So we we went to the polls today to reelect our current, or elect a brand new, President of the United States, right?
No, we did not! We have this thing in the U.S. called the Electoral College (a process, not a place). It was established by the founding fathers in the U.S. 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.
So we went to the polls today to select ELECTORS, who will in turn meet (state by state) to vote for the President and Vice President. The electoral votes of each state are then sent to be counted by Congress. Then and only then is the "official" winner declared.
Ignore the Obama/Romney color code, as this map didn't translate to the blog with color. The number of electors each state house is determined by population/representation in Congress.
Of course, we will know soon (we hope) which candidate received the most Electoral votes, thanks to the news media tally, but it won't be official until January.
State Electors are generally chosen by the candidate's political party, and are committed to remain loyal. But there have been cases in the past when they have not.
Most states require Electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states. Most states have a “winner-take-all” system that awards all electors to the top "vote-getter" in that state.
Are you still with me?
The odd thing about this system is that a candidate could win the popular vote but loose the election because the other candidate captured the majority of the Electoral vote. It has happened before.
For instance, in 2000, George W. Bush won the Electoral College vote following the recount in Florida. But Al Gore received more popular votes — about 540,000 more than Bush nationally but Bush got more Electoral votes.
So what are the advantages of the Electoral College and why do we keep it?
I searched around for further explanation of the pros and cons of the Electoral system of electing the President, and the most understandable one I found is
The Prodigal. This guy explains it better than I can. Go read it and you will find the pro and con arguments for keeping/dismantling it.
Is it any wonder that people around the world -- make that even people here in the U.S. -- find our political system so confusing??
What are your thoughts?