chance of winning an election. ... The Connecticut Compromise of 1787 in the United States, later known as the Great Compromise, was struck in the creation of legislative bodies. ... The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise between Southern and Northern states reached during the 1787 United States Constitutional Convention in which only three-fifths of the population of slaves would be counted for enumeration purposes regarding both the distribution of taxes and the apportionment of the members of the...


Regardless of why the system was chosen, the term "Electoral College" is not used in the U.S. Constitution, and it wasn't until the early 1800s that it came into general usage as the unofficial designation for the group of citizens selected to cast votes for President and Vice President. It was first written into Federal law in 1845, and today the term appears in 3 U.S.C. section 4, in the section heading and in the text as "college of electors." The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. ... Events and Trends Beginning of the Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815). ... 1845 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ...


Section 1, Article II of the Constitution says, "Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector." It then goes on to describe how the electors vote for President.


Originally, each elector voted for two persons, with no designation for President or Vice President. The person receiving the greatest number of votes (provided that such a number was a majority of electors) would be President, while the individual who was in second place became Vice President (and did not need the backing of the majority of electors; in theory the Vice President could have been elected with the support of as few as two electors if every other elector either cast the sole vote for a candidate, voted for a virtually unanimous choice for President or did not cast their second vote). If no one had received a majority of votes, then the House of Representatives would choose between the five highest vote-getters, with each state casting one vote. In such a case, the person who received the highest number of votes but was not chosen President would become Vice President. If there was ever a tie for second, then the Senate would choose the Vice President.

Tally of electoral votes for the 1800 Presidential election, dated February 11, 1801.
Tally of electoral votes for the 1800 Presidential election, dated February 11, 1801.

The original plan, while working extremely well in the absence of political parties and organized presidential campaigns, broke down almost immediately once they developed. In 1796, for instance, rumors of conspiracies led to some Federalist electors only using one of their two votes so that their Presidential candidate John Adams came in first, but the Democrat-Republican candidate for President Thomas Jefferson placed second. Thus, the President and Vice President were from different parties. Although a situation like that is arguably not a problem, the situation that occurred in 1800 was most certainly a problem: Republicans (that is, the 18th- and early 19th-century party, later known as Democratic Republicans, that eventually became the modern Democratic party) Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied the vote. Jefferson was the intended presidential contender, while Burr was the Vice Presidential one. However, electors did not differentiate between the two, nor could they under the system of the time, and all electors supporting them cast one vote for each. The electors for the Federalists, however, arranged it so that one elector voted for the Federalist presidential candidate but not for the Vice Presidential candidate. They voted instead for another person altogether. The election was thrown into the House of Representatives, which was controlled by the Federalists. The House voted 35 times, with Alexander Hamilton offering his support to Thomas Jefferson with the condition that Jefferson support certain Federalist policies and office-holders. Jefferson won on the thirty-sixth ballot after Delaware's only Representative, James Bayard—a Burr supporter—abstained in exchange for the terms Hamilton had originally offered. Burr became Vice President. For this, and numerous other reasons, Burr held a grudge against Hamilton, whom he later killed in a duel. From the National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the U.S. Senate [1] This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... From the National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the U.S. Senate [1] This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was the first (1789–1797) Vice President of the United States, and the second (1797–1801) President of the United States. ... Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 N.S. – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), author of the United States Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founders of the United States. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... The Democratic Party is one of the two major political parties in the United States. ... Vice President Aaron Burr Alternate meaning: Rev. ... A portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull, 1792. ... James A. Bayard may refer to James A. Bayard, Sr. ...

Tally of electoral votes in the 1824 Presidential election, showing the number of votes received by the four candidates: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford, and Henry Clay, dated February 9, 1825.
Tally of electoral votes in the 1824 Presidential election, showing the number of votes received by the four candidates: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford, and Henry Clay, dated February 9, 1825.

To address the problem of the 1800 election, the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed. It made some minor and major changes to the Constitution. First, electors would no longer cast two ballots for President. Instead, they would cast one vote for President and a separate vote for Vice President. The individual receiving a majority of votes in a particular election would be elected. If no one received a majority in the presidential election, then the House of Representatives would choose between the top three, again voting by state. Similarly, the Senate chooses between the top two in the case of the Vice President. Under the new rules, the House of Representatives did elect the President on one more occasion: the 1824 four-way race between Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford, and Henry Clay resulted in no candidate receiving an absolute majority of electoral votes. The House elected Adams on the first ballot, even though Jackson received the most electoral and popular votes. Download high resolution version (700x1138, 109 KB) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Download high resolution version (700x1138, 109 KB) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845), was the seventh President of the United States (1829-1837), hero of the Battle of New Orleans (1815), a founder of the Democratic Party, and the eponym of the era of Jacksonian democracy. ... John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767–February 23, 1848) was an American lawyer, diplomat, and politician. ... Portrait of U.S. politician William H. Crawford William Harris Crawford (February 24, 1772 – September 15, 1834) was an important American politician during the early 19th century. ... Henry Clay Henry Clay (April 12, 1777 in Hanover County, Virginia – June 29, 1852 in Washington, D.C.) was an American statesman and orator who served in both the House of Representatives and Senate. ... February 9 is the 40th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution altered Article II pertaining to presidential elections. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845), was the seventh President of the United States (1829-1837), hero of the Battle of New Orleans (1815), a founder of the Democratic Party, and the eponym of the era of Jacksonian democracy. ... John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767–February 23, 1848) was an American lawyer, diplomat, and politician. ... Portrait of U.S. politician William H. Crawford William Harris Crawford (February 24, 1772 – September 15, 1834) was an important American politician during the early 19th century. ... Henry Clay Henry Clay (April 12, 1777 in Hanover County, Virginia – June 29, 1852 in Washington, D.C.) was an American statesman and orator who served in both the House of Representatives and Senate. ...


Under the provisions of the Constitution there is no requirement for a state to poll its voters. The state legislature can in theory appoint the electors as it likes, and, until 1860, South Carolina did just this. Furthermore, in 1788 the concept of "democracy" was widely seen as analogous to mob-rule, while the idea of political parties was equally frowned upon, and so the idea of a directly elected head of state was anathema to many. The Federalist Papers suggest that it was commonly assumed by the Founding Fathers that most Presidents would be selected by the House of Representatives, and the order of the articles of Constitution, in which Congress is established in Article I and the presidency in Article II, supports this view. 1860 is the leap year starting on Sunday. ... State nickname: Palmetto State Official languages English Capital Columbia Largest city Columbia Governor Mark Sanford (R) Senators Lindsey Graham (R) Jim DeMint (R) Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 40th 82,965 km² 6 Population  - Total (2000)  - Density Ranked 26th 4,012,012 51. ... 1788 was a leap year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... Title page of an early Federalist compilation. ... The chamber of the United States House of Representatives is located in the south wing of the Capitol building, in Washington, D.C.. The United States House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the Congress of the United States. ... Congress in Joint Session. ...


Faithless electors

Main articles: Faithless elector, and [[]], and [[]], and [[]], and [[]]

A faithless elector is one who casts an electoral vote for someone other than who they have pledged to elect. On 158 occasions, electors have cast their votes for president or vice president in a different manner than that prescribed by the legislature of the state they represent. Of those, 71 votes were changed because the original candidate died before the elector was able to cast a vote. Two votes were not cast at all when electors chose to abstain from casting their electoral vote for any candidate. The remaining 85 were changed by the elector's personal interest or perhaps by accident. Usually, the faithless electors act alone. An exception was in 1836 when 23 Virginia electors changed their vote together. Still, no faithless elector has ever changed the outcome of any election. The United States Electoral College is the electoral college which chooses the President and Vice President of the United States at the conclusion of each Presidential election. ... The United States Electoral College is the electoral college which chooses the President and Vice President of the United States at the conclusion of each Presidential election. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Official language(s) English Capital Richmond Largest city Virginia Beach Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 35th 110,862 km² 320 km 690 km 7. ...


There are laws to punish faithless electors in 24 states. While no faithless elector has ever been punished, the constitutionality of state pledge laws was brought before the Supreme Court in 1952 (Ray v. Blair, 343 US 214). The court ruled in favor of state's right to legally require electors to vote as pledged, as well as remove electors who refuse to pledge. As stated in the ruling, electors are acting as a function of the state, not the federal government. Therefore, states have the right to govern electors. The Supreme Court of the United States is the supreme court in the United States. ... 1952 (MCMLII) was a [[leap year starting on Tueday] (link will take you to calendar). ...


It should be noted, though, that a state's electoral slate is chosen by the political party, and electors are usually those with high loyalty to the party and its candidate. Thus, a faithless elector runs a greater risk of party censure than governmental action.


Electoral votes

There are a total of 538 electoral votes. For each state, the number of electors is the number of legislators that the state has in Congress. There are 435 members in the House of Representatives and 100 members in the Senate, adding up to 535 votes. The remaining three electors are from the District of Columbia. According to the 23rd Amendment, the District receives either the number of electoral votes that it would receive if it were a state, or the smallest number of electoral votes of any state, whichever is smaller. The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States of America. ... The House of Representatives is the larger of two houses that make up the U.S. Congress, the other being the United States Senate. ... The United States Senate is the upper house of the U.S. Congress, smaller than the United States House of Representatives. ... Aerial photo (looking NW) of the Washington Monument and the White House in Washington, DC. Washington, D.C., officially the District of Columbia (also known as D.C.; Washington; the Nations Capital; the District; and, historically, the Federal City) is the capital city and administrative district of the United... Amendment XXIII (the Twenty-third Amendment) of the United States Constitution permits the District of Columbia to choose Electors for President and Vice President. ...


Since each state has two senators, the number of electors for the state is two more than the number of representatives for the state. Because the number of representatives for each state is determined decennially by the United States Census, the electoral votes for each state are also effectively determined by the Census every ten years. The membership of the United States House of Representatives changes each decade following the decennial United States Census. ... The membership of the United States House of Representatives changes each decade following the decennial United States Census. ... ...


The electoral vote distribution for the 2004 and 2008 elections is as follows.


Alphabetically

Alabama - 9
Alaska - 3
Arizona - 10
Arkansas - 6
California - 55
Colorado - 9
Connecticut - 7
D.C. - 3
Delaware - 3
Florida - 27
Georgia - 15
Hawaii - 4
Idaho - 4
Illinois - 21
Indiana - 11
Iowa - 7
Kansas - 6
Kentucky - 8
Louisiana - 9
Maine - 4
Maryland - 10
Massachusetts - 12
Michigan - 17
Minnesota - 10
Mississippi - 6
Missouri - 11
Montana - 3
Nebraska - 5
Nevada - 5
New Hampshire - 4
New Jersey - 15
New Mexico - 5
New York - 31
North Carolina - 15
North Dakota - 3
Ohio - 20
Oklahoma - 7
Oregon - 7
Pennsylvania - 21
Rhode Island - 4
South Carolina - 8
South Dakota - 3
Tennessee - 11
Texas - 34
Utah - 5
Vermont - 3
Virginia - 13
Washington - 11
West Virginia - 5
Wisconsin - 10
Wyoming - 3

Official language(s) English Capital Montgomery Largest city Birmingham Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 30th 52,423 mi²/135,775 km² 190 mi/306 km 330 mi/531 km 3. ... Official language(s) English Capital Juneau Largest city Anchorage Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 1st 663,267 mi² / 1,717,854 km² 808 mi / 1,300 km 1,479 mi / 2,380 km 13. ... State nickname: The Grand Canyon State, The Copper State Official languages English Capital Phoenix Largest city Phoenix Governor Janet Napolitano (D) Senators John McCain (R) Jon Kyl (R) Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 6th 295,254 km² 0. ... Official language(s) English Capital Little Rock Largest city Little Rock Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 29th 137,732 km² 385 km 420 km 2. ... Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 3rd 410,000 km² 402. ... Official language(s) English Capital Denver Largest city Denver Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 8th 269,837 km² 451 km 612 km 0. ... Official language(s) English Capital Hartford Largest city Bridgeport Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 48th 14,371 km² 113 km 177 km 12. ... Aerial photo (looking NW) of the Washington Monument and the White House in Washington, DC. Washington, D.C., officially the District of Columbia (also known as D.C.; Washington; the Nations Capital; the District; and, historically, the Federal City) is the capital city and administrative district of the United... Official language(s) None Capital Dover Largest city Wilmington Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 49th 6,452 km² 48 km 161 km 21. ... Official language(s) English Capital Tallahassee Largest city Jacksonville Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 22nd 170,451 km² 260 km 800 km 17. ... Official language(s) Hawaiian and English Capital Honolulu Largest city Honolulu Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 43rd 28,337 km² n/a km 2,450 km 41. ... Official language(s) English Capital Boise Largest city Boise Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 14th 216,632 km² 491 km 771 km 0. ... Official language(s) English Capital Springfield Largest city Chicago Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 25th 149,998 km² 340 km 629 km 4. ... Official language(s) English Capital Indianapolis Largest city Indianapolis Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 38th 94,321 km² 225 km 435 km 1. ... Official language(s) English Capital Des Moines Largest city Des Moines Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 26th 145,743 km² 320 km 500 km 0. ... Official language(s) None Capital Topeka Largest city Wichita Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 15th 82,277 mi²; 213,096 km² 211 mi; 340 km 400 mi; 645 km 0. ... Official language(s) English Capital Frankfort Largest city Louisville Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 37th 104,749 km² 225 km 610 km 1. ... Official language(s) English and French Capital Baton Rouge Largest city New Orleans at last official government census, but probably Baton Rouge since Hurricane Katrina Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 31st 134,382 km² 210 km 610 km 16 29°N to 33°N 89°W to... Official language(s) None Capital Augusta Largest city Portland Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 39th 86,542 km² 305 km 515 km 13. ... Official language(s) None Capital Annapolis Largest city Baltimore Area - Total - Width - Length - % water - Latitude - Longitude Ranked 42nd32,160 km²145 km400 km2137°53N to 39°43N75°4W to 79°33W Population - Total (2000) - Density Ranked 19th5,296,486165/km² (5th) Elevation - Highest point - Mean - Lowest point... Official language(s) English Capital Boston Largest city Boston Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 44th 27,360 km² 305 km 80 km 25. ... Official language(s) English de-facto Capital Lansing Largest city Detroit Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 11th 96,889 mi² / 250,941 km² 239 miles / 385 km 491 miles / 790 km 41. ... State nickname: North Star State, The Land of 10,000 Lakes, The Gopher State Official languages None Capital Saint Paul Largest city Minneapolis Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) Senators Mark Dayton (D) Norm Coleman (R) Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 12th 225,365 km² 8. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... State nickname: The Show Me State Official languages English Capital Jefferson City Largest city Kansas City (largest metropolitan area is Saint Louis) Governor Matt Blunt (R) Senators Kit Bond (R) Jim Talent (R) Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 21st 69,709 mi²; 180,693 km² 1. ... Official language(s) English Capital Helena Largest city Billings Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 4th 381,156 km² 410 km 1,015 km 1 44°26 N to 49° N 104°2 W to 116°2 W Population  - Total (2000)  - Density Ranked 44th 902,195 2. ... Official language(s) English Capital Lincoln Largest city Omaha Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 16th 200,520 km² 340 km 690 km 0. ... Official language(s) None Capital Carson City Largest city Las Vegas Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 7th 286,367 km² 519 km 788 km 0. ... Official language(s) English Capital Concord Largest city Manchester Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 46th 24,239 km² 110 km 305 km 3. ... Official language(s) None defined, English de facto Capital Trenton Largest city Newark Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 47th 22,608 km² 110 km 240 km 14. ... Official language(s) English and Spanish Capital Santa Fe Largest city Albuquerque Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 5th 315,194 km² 550 km 595 km 0. ... Official language(s) English Capital Albany Largest city New York City Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 27th 141,205 km² 455 km 530 km 13. ... Official language(s) English Capital Raleigh Largest city Charlotte Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 28th 139,509 km² 805 km 240 km 9. ... Official language(s) English Capital Bismarck Largest city Fargo Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 19th 183 272 km² 340 km 545 km 2. ... Official language(s) None Capital Columbus Largest city Columbus (largest metropolitan area is Cleveland) Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 34th 116,096 km² 355 km 355 km 8. ... Official language(s) None Capital Oklahoma City Largest city Oklahoma City Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 20th 181,196 km² 355 km 645 km 1. ... Official language(s) None Capital Salem Largest city Portland Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 9th 255,026 km² 420 km 580 km 2. ... Official language(s) None Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 33rd 119,283 km² 255 km 455 km 2. ... Official language(s) None Capital Providence Largest city Providence Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 50th 4,005 km² 50 km 65 km 32. ... State nickname: Palmetto State Official languages English Capital Columbia Largest city Columbia Governor Mark Sanford (R) Senators Lindsey Graham (R) Jim DeMint (R) Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 40th 82,965 km² 6 Population  - Total (2000)  - Density Ranked 26th 4,012,012 51. ... Official language(s) English Capital Pierre Largest city Sioux Falls Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 17th 199,905 km² 340 km 610 km 1. ... State nickname: Volunteer State Official languages English Capital Nashville Largest city Memphis Governor Phil Bredesen (D) Senators Bill Frist (R) Lamar Alexander (R) Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 36th 109,247 km² 2. ... Official language(s) None. ... Official language(s) English Capital Salt Lake City Largest city Salt Lake City Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 13th 219,887 km² 435 km 565 km 3. ... Official language(s) None Capital Montpelier Largest city Burlington Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 43th 24,923 km² 130 km 260 km 3. ... Official language(s) English Capital Richmond Largest city Virginia Beach Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 35th 110,862 km² 320 km 690 km 7. ... Official language(s) None Capital Olympia Largest city Seattle Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 18th 184,824 km² 385 km 580 km 6. ... State nickname: Mountain State Official languages English Capital Charleston Largest city Charleston Governor Joe Manchin (D) Senators Robert Byrd (D) Jay Rockefeller (D) Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 41st 62,809 km² 0. ... Official language(s) None Capital Madison Largest city Milwaukee Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 23rd 169,790 km² 420 km 500 km 17 42°30N to 47°3N 86°49W to 92°54W Population  - Total (2000)  - Density Ranked 18th 5,453,896 38. ... Official language(s) English Capital Cheyenne Largest city Cheyenne Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 10th 253,554 km² 450 km 580 km 0. ...

Numerically

California - 55
Texas - 34
New York - 31
Florida - 27
Illinois - 21
Pennsylvania - 21
Ohio - 20
Michigan - 17
Georgia - 15
New Jersey - 15
North Carolina - 15

Virginia - 13
Massachusetts - 12
Indiana - 11
Missouri - 11
Tennessee - 11
Washington - 11
Arizona - 10
Maryland - 10
Minnesota - 10
Wisconsin - 10

Alabama - 9
Colorado - 9
Louisiana - 9
Kentucky - 8
South Carolina - 8
Connecticut - 7
Iowa - 7
Oklahoma - 7
Oregon - 7
Arkansas - 6

Kansas - 6
Mississippi - 6
Nebraska - 5
Nevada - 5
New Mexico - 5
Utah - 5
West Virginia - 5
Hawaii - 4
Idaho - 4
Maine - 4

New Hampshire - 4
Rhode Island - 4
Alaska - 3
Delaware - 3
D.C. - 3
Montana - 3
North Dakota - 3
South Dakota - 3
Vermont - 3
Wyoming - 3

Pros and cons

Supporters of the College

More fairness for rural United States and greater diversity of represented groups

Supporters of the College claim that the system protects rural communities and smaller states from the interests of urban centers and large states. Without the Electoral College, with the vote based on majority rule, it would be possible to win a strict majority of votes by campaigning only in a few densely populated areas of the country. A candidate could theoretically focus resources, time, and political capital solely on winning votes in a handful of large cities in order to win the election. It is felt that this pressure would lead to voters in the sparsely populated West being completely ignored. Thus, the intent of the College is to favor a candidate whose appeal is more broadly distributed on a geographical basis across the nation. Opponents claim the focus on "swing states" in the current system is equally problematic. In United States presidential politics, a swing state (also, battleground state) is a state in which no candidate has overwhelming support, meaning that any of the major candidates have a reasonable chance of winning the states electoral college votes. ...


The philosophy of federalism

Many conservatives defend the Electoral College not out of necessarily practical arguments, but out of the argument that the Electoral College is a symbol of federalism. These defenders, such as United States Senator Mitch McConnell, point out that American states are semi-sovereign, not mere administrative units. They claim that the electoral college reinforces that residual sovereignty. Conceding that the Electoral College violates the principle of "one man, one vote," federalist defenders of the College remind that the United States Senate violates "one man, one vote" even more seriously. Finally, these defenders of the College assert that the United States is a "republic, not a democracy." Federalism is the idea of a group or body of members that are bound together (latin: foedus, covenant) with a governing representative head. ... Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr. ... Seal of the Senate The United States Senate is one of the two chambers of the Congress of the United States, the other being the House of Representatives. ...


Easier recounts

In the event of an extremely close election, such as the 2000 presidential election, having the Electoral College makes doing a recount much easier, since a recount will only be necessary in the few states in which the popular vote is close, rather than the entire nation. This lowering of risk comes at a cost: it is somewhat more likely that a recount will be needed under the Electoral College than under a direct election. (Note that a recount is only needed in an electoral college system if the electoral vote is close enough that the election turns on a small number of states and if that small number of states all have a popular vote close enough to require a recount.) Presidential electoral votes by state. ...


Less incentive for election fraud

Electoral College supporters also believe that the system serves to dampen the consequences of potential election fraud. Fraudulent votes manufactured in one state can only affect the distribution of that state's limited number of electoral votes, any votes beyond a majority in that state have no further effect nationwide. In a pure direct election any number of fraudulent votes would have a direct impact on the results nationwide. Moreover, fraud is less likely to occur in close states because close states are more likely to have healthy multiparty systems with the parties acting as watchdogs on each other.


Opponents claim that in an Electoral College model, voting fraud is a larger problem. In a popular vote system, it is claimed, fraudulent votes could become essentially neutralized by the large amount of legal votes across the nation, while with the College, with state-sized contests, fraudulent votes could garner a larger effect.


Turnout related factors

The Electoral College mitigates against the influence of factors that can affect voter turnout. A major snow storm in a region of the country could suppress voter turnout there. States with gubernatorial or senate races of a high interest level will likely have a higher than normal turnout. Under a popular vote system, such turnout variations would influence the relative strength of a state's vote, while with the electoral college, such variations do not affect the states' relative influence on the national outcome.


Death or unsuitability of a candidate

While it is common to think of the electoral votes as numbers, the college is in fact made up of real people (usually party regulars of the party whose candidate wins each state). If a candidate were to die or become in some other way unsuitable to serve as President or Vice President, these electors can choose a suitable replacement who will most likely come from the same party of the candidate who won the election. The time period of such a death or unsuitability that is covered extends from before election day (many states can not change ballots at a late stage) until the day the electors vote, the third Wednesday of December.


Detractors of the College

U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Arlen Specter both called for the abolition of the Electoral College in 2000 after the electoral debacle; however, this motion went nowhere. Seal of the Senate The United States Senate is one of the two chambers of the Congress of the United States, the other being the House of Representatives. ... Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (born October 26, 1947), was First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001, as the wife of President Bill Clinton. ... Arlen Specter (born February 12, 1930) is a United States Senator from Pennsylvania. ... This article is about the year 2000. ...


Most electoral reform plans in the US include ways to abolish the Electoral College. Electoral reform projects seek to change the way that public desires are reflected in elections through electoral systems. ...


Disenfranchisement and inequality of voters

Supporters of direct election argue that it would give everyone an equal vote, regardless of what state they live in, and oppose giving disproportionately amplified voting power to voters in small states. In contrast, the Electoral College disenfranchises those voters in every state who cast their votes for the candidate receiving fewer votes in that state. And it also partly disenfranchises voters in larger states by reducing their proportional contribution to the final election result. For example, in 1988 the combined voting age population of the six least populous states (Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming) plus the District of Columbia was 3,119,000, and carrying 21 Electoral votes between them. The State of Florida, which had 9,614,000 persons of voting age carried exactly the same number of Electoral College votes: 21. Each Floridian's potential vote, then, carried about one third the weight of a potential vote in the other states listed. The election was held on November 8, 1988. ... Official language(s) English Capital Juneau Largest city Anchorage Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 1st 663,267 mi² / 1,717,854 km² 808 mi / 1,300 km 1,479 mi / 2,380 km 13. ... Official language(s) None Capital Dover Largest city Wilmington Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 49th 6,452 km² 48 km 161 km 21. ... Official language(s) English Capital Bismarck Largest city Fargo Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 19th 183 272 km² 340 km 545 km 2. ... Official language(s) English Capital Pierre Largest city Sioux Falls Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 17th 199,905 km² 340 km 610 km 1. ... Official language(s) None Capital Montpelier Largest city Burlington Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 43th 24,923 km² 130 km 260 km 3. ... Official language(s) English Capital Cheyenne Largest city Cheyenne Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 10th 253,554 km² 450 km 580 km 0. ... ... Official language(s) English Capital Tallahassee Largest city Jacksonville Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 22nd 170,451 km² 260 km 800 km 17. ...


Proponents counter that electoral votes are worth more when they are bunched up together. In other words, 21 electors are worth more than 7 sets of 3 electors, because 21 EVs could easily turn the result of the election, while a person voting in a 3-electoral vote state would not have such a proportionally large effect on the result.


Losing the popular vote

In the elections of 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000, the candidate who received a plurality of the popular vote did not become president. It has been claimed that this disfranchises the people. Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... A plurality (or relative majority) is the largest share of something, which may or may not be a majority. ... The examples and perspective in this article do not represent a worldwide view. ...


Proponents counter that the Electoral College asks candidates to garner more widespread support across the Union; a popular vote system could elect a person who wins by a large margin in a few states over another person who wins by small margins in most states. The latter candidate, they argue, has to appeal to a broader array of interests than the former and is less likely to be a demagogue or extremist.


Focus on large swing states

While attention is often given to the granting of a disproportionate number of electoral votes to smaller states, often overlooked is another part of the electoral system: most states use a winner-take-all system, in which the candidate with the most votes in that state receives all of the state's electoral votes. Candidates will pay more attention to larger states without a clear favorite. California, Texas, and New York, in spite of having the largest populations, are usually considered safe for a particular party, and will therefore be ignored by candidates (except for fundraising efforts). Small states such as New Mexico which are winnable for both major parties, but yield a small number of electoral votes also tend to be ignored by candidates. Large "swing states" like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are usually considered winnable for both major parties and a large number of electoral votes turn on their results, and so candidates tend to disproportionately spend more time on these close states, at the expense of the voters in "safe states" or small states. Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 3rd 410,000 km² 402. ... Official language(s) None. ... Official language(s) English Capital Albany Largest city New York City Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 27th 141,205 km² 455 km 530 km 13. ... Official language(s) English and Spanish Capital Santa Fe Largest city Albuquerque Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 5th 315,194 km² 550 km 595 km 0. ... In United States presidential politics, a swing state (also, battleground state) is a state in which no candidate has overwhelming support, meaning that any of the major candidates have a reasonable chance of winning the states electoral college votes. ... Official language(s) English Capital Tallahassee Largest city Jacksonville Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 22nd 170,451 km² 260 km 800 km 17. ... Official language(s) None Capital Columbus Largest city Columbus (largest metropolitan area is Cleveland) Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 34th 116,096 km² 355 km 355 km 8. ... Official language(s) None Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 33rd 119,283 km² 255 km 455 km 2. ...


Proponents claim, however, that adoption of the popular vote would simply shift the disproportionate focus to large cities at the expense of rural areas.


Paradoxical effects of the House size

One little-known (and undesirable) quality of the Electoral College system is the fact that in close elections, the exact number of seats in the House of Representatives becomes a crucial factor in deciding the outcome. The current House size of 435 seats was fixed by an Act of Congress in 1910, not by the constitution, and Congress could change it at will. Since the number of Senators is fixed by the constitution to exactly twice the number of States, enlarging the House would lessen the advantage of smaller states in Presidential elections, while downsizing it would strengthen their advantage. If we take the popular votes cast at the Election of 2000 and the population figures of the 1990 U.S. Census with the consequential apportionment of House seats to the states as a given, George W. Bush would have won the election for all House sizes less than 491, while Al Gore would have won for all house sizes greater than 598 (except at 655, which gives a tie). In between those two numbers, the winner unsystematically oscillates back and forth many times -- of the 105 house sizes between those numbers, there is a 269/269 tie 23 times, Bush wins 53 times and Gore wins 29 times. The effect is comparable to the Alabama paradox which caused states to actually lose House seats by increasing the House size in certain circumstances, and which led to the introduction of a more mathematically sound method of reapportionment in the late 19th century. An Act of Congress is a bill or resolution adopted by both houses of the United States Congress to which one of the following events has happened: Acceptance by the President of the United States, Inaction by the President after ten days from reception (excluding Sundays) while the Congress is... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... The Twenty-first United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States to be 248,709,873, an increase of 9. ... The membership of the United States House of Representatives changes each decade following the decennial United States Census. ... George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States. ... Albert Arnold Gore Jr. ... The Alabama paradox was the first of the apportionment paradoxes to be discovered. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Untrue hidden assumption of local uniformity

Detractors claim that the Electoral College assumes that voters within states vote monolithically, when in fact this is not the case. Many states are often deeply divided over how to vote in a Presidential election. A key element of democracy is that voters disagree among themselves on what they consider their interests, and this happens within states as well as between states. Thus, for example, in the 2000 election, New Hampshire (a small state) gave 48% of its votes to Bush, and 47% to Gore. According to the pro-Electoral College model, as a small state, New Hampshire necessarily voted for its own local interests in supporting Bush. This in itself skews the campaign process, as candidates focus their efforts on states whose electoral votes are in question, rather than individual voters whose ballots are in play, and may contribute to broader sectional divisions. Proponents of proportional representation claim that this critique supports proportional representation because it reflects such innate divisions and pluralities in electorates. Official language(s) English Capital Concord Largest city Manchester Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 46th 24,239 km² 110 km 305 km 3. ... George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States. ... Albert Arnold Gore Jr. ...


Unfair disadvantage for third parties

Opponents also argue that the method by which most states allot their electoral votes tends to favor a two-party system. Even when a third-party candidate receives a significant number of popular votes, he may not receive a plurality in any state and may not garner even a single electoral vote, as was the case of Ross Perot, who won 18% of the popular vote in the 1992 elections. Proponents usually counter by stating that a third-party candidate with enough votes to win will usually be able to garner some electoral votes, and these electors might even hold the balance of power. Additionally, third parties with a strong regional bias could actually find their strength enhanced by the Electoral College. Henry Ross Perot (born June 27, 1930), is a billionaire American businessman from Texas best known as a candidate for President of the United States (in 1992 and 1996). ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ...


Some proponents of proportional representation claim that, because third parties generally start as regional phenomena and because the Electoral College is a form of regional allocation, the Electoral College would enhance the power of third parties if electoral votes were allocated by proportional representation.


Elections ending up decided by Congress

Another aspect of the Electoral College with which its detractors find fault is the situation that could arise if no candidate won a majority of electoral votes. Third party candidates won electoral votes in several elections of the 20th century, including 1912, 1948, 1960, 1968, and 1972. It is quite possible in a three-way race that no candidate would reach the magic 270 number. Even in a two-way race, it is possible for neither candidate to win a majority by tying 269-269. If no candidate hit 270, the election would go to the House, where the Constitution provides that each state delegation would have one vote, regardless of its population. This gives small states an even stronger advantage than they have in the College. If the House election tied, or if enough delegations split evenly, the situation would become more complicated. In this case, section 3 of the 20th amendment would take control. Assuming that the Senate were able to choose a Vice President-elect, he would become the acting President until the Congress could choose a President. If the Senate were unable to choose a Vice President-elect, then the Speaker of the House, as next in line in the order of succession to the presidency, would act as President until either a President-elect or Vice President-elect could be determined. Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ...


Excludes American nationals from outside the states and the District of Columbia

If an American national has their residency in one of the unincorporated territories of the United States (i.e., American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), he or she cannot vote for electors for President. This is part of a more general disfranchisement because these nationals also cannot vote for a representative or senator.


Any attempt to amend the Constitution to allow these nationals to vote for electors would be complicated by the need to come up with a formula for the number electors to be chosen by these nationals that would mesh well with the existing formula for states and the District of Columbia. In contrast, a direct election would avoid this complication.


Supporters of an Electoral College with modified rules

Some proponents argue that the greatest objections to the Electoral College can be acceptably mitigated by modifying the rules by which votes are allocated.


Proportional vote

The primary proposal of this type is for states to implement a proportional vote system. Under such a system, electors would be selected in proportion to the votes cast for their candidate or party, rather than being selected to represent only the plurality vote. As an example, consider the 2000 election, in which the George W. Bush / Richard Cheney (Republican) and Albert Gore Jr. / Joseph Lieberman (Democrat) tickets were the primary contenders, with the Ralph Nader / Winona LaDuke (Green) ticket taking a small but noteworthy minority. In California, the approximate proportion of votes for these tickets was 41.65 percent Bush/Cheney, 53.45 percent Gore/Lieberman, and 3.82 percent Nader/LaDuke. Under the current system, all 54 electoral votes were for Gore/Lieberman. Under a simple proportional system, the votes might be distributed as 23 Bush/Cheney, 29 Gore/Lieberman, and 2 Nader/LaDuke. Richard Bruce Cheney (born January 30, 1941), widely known as Dick Cheney, is an American politician and businessman affiliated with the U.S. Republican Party. ... Joseph Isadore Lieberman (born February 24, 1942) is a Jewish-American Democratic politician and a current U.S. senator from Connecticut. ... Ralph Nader Ralph Nader (born February 27, 1934) is an American activist lawyer who opposes the power of large corporations and has worked for decades on environmental, consumer rights, and pro-democracy issues. ... Winona LaDuke Winona LaDuke (1959 - ) is a Native American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer. ... In American politics, the Green Party is a third party which has been active in some areas since the 1980s, but first gained widespread public attention for Ralph Naders presidential runs in 1996 and 2000. ...


As a practical matter, this system would be very difficult to implement. According to the Constitution, the state legislatures decide how electors are chosen. It is usually against the interest of an individual state to switch to a method of proportional allocation because it reduces that state's influence in the Electoral College. For example, in 2004, the state of Colorado voted down an initiative on its 2004 ballot, Amendment 36, which would have instituted a system of proportional allocation of electors beginning immediately with the 2004 election. Let's suppose that in 2006, Amendment 36 were put back on the ballot and passed. Then Colorado would not be a swing state in 2008, no matter how closely contested it might be. Instead of candidates vying for all nine of Colorado's votes, they would be fighting for a single vote. Official language(s) English Capital Denver Largest city Denver Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 8th 269,837 km² 451 km 612 km 0. ... In the November 2004 United States election, one of the issues up for a vote in the state of Colorado was known as Amendment 36. ...


A perceived problem with dividing electoral votes proportionally is that it would be harder for a candidate to achieve a majority of the electoral vote, since a proportional system would enable a third party candidate to win electoral votes. If this system had been used in 1992 and 1996, and all electors had voted as pledged, there would have been no winner at all, and the House of Representatives would have chosen the president, whilst the Senate selected the Vice-President. In 1996 Robert Dole would almost certainly have been the House winner, and Jack Kemp the Senate, as well, despite receiving significantly fewer votes than Bill Clinton and Al Gore. In 2000, Al Gore would have received 269 electoral votes, George W. Bush 263, and Ralph Nader 6. If all electors voted as pledged, the Presidential race would have gone to the House, and Bush likely would have won, but the Vice Presidential decision in the Senate would have likely split 51-50 for Lieberman, with Al Gore casting the deciding vote. Bob Dole Robert Joseph Dole (born July 22, 1923) is best known as a former Republican United States Senate Majority Leader and Senator from Kansas. ... Jack French Kemp, Jr. ...


Maine-Nebraska method

Other observers argue that the current electoral rules of Maine and Nebraska should be extended nationwide. As previously noted, the winner in those two states is only guaranteed two electoral votes, with the winner of each Congressional district in the state receiving one electoral vote. Using the California example again, Gore won 33 of the state's Congressional districts and the state overall, while Bush won 19 Congressional districts. The state's electoral votes would then have gone 35-19 for Gore.


However, this kind of allocation would still make it possible for the loser of the popular vote to become president. If every state used the Maine-Nebraska system, George W. Bush would have won in 2000 by an even larger Electoral College majority than he did with winner-take-all. Also, dividing electoral votes by House district winners would create yet another incentive for partisan gerrymandering. In 1960, if a district system had been used Richard Nixon would have been elected, despite losing the popular vote. Printed in 1812, this political cartoon illustrates the electoral districts drawn by the Massachusetts legislature to favor the incumbent Democratic-Republican party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists. ... Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. ...


Another perceived problem with this suggestion is that it would actually further increase the advantage of small states. In winner-take-all, the small states' disproportionally high number of electors is partially offset by the fact that large states with their big electoral blocks are such a highly desirable boon to a candidate that large swing states actually receive much more attention during the campaign than smaller states. In proportional representation or Maine-Nebraska, this advantage of the large states would be gone.


Yet another argument with both Maine-Nebraska and proportional representation is that even if it is considered superior as a nationwide system, winner-take-all generally maximizes the power of an individual state and thus while it might be in the interest of the nation, it is not in the interest of the state to adopt any other system. Since the U.S. constitution gives the states the power to chose their method of appointing the electors, nationwide Maine-Nebraska without a constitutional amendment mandating it seems unlikely, and the passage of such an amendment seems equally unlikely since the House delegations of the largest states (against whose interests such a system would be), taken together, easily surpass the one third of the House size that is needed to block a constitutional amendment.


Abolishing the non-proportional electors ("drop two")

Another proposed reform is to make the number of electors that each state has the same as its number of Representatives (effectively the same as the current system, except taking two electoral votes from each state). This plan, sometimes called "drop two," would still over-represent the very smallest states — those who receive their one seat in the House only because every state receives at least one — but would make the over-representation much less significant. If such a system had been in place in 2000, Al Gore would have won in the Electoral College 225-211.


Proponents of this suggestion say that this will preserve the Electoral College's benefits and make the system more democratic at the same time. Others say this will remove the extra power given to the small states intended to make elections fairer and there would still exist the phenomenon of non-swing states being ignored.


Popular vote bonus method

Some have advocated retaining the Electoral College, but allotting a certain number of electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the popular vote. This method could encourage voters in non-swing states to cast ballots, since their votes could still help their candidate win the popular vote. A common suggestion for implementing this variation is to award a block of electoral votes equal to half the number of electoral votes cast by the most populous state to the popular vote winner. Under such a system, Gore would have won in the College, 293-271, with the 27 "at large" electoral votes (equal to half of California's 54) awarded to Gore. In United States presidential politics, a swing state (also, battleground state) is a state in which no candidate has overwhelming support, meaning that any of the major candidates have a reasonable chance of winning the states electoral college votes. ... Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 3rd 410,000 km² 402. ...


Adoption of this method would theoretically prevent the winner of the popular vote from losing the election.


Alternative systems

Majority versus plurality

The Electoral College requires a majority vote in order for a victor to be declared. In the case of a hypothetical direct election with multiple candidates, the question of majority versus plurality comes into play. In many recent American presidential elections (1948, 1960, 1968, 1992, 1996, and 2000), no single candidate achieved an absolute majority of the popular vote. Some nations with direct presidential voting, such as France, have a second round of voting if no candidate achieves a majority of votes in the first round; in the second round, the election is restricted to the two candidates with the highest number of votes. Some have argued that the French system creates problems of its own; it is possible that the initial vote becomes divided up between so many candidates that someone who is highly undesirable to most voters can make it to the second round of voting, as occurred in 2002 with the rise of candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen to the runoff election. One solution to this problem would be to implement an alternative election system, such as instant runoff voting, approval voting, or condorcet voting. However critics of those methods contend that they are too difficult to understand for a sizable portion of the population, and would thus result in many people casting spoiled ballots or ballots that do not correspond to what they actually want to vote for. A majority is a subset of a group that is more than half of the entire group. ... A plurality (or relative majority) is the largest share of something, which may or may not be a majority. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Runoff voting is a voting system used in single-seat elections. ... // Second Round First Round General Summary On May 1, Labour Day, the yearly demonstrations for workers rights were compounded by protests against Jean-Marie Le Pen. ... Portrait of Jean-Marie Le Pen. ... When the single transferable vote voting system is applied to a single-winner election it is sometimes called instant-runoff voting (IRV), as it is much like holding a series of runoff elections in which the lowest polling candidate is eliminated in each round until someone receives majority vote. ... Approval voting is a voting system used for elections, in which each voter can vote for as many or as few candidates as the voter chooses. ... There is a disputed proposal that this article should be merged with Condorcet criterion Any election method conforming to the Condorcet criterion is known as a Condorcet method. ...


Weighted direct voting

Another possibility is to have direct voting, but give smaller states more weight per vote to more or less match the current small-state favoritism. Small states may be more motivated to support a constitutional voting system change as long as they keep their favoritism. For example, an individual in a populous state may be assigned 0.91 votes, while somebody from a small state may be assigned 1.08 votes. Under this system, candidates would have more incentive to campaign in all states. However since such a system would make the small state advantage more directly obvious to the general public than the current system, it is unlikely to receive support in the large states. In addition, many Electoral College opponents would consider this system contradictory to the entire point of abolishing the Electoral College: the principle of one person, one vote.


Political probabilities

Many critics of the Electoral College admit that discarding the Electoral College would be extremely difficult. After the 2000 election, the National Commission on Federal Election Reform, headed by former presidents Carter and Ford, did not even consider abolition of the Electoral College. When asked why the Commission did not consider Electoral College reform, Carter, a past skeptic of the College replied "I think it is a waste of time to talk about changing the Electoral College. I would predict that 200 years from now, we will still have the Electoral College." [1]


Despite the difficulty of amending the Constitution, it appears that large majorities of Americans favor a direct popular vote. In a 1968 Gallup survey, 81% of Americans favored a direct popular vote, 12% favored retention, and 7% had no opinion. In 1992, pollsters asked Americans this question, "If Perot runs, there is a chance that no presidential candidate will get enough electoral votes to win. If that happens, the Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to decide who will be the next President. Do you think that is a fair way to choose the President, or should the Constitution be changed?" 31% said it was a fair way, and 61% said the Constitution should be changed.


By some counts, there have been over seven hundred proposed amendments to the Constitution to change or abolish the Electoral College. In 1969, in the wake of an election where a third party candidate almost sent the election to the House of Representatives, an amendment to do away with the Electoral College passed the House of Representatives with 83% of the vote, 338-70. Richard Nixon favored the amendment, and so did three-quarters of state legislatures. Republican Senator Howard Baker denounced the Electoral College with "Any system which favors one citizen over another or one state over another is ... inconsistent with the most fundamental concept of a democratic society." Predictably, the amendment failed in the Senate (though it did have a majority of Senate votes); however, it was not small states who blocked the reform but rather Southern states, who saw the Electoral College as part of states' rights. Sen. ... In American politics and constitutional law, states rights are guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (i. ...


Regardless of how opponents of the system feel, it is unlikely that the system will soon be changed. Changing the system requires amending the Constitution, and amending the Constitution requires votes of 2/3rds of each House of Congress (which is itself difficult to obtain, especially in the Senate) plus ratification of three-fourths of the States. It is commonly thought that smaller states would be unlikely to ratify such an amendment, as their votes would count for less under direct popular vote than under the current electoral college system.


Some believe abolishing the Electoral College would strengthen third parties. However, this is unlikely. Under an electoral college system, third parties may thrive in noncompetitive states because voters do not have to worry that voting for a third party would cause the "least bad" major party candidate to lose. Under a strictly democratic system, every vote in every state might be the decisive one. A greater impediment to third parties is the plurality winner-take-all system. The First Past the Post electoral system, is a voting system for single-member districts. ...


Debate over the merit of the Electoral College came to a head after the 2000 Presidential election, with some politicians, such as Senator Hillary Clinton, calling for a Constitutional amendment abolishing the system. Clinton conceded that the chances of enacting such a change were slim, and the idea has not been vigorously pursued since the 2000 election. Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (born October 26, 1947), was First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001, as the wife of President Bill Clinton. ...


See also

This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... The United States has a federal government, with elected officials at federal (national), state and local level. ... An electoral college is a set of electors who are empowered as a deliberative body to elect someone to a particular office. ... 2004 U.S. presidential electors, by state: Alabama - Republican - http://www. ... Screenshot of Electoral-vote. ...

External links

  • The Electoral College - by William C. Kimberling, Deputy Director FEC Office of Election Administration
  • Outcomes of Presidential Elections and the House Size - The Neubauer-Zeitlin analysis shows that the winner of the 2000 presidential election was determined in 1941 when the House size was fixed at 435. Had the House size been set at 500, then Gore would have won the 2000 election.
  • Electoral College Vote Calculator - A tool for determining which combinations of states a candidate can win to become President.
  • Origin and History - Shorter version of the origin and history of the US Electoral College via uselectionatlas.org
  • http://www.presidentelect.org
  • http://unfutz.blogspot.com/2004/10/electoral-college-survey-1030.html
  • Voting, Elections, Democracy, Republicanism, and the Electoral College Discusses voting, elections, democracy, republicanism, and the Electoral College. Includes a procedural guide to the Electoral College, parts of the Constitution and constitutional amendments regarding voting and elections, and includes the original paper by Alexander Hamilton, "Federalist No. 68 - The Mode of Electing the President", which illustrates much of the founding fathers' original thinking regarding the Electoral College.
  • Electoral College, via indepthinfo.com.

Support of electoral college system

  • The Electoral College Zine - A web site supporting retention of the Electoral College, including an article giving a mathematical analysis(See below)
  • Electoral College: Is this a democratic way to pick a president?- Defense of the electoral college and representative democracies from a senior at Michigan's Ross School of Business
  • Math Against Tyranny - an article describing MIT researcher Alan Natapoff's analysis favoring an electoral college system

Opposition to electoral college system

  • League of Women Voters - A web page from the League of Women Voters advocating direct election and the abolition of the Electoral College
  • US presidential electoral system - A mathematical analysis of the US presidential system, showing that this system is biased toward populous states, giving a citizen of California roughly four times more power than one of Montana in the choice of the US president.

 
 

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