It’s election day and we have all heard of the Electoral College. Although it is not a college where students attend to earn a degree, it holds true importance when it comes to the Presidential Election and our future. Check out these details.

It’s a fact: the winner (in the popular vote) could end up being the loser of the presidency. The parties could split the presidency and vice presidency. Both are very unlikely but possible outcomes of today’s election; we owe our thanks to the Electoral College for that.

Registered voters have the ability to express a preference for a candidate when they submit their ballots. But when voters cast their ballots, they are actually selecting electors, who are allocated in most jurisdictions though not all, on a statewide basis.

Each state gets an elector for each member of Congress and senator it has. The District of Columbia gets three. With such in place, that makes 538 total. In order for a presidential candidate to win the presidency, that candidate must take a majority of 270 or better.

Why was the Electoral College created?
The framers of the U.S. Constitution created the Electoral College as a compromise between having the people elect the president and having Congress do it. The Electoral College gives states a major stake in the contest and keeps small states engaged and participatory.

How are the electors selected?
This process varies from state to state with political parties usually nominating electors at their state conventions. Sometimes that process occurs by a vote of the party’s central committee. The electors are usually people with a strong affiliation with the Presidential candidates, state-elected officials or even party leaders.

Can someone who wins the popular vote lose the bid for the presidency?
Absolutely. A candidate could lose the popular vote and win the electoral college vote. Take for example George W. Bush in 2000. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore by .51% but won the electoral college 271 to 266.

When does the Electoral College cast its votes?
On the Monday following the second Wednesday of December is when each state’s electors meet. It is at that time that they cast their votes and those votes are sent to the President of the Senate who reads them before both houses of Congress on January 6th.

So the Electoral College is very important?
Indeed. The Electoral College determines the President and Vice-President of the United States and is a system in place that also distinguishes the United States from other systems where the highest vote-getter automatically wins. While advocates of the Electoral College say that it ensures the rights of smaller states and stands as an important piece of American federalist democracy, others argue that the Electoral College is antiquated and unfair.

Did you get that? Check out the video for additional information. Did you go and vote today?

Cicely C. Mitchell/ CBS Radio Houston


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