The electoral college, usually not a very newsworthy moment in the modern age, has certainly gained a lot of press this year. The 2016 election has been nothing but unordinary, so naturally the electoral college is continuing the streak. With Hillary Clinton winning the overall popular vote and President-elect Donald Trump winning the electoral college vote many people have been calling for reform or doing away with the electoral college vote in general.
What Is It?
In each presidential year a group of electors are nominated in each state and are the ones who ultimately cast the vote for the President and Vice President based off of the votes of the people in their state. They are pledged and expected to vote for the people their state voted for in majority, but are not required. A majority of the votes, 270 out of 538, are needed in order to win. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, then the Presidential vote goes to the House of Representatives and the Vice President vote goes to the Senate. The number of electors each state gets are based on the population of the state and the electors are chosen by the voters.
Why Was is Put In Place?
The electoral college and popular vote were put into place so that both state and federal issues were represented in the vote as well as make sure that smaller states still had power and were taken into account. It also keeps the vote separate from congress and prevents the election process from political manipulation. The qualifications for electors is broad, as long as they are not part of the senate or the republic or are persons “holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States.”
This year, 2016, the electoral vote was held on December 19th and congress will meet on January 6th to count the electoral votes. New York’s 29 electors gathered, including former president Bill Clinton. Hillary won her state of residence’s vote despite losing the overall election and Bill Clinton said that “he never cast a vote he was more proud of.” Some of the electors that gathered called for the an abolishment of the electoral college altogether.
The senate and house will meet in the house chambers and Vice President Joe Biden will then announce the winners of the vote. After that, Mr. Biden will announce if there are any objections and lawmakers can challenge either individual or state results. So if an elector went against the vote of the state, it can be petitioned to be thrown out.
Objections must be in writing and signed by at least one house and one senate representative. The House and Senate will then immediately split up and can discuss this for two hours to decide if they support it or not. If both house and senate agree with the objection they will throw out the votes in question.
Although the electoral vote has been challenged many times in the past it has yet to be replaced. Many protesters have been gathering outside of the capitol to urge electors in other states to vote for Clinton or another candidate, even if their states voted for Trump.