Really helpful information. Now I realize I had no idea about this subject. Thanks!
Excellent a very clear explanation.
My mother tried to explain how our system works and it was always so hard to understand and even with the ways she tried to give examples. But now I totally understand how this works. No matter what, I think our system on voting is very deceptive. How do you really get our younger generation to vote if they don't even remotely understand how the process works. It is very discouraging to hear that a person isn't going to vote when electoral subjects are brought up. But at the same time they will argue at all political subjects as though everything is against them.
When and why was the electoral college started? Why not simply a popular vote?
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It´s good to know the way the american democratic system works. I hope I am going to understand more what it is all about.
What a complex and irrational system!
What about the election law in United States
Informative, a lo of americans are not aware of how this works. Good module, especially for those taking the course that are auditory and very visual.
Critics of the Electoral College system, of which there are more than a few, point out that the system allows the possibility of a candidate actually losing the nationwide popular vote, but being elected president by the electoral vote
In the US we don't directly vote for a president or a vice president.
Instead we use something called the "Electoral College"
The Electoral College...
So, when you show up to vote on Election Day,
and Election Day will happen on November of an election year
and it could happen as early as November 2nd
and it could happen as late as November 8th.
And it's going to be the Tuesday after the first Monday in the month.
So, it'll be November 2nd if the first Monday is November 1st,
and it'll be November 8th if the first Monday is November 7th.
And so you go on Election Day and you will see a ballot
that will have the presidential candidates, it'll have their parties there
and it'll have the vice presidental candidates
and you'll vote for one of them.
But in actuality, when you're voting for candidate A
and let's say candidate A is a democrat.
You are not actually voting for candidate A,
you are actually voting for a slate of electors
who promised to vote for that candidate.
So electors for that candidate.
And it isn't, in most States,
proportional, based on what proportion of people
vote for one candidate or another.
It's in most of the States, except for Maine or Nebraska,
it is a winner takes all system, so what do I mean by that?
So, right here we have the break down of the Unites States
by state of how many electors each State gets.
And the number of Electors is essentially
the number of Congressmen that that state has.
For example: California has 2 Senators
Every state has 2 Senators
California has 2 Senators and 53 Congressmen
and for those of you who aren't familiar with it
Every state gets 2 senators and
the House of Representatives is dictated by population
California is a huge State, 2 Senators, 53 Representatives
you have Texas: 2 Senators and it has 32 Representatives
you go to Lousiana: you have 2 Senators and you have 7 Representatives
So, the Electors per State is based on the total number of Congressmen
So the number of Senators plus the number of Representatives
That's what gives us 55 in California,
9 in Lousiana, 34 in Texas.
What is interesting here is it's a winner take all in every state,
except for Nebraska and Maine.
In every other state if I get 51% of the vote in Texas,
I get all 34 electoral votes in the Electoral College
If I get 51 or ever if I get 50.1%,
just a slight majority of the votes in California,
I will get all of the votes for California in the Electoral College,
and in general, or in actuallity,
the president is whoever gets the majority
of the electoral votes in the United States.
And right now that threshold is
or that magic number, you could think of it that way
is 270 Electoral College votes.
If no candidate is able to hit this threshold of 270 Electoral College votes
than it'll go to the US Congress
And in the US Congress it's interesting
because it isn't one Congressman one vote
or actually I should say: The US House of Representatives.
It'll go to the US House of Representatives
and it won't be one Representative one vote
what will happen is the Representatives in each State will vote together
and each State will get only one vote.
So, in a tie breaker the big states really, really lose out
because in the tie breaker Texas will get only one vote
California will get one vote
and Alaska will get one vote
and Rhode Island will get one vote.
So, Rhode Island will have just as much to say in a tie breaker
as California will over who will be president
and they'll just keep voting until someone gets
a simple majority of the votes by state.
Now, there's one other twist here.
It's that the District of Columbia
Washington DC right over here
in Congress gets no Representatives
they have no Senators and they have no Representatives
but they do get 3 electoral votes
when it comes to deciding who is going to be president.
Now you might already may be beging to have a sense here
that maybe this winner takes all system might lead to some distortions
and the biggest distortion of all is
you can imagine a candidate who wins
who wins the popular vote
and loses the election, or loses in the electoral college.
And you might be thinking well gee, how can that happen?
And the way to think about it is,
imagine someone, let's say someone gets
with the States that they win, they get huge majorities.
So lets say there is a conservative candidate,
and he or she gets huge majorities in the States they win
80% in Texas, they get 80% in Mississippi,
they get 80% in Oklahoma.
They get huge majorities in the states that they win
and the state that they lose they barely lose.
And they barely lose those really big states.
So let's say in Florida that candidate, I should say,
gets 49% of the vote.
So they had a lot of votes in Florida but not
enough to win it, the other person let's say gets 51%
all 27 go to the other candidate.
Let's say the same thing happens in California,
that candidate got 49% of the vote,
the opponent, say, gets 51% of the vote.
All 55 go to California, you get no credit for that 49%
you get no credit for that 49% in Florida.
So in this situation, this candidate might actually end up
with the majority barely losing the states they lose and
trouncing the other candidate in the states that they win
but despite that actually getting fewer Electoral College votes.
Now there's a few clarifications I want to make
especially ones that have confused me in the past.
One of them is, because you have
the same number of Electoral College votes
as you have US Representatives plus Senators
there's kind of this feeling that maybe each
each district sends its own elector to the state capital
to decide who the president is
and it doesn't quite work that way.
So this right here is the panel of electors
for Louisiana in 2008, and you can see right over here
each of the parties have their own slate of electors
and these are either decided by the parties themselves
or they're decided by the candidates' teams
and even though you have someone here for each district
and then you have these at large canidates,
it's not like, let's take a situation,
and this actually happened in Louisiana,
where John McCain got a majority of the state
so John McCain and Sarah Palin got a majority of the state
it's not the case that, let's say, in the second district
which is New Orleans,
Let's say that the second district the majority of the people
actually voted for Barack Obama.
It is not the case that Kenneth Garret in 2008
would have been the chosen elector.
Actually, even though they divide things by district
and they have these at large candidates
it actually a state wide election.
So they don't look at who won each of the districts
they just say, "look John McCain and Sarah Palin
won the entire state."
So all of these electors
are the ones that are going to go
to the state capital in December
and decide who they want to plege their vote for
so even if Obama won
just the second congressional district
that's not how it's thought about in the electoral college,
it's just a state-wide election.
McCain got the majority of the state,
all of the electors will be chosen from McCain's slate
or from the republican party slate.
And then their gonna go to the state capital
in the case of Louisiana it would be the Baton Rouge
and they will decide who they want to plege their votes to.
And all of the electors in all of the states
go to their designated location,
usually the state Capitol, on the same day
and usually that is some day in December
and then they pick the president,
although by that point everyone know who the president is
because the actual election was in early November
and people know which way the votes went
and which way the electoral college votes went.
Now I did mention that there are two states
that don't do this winner take all,
Nebraska and Maine,
and in Nebraska and Maine
when you go vote it really is by congressional district
Nebraska has 3 congressional districts
so in those 3 congressional districts
if one of them goes to the democrat
and two of them goes republican
then they'll have 1 electoral vote for the democrat
and 2 for the republican.
And then they have two at large votes
that are decided the same way
the kind of the "winner takes all" basis
if you take 51% of the vote on a state wide basis
you get two at large votes.
Same thing for Maine,
but Maine has 2 congressional districts
so 2 of the congressional districts could go either way
and then the at large are based on a state-wide vote.
Now you could imagine the other kind of
unfair thing here other than the popular vote versus the
you know, the electoral college vote,
is it, you can imagine it makes some states
better represented than others.
So if you just divide population
by the number of electors,
you see the larger states each elector
is representing many, many more people,
this is California right here,
Each elector is representing over 600,000 people,
and in the smaller states,
this is Wyoming right here,
each elector is representing under 200,000 people.
So in Wyoming people are getting kind of
three times the representation
as they would in California on a per capita vote.
What makes it even a little bit more skewed
because it's "winner takes all"
and the candidates aren't silly
and they wanna make sure that they spend their money
and their visits and their time in the most leverageable way
it actually creates this weird scenario where
candidates will often ignore huge part of the population
and they ignore them because those huge parts of the population
are unlikely to swing either one way or the other.
So, for example, California is very reliably democratic
and Texas is very reliably republican.
So this right here, this is a fascinating graph
--at least in my mind--
it shows where George W Bush and John Kerry
spent the last 5 weeks of the 2004 election
--let me close that right there...--
of the 2004 election.
This top graph shows where they actually
spent their time so each these little hands here is a visit
in those final 5 weeks
and each of these dollar signs
is a million dollars spent on marketing and advertising
and on ads and whatever else in those states
and you can see California and Texas,
the two biggest states,
they didn't spend enough money to threshold
to get a dollar sign written there
so they didn't even spend a million dollars
on these huge states
they only had a few visits to California
Texas had no visits in the final five weeks
so what happens is that candidates spend
a disproportionate amount of attention and money
in the states that are more likely to swing
one way or another,
so the people in Florida, or in Ohio,
--this is all Ohio and Florida--
got a ton of more attention, especially on a per person basis
they the people in Texas did.
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