Picking a U.S. President
Every four years, American voters head to the polls to elect a president and a vice president. Yet those votes are just part of a detailed system known as the Electoral College, which is used by the U.S. to determine its executive leaders; a system set up by the Founding Fathers of our nation.
The founding fathers established the Electoral College in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens. However, the term “electoral college” does not appear in the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment refer to “electors,” but not to the “electoral college.”
Since the Electoral College process is part of the original design of the U.S. Constitution it would be necessary to pass a Constitutional amendment to change this system.
Note that the 12th Amendment, the expansion of voting rights, and the use of the popular vote in the States as the vehicle for selecting electors has substantially changed the process.
The Electoral College is made up of 538 electoral votes divided among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to be elected.
The number of electoral votes each state receives ranges from 3 to 55 based on the number of Congressional seats the state holds, which is essentially linked to the population of the state. The District of Columbia gets 3 votes because the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution grants it the same number votes as the least populated state in the union. The territories of the U.S. like Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa, etc. get no Electoral College votes.
The Electoral College system does not provide for residents of U.S. Territories, such as Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa to vote for President. Unless citizens in U.S. Territories have official residency (domicile) in a U.S. State or the District of Columbia (and vote by absentee ballot or travel to their State to vote), they cannot vote in the presidential election. Note that prior to the adoption of the 23rd Amendment, DC residents could not vote in the Presidential election.
The political parties may authorize voters in primary elections in Territories to select delegates to represent them at the political party conventions. But that process does not affect the Electoral College system.
The voting public’s ballots make up what is known as the “popular vote”, and in 48 of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, the candidate receiving the most popular votes in a state will receive all of that state’s electoral votes. Only Maine and Nebraska split their electoral votes among candidates through their state’s system for ‘proportional allocation’ of votes.
In the rare event that no candidate gets the necessary 270 electoral votes to win the office, the House of Representatives elects the president from the three candidates who received the most electoral votes. Each state only gets one vote, so it could be a long process and full of contention among the state representatives to decide on that vote. That has never happened in U.S. history.
However, in the Presidential election of 1836, the election for Vice President was decided in the Senate. Martin Van Buren’s running mate, Richard M. Johnson, fell one vote short of a majority in the Electoral College. Vice Presidential candidates Francis Granger and Johnson had a “run-off” in the Senate under the 12th Amendment, where Johnson was elected 33 votes to 17.
Over the decades the discussion of doing away with the Electoral College has arisen often, but after studying the process, one sees that there is a reason the Founding Fathers put it in place. Little that our Founding Fathers put in place has needed to be altered or changed. Many feel that these scholarly men were inspired and guided by a higher power while creating Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution.
Many different proposals to alter the Presidential election process have been offered over the years, such as direct nation-wide election by the People, but none have been passed by Congress and sent to the States for ratification as a Constitutional amendment. Under the most common method for amending the Constitution, an amendment must be proposed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the States.
Reference sources indicate that over the past 200 years, over 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College. There have been more proposals for Constitutional amendments on changing the Electoral College than on any other subject. The American Bar Association has criticized the Electoral College as “archaic” and “ambiguous” and its polling showed 69 percent of lawyers favored abolishing it in 1987. But surveys of political scientists have supported continuation of the Electoral College. Public opinion polls have shown Americans favored abolishing it by majorities of 58 percent in 1967; 81 percent in 1968; and 75 percent in 1981.
Opinions on the viability of the Electoral College system may be affected by attitudes toward third parties. Third parties have not fared well in the Electoral College system. Candidates with regional appeal such as Governor Thurmond in 1948 and Governor Wallace in 1968, won blocs of electoral votes in the South. Neither come close to seriously challenging the major party winner, but they may have affected the overall outcome of the election.
The last third party, or splinter party, candidate to make a strong showing was Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 (Progressive, also known as the Bull Moose Party). He finished a distant second in Electoral and popular votes (taking 88 of the 266 electoral votes needed to win at the time). Although Ross Perot won 19 percent of the popular vote nationwide in 1992, he did not win any Electoral votes since he was not particularly strong in any one state. Any candidate who wins a majority or plurality of the popular vote nationwide has a good chance of winning in the Electoral College, but there are no guarantees (see the results of 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000 elections).
The Choice for 2012:
In some elections there hardly seems to be a difference between the two tickets and in others the two candidates and their party’s platforms could not be further apart. That is where we find ourselves this time, the election of 2012. In recent years the two parties and their platforms have generally moved farther and farther apart. America has become a ‘house’ divided which is at the heart of many of our problems. And in the election of 2012 the top of the two tickets represent two completely different philosophies of government, leadership styles and experience. Yet, had the Republicans chosen someone like Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Sarah Palin or even Ron Paul the differences would be even greater and that point should appeal to many of the Independents!
2012 is perhaps the most important election in America’s history and definitely of our lifetimes because it is a defining election. 2008 was an election that will go into the history books because it proved America had moved beyond the question whether Americans would ever elect a president of color. The race also included only the second women and first Republican woman ever to be on a National ticket. But, 2012 will be the election that will decide whether America will continue down the entitlement path, becoming a Nanny State, where Americans choose Big Brother and less individual freedom and opportunity in order to guarantee themselves benefits and cultural equality, like Europe has over the past two decades, a socialistic democracy type of system over a return to American Exceptionalism that guarantees everyone an equal playing field but not governmental mandates and guarantees of welfare or equality and is based on the foundation and documents our Founding Fathers left this country.
So before you vote, if you have not already, make sure that you really know what you are voting for.
A vote for Barack Obama, a community organizer, is a vote for more government control in every aspect of our lives. Four more years of his administration will take us from the position of strength, though waning, on the world scene to one of weakness because his style of leadership will take you and your children… and grandchildren further down the road to greater debt owed to foreign powers who will then control us which will not lead us to a domestic recovery or prosperity. The job numbers we have now or worse will become the norm and so will our dependence on the government and in-turn the government’s control over us.
A vote for Mitt Romney, a successful businessman and a man with experience in turning things around, like the failing Utah Olympics into a financial success and win for America, will turn around our economy, put Americans back to work and as the our debt declines our position in the world will be revived as number one. He will also overturn ObamaCare and will replace it with real reform… something that will work and that we can afford as a nation. He learned from Romneycare and believes in states rights and individual choice.
And another thing to consider is that we now know, thanks to a few patriotic insiders and a few reporters who are doing their job instead of promoting their political agenda, that President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, VP Joe Biden and other leaders in the Obama Administration knew in advance that a terror attack was coming on 9.11.2012; They knew that Ambassador Stevens and others at the Libya Embassy/Consulate in Benghazi were asking for more help with security because they knew they could not defend themselves against an attack, and that the aforementioned leaders watched the terror attack in ‘real-time’ on a video from fed directly from the Consulate and did nothing. Instead they actually told teams and individuals who were in a place to help, to stand down while they watched our Ambassador and his team being murdered.
Can you really trust your life and the life of your children, grandchildren and the future of this country to a Commander in Chief who watches his Ambassador and other Americans being murdered and does nothing and then lies to their families and to you, to us… the American people? What else is he lying about? Think about it before casting your vote.
23 million people are out of work, our national debt has grown to a number that most of us never could have imagined and our economy is worse under President Obama… and he has no new plan for the next four years; America cannot afford ObamaCare and there are hidden surprises in the Affordable Care Act that you won’t like… And then there is Benghazigate that Team Obama is doing their best to bury until after the election, as the Obama-Hillary foreign policy is unraveling. Will you let them ‘cool out’ your vote?
"Democracy, as well as the survival of our Republic, demands an educated and informed electorate"
Know why you are voting for the candidate, party and issue you have chosen and the truth behind the issues…
Whether Romney or Obama wins tomorrow… America will begin her journey down a new path, which path is in the American voters’ hands.
h/t to NARA – the Electoral College
- Alexander Hamilton’s design for the Electoral College in Federalist No. 68
- James Madison’s views on the republican form of government in Federalist No. 10
Search the writings of Thomas Jefferson for his views on the Presidency (especially, Letter to George Hay, August 17, 1823) at: