How candidate wins the white house in the US? The Electoral College explained.

The candidate winning the majority electoral votes in one state gets all the votes of that state except in Maine and Nebraska.

What is the way to choose the President of a country? If you think that the person getting the majority of the votes becomes the President of the USA, unfortunately, you are wrong.

The Electoral College is a way to choose the President of the United States after the presidential election vote.

It is a process where carefully selected people meet together to vote for the President. Who are these people, and what is the constitutional significance of the Electoral College? How does the system work? All of these questions require a detailed analysis.

Electoral college map

The Electoral College explained:

How does the Electoral College work?

Suppose you go to your polling station to cast your vote for the candidate of your choice. Each state has a specific number of congressional districts and the seats in the House of Representatives.

However, the number of Senate seats in all the states are equal, i.e., two per state. The electoral votes awarded to each state are the sum of the votes of both chambers of the Congress for that state.

For instance, California has 53 seats in the Lower House and two in the Upper House. This results in a total of 55 electoral votes for California. States like Wyoming, Alaska, and Vermont, along with the District of Columbia, have three electoral votes each, based on their lower population.

The total number of electoral votes in the country is 538; the number is calculated by adding up the 435 Congressional districts, 100 Senate seats, and three votes of the District of Columbia.

All the electoral votes of one state go to that presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes in that state. It is essentially a winner-take-all situation, where the winner of the popular vote wins all the Electoral College votes for that state.

This rule is applied to all the states except Maine and Nebraska, where the electoral votes are proportioned based on the popular vote. At least 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidency.

The constitutional significance of the Electoral College:

Why does the United States follow this system instead of electing the President by the popular vote?

The basis of the Electoral College can be found in the Constitution of the US, where Section 1 Article 2 Clause 2 states that “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.”

This specific method of choosing the electors has been criticized several times by the political pundits, who claim that the system has been explicitly designed in favor of the states having a larger population.

The overall process will look something like this.

Schedule of the whole process for the November 3, 2020 elections:

Nomination of electors:

First, each party will have to nominate the electors who will cast their votes for the President and Vice President. Most often, these people are the staunch supporters of the party who can be relied on by the party. Political parties have to make sure that they chose credible electors so that they must not vote for the opposite candidate.

How candidate wins the white house in the US? The Electoral College explained.

November 3, 2020:

This is the election day when Americans will vote for their favorite candidate. In most states, the name of the electors will not be present on the ballot. Instead, people will vote for the name of the presidential candidate. After the vote counting, electors belonging to the party with the majority of votes in that state will win the state, and they will get themselves ready for voting for their party’s presidential and vice-presidential nominees.

December 8, 2020:

This is the date by which all the requests for recounts in the states and all the court disputes regarding the elections need to be resolved.

December 23, 2020:

By this date, the electoral votes from all the states should reach the President of the Senate.

January 6, 2021:

Congress will meet in joint session on this date for the counting of the electoral votes.

January 20, 2021:

The candidates winning the Electoral College will become the new President of the United States. This day is also known as Inauguration day.

Exception to the electoral college:

All the states except Maine and Nebraska follow the “winner takes all” model of the electoral college.

However, this system is not applicable in the states of Maine and Nebraska. Instead, these states follow the “Congressional District Model” to award electoral votes to the candidates. According to the said model, one electoral vote will be given to the candidate who wins the popular vote in each congressional district, while the remaining two votes will be awarded to the candidate who wins the popular vote in the whole state. This way, the allocation of electoral votes in these states is different than the rest of the country.

The debate of Electoral College vs. popular vote always becomes a hot issue near the elections. Whether or not the Electoral College is an efficient way to elect the President is a separate issue, yet this method has been practiced since the beginning of the US, and all the Presidents and Vice Presidents in recent times have been elected by this approach.


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