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How We Elect the President – Not as Easy as Counting the Votes

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Al right, get ready to have your little voting world rocked with the way that the Presidential race is really determined. Unlike every other elected office, the president is not elected on the principle of “one man – one vote.”

Our founding fathers threw a little wrench into the system called the Electoral College. Your vote, instead of being counted in a national total of popular votes, will be counted at the state level with the candidate receiving the most votes in the state getting the electoral votes for the state. That’s right, it’s election middle men.

These middle men are usually all-or-nothing. In most cases, all of the electoral votes for each state will go to the candidate that wins that state.

More than likely all 11 of he Indiana Electoral College votes will go to Mitt Romney as we are traditionally a “Red State.” This is why we saw minimal campaigning from the presidential candidates. They have instead invested their time an effort into the swing states like Ohio that could, by the narrowest of margins, go to either candidate.

Twenty-seven states have laws on the books that require electors to vote for their party’s candidate if that candidate gets a majority of the state’s popular vote. In 24 states, no such laws apply, but common practice is for electors to vote for their party’s nominee.

What if nobody gets a majority of Electoral College votes?

The election would be determined by the House of Representatives. Each state casts one vote and whoever wins a majority of states wins the election.

To make it even more complicated, the Senate would determine who becomes Vice President. Making it possible for different parties to be represented in the two highest executive offices.

Has the Hose of Representatives had to determine the outcome of an election?

It happened in 1801 and again in 1824.

Can you lose the popular vote and still become President?

It happened to George W. Bush in 2000, who lost the popular vote to Al Gore by .51% but won the electoral college 271 to 266.

It also happened in 1876 when  Samuel Tilden beat Rutherford B. Hayes in the popular vote but there were some disputed electoral votes and a negotiated deal gave the win to the Republican, Rutherford Hayes.

In 1888, incumbent Grover Cleveland won the popular vote, but lost to Indiana’s Bejamin Harrison in the electoral votes.

There has been talk from time to time about changing the system and allowing the popular vote to determine the President. But those who support the Electoral College say that it helps balance the power between states. Without the Electoral College, a president could be elected who has a very strong following in a few very populace states. They also state that the intended purpose for the founding fathers maintains a federal system of government representation by provided for a very structured method for determining outcomes.

Have we completely confused you now? I know that this whole thing is more complicated than I can handle. Excuse me now while I go cast my vote.

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