There have been four presidential elections where the candidate that won the popular vote didn’t actually become president. This was because of the Electoral College. In order to win the presidency, candidates have to get a majority of the elector votes, or 270 out of the 538 possible. A state has the same number of electors as it has representatives and Senators. The minimum is three and the maximum is 54.
These electors are chosen to have the final vote in who becomes president. Once the popular vote is counted, the electors go to the state capitals and are supposed to vote for who the people chose. Washington D.C. and 26 states “bind” their electors, meaning the electors have to vote who the public votes for, or they would be faced with fines. While there have been elector votes that didn’t match with what the public voted, none of these “Faithless Voters” have made large changes in elections.
The most recent election where the Electoral College votes did not match up with the popular vote was the 2000 election. Al Gore lost to George W. Bush, with only a difference of five elector votes. Gore won the popular vote by 500,000 votes. How did this happen? The states that Bush won the popular vote in ended up having more electoral votes than the ones Gore won in. The sitting Vice President finishes the electoral meeting with announcing the president, which means that Gore had to announce that he had lost the race to Bush.
Last week, The Chicago Tribune published an article saying that Donald Trump could lose this election in the same way Gore did. In the article, they cited a calculation of NPR’s that said a candidate could have only 23% of the popular vote, but still win the Electoral College votes. Right now, it looks like Hillary Clinton has the upper hand in states with a higher number of electors.
The Electoral College is an unnecessary middleman in the voting process in the United States. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t vote. Your stance on politics won’t mean anything if you don’t vote!
This election ends on Tuesday, November 8. Be sure to get out there and vote!
By Bethany LaChance