They’re technically voting for 538 electors who, in response to the system laid out by the Structure, meet of their respective states and vote for President and Vice President. These individuals, the electors, comprise the Electoral School, and their votes are then counted by the President of the Senate in a joint session of Congress.
The stain of slavery is on the Electoral School as it’s on all US historical past. The system for apportioning congressmen, which is straight tied to the variety of electors, relied at the moment on the three/5 Compromise, whereby every slave in a state counted as fraction of an individual to apportion congressional seats. This gave states within the South with many slaves extra energy although giant parts of their populations couldn’t vote and weren’t free.

The way it works

There’s an elector for each member of the Home of Representatives (435) and Senate (100), plus a further three for individuals who stay within the District of Columbia.

Every state will get at the least three electors. California, probably the most populous state, has 53 congressmen and two senators, in order that they get 55 electoral votes.

Texas, the most important reliably Republican-leaning state, has 36 congressmen and two senators, in order that they get 38 electoral votes.

Six states — Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming — are so small, population-wise, that they solely have one congressperson apiece, and the bottom doable three electoral votes. The District of Columbia additionally will get three electoral votes. Voters in Puerto Rico and different non-state territories get no electoral votes, though they’ll participate in presidential primaries.

The states are accountable for deciding on their very own electors. And numerous states don’t require their electors to honor the election outcomes, which has led, sometimes, to the phenomenon referred to as a “faithless elector.”

It takes 270 electoral votes to get a majority of the Electoral School. The whole variety of electors — 538 — can’t change except there are extra lawmakers added on Capitol Hill or a constitutional modification. However the variety of electors allotted to every state can change each 10 years, after the constitutionally-mandated Census.

The variety of congressmen is reapportioned — that is the technical time period — in response to adjustments within the inhabitants. Some states achieve a Home seat or two and others lose some. No state, regardless of how small, can have zero members of Congress. However this is the reason there’s been heated political debate over whether or not the US Census ought to ask if somebody is a citizen. Some concern that asking it may make an correct inhabitants rely harder, or that states with many immigrants may find yourself with fewer lawmakers in elections beginning in 2022, after the 2020 Census is full.
If there is a tie among the many electors or if no person will get a majority, then the election goes to the Home of Representatives. Every state’s delegation of lawmakers will get one vote they usually select between the highest three electoral vote-getters. In line with the 12th Modification, if no person will get a majority by a sure deadline, the Vice President turns into President. If there is no majority for the Vice President, the Home delegations are excused and solely the senators select the Vice President. The 20th Modification modified the deadline from March four to January 20.
Most states (aside from Maine and Nebraska, which break up a few of their electoral votes) give all their electoral votes to the one that wins the favored vote in that state. There are very Democratic components of Texas and really Republican components of California, as an illustration. However except these states transfer to apportion their electoral votes otherwise, it’s only the state common vote that actually issues.

Who likes this method?

A well-liked vote system actually can be easier to know.

Nonetheless, as proponents of the Electoral School level out, if you happen to thought that recount in Florida in 2000 was nasty, think about a nationwide recount of greater than 130 million votes. THAT can be messy. And it may occur. Some states have automated recounts for elections which might be separated by lower than .1% In 2016, with 136 million voters, that may have been a margin of round 136,000 votes. You may think about a recount within the razor-thin election of 1960, which featured a less-than .2% distinction in vote totals, however a strong Electoral School victory for John F. Kennedy.
One of the vital vital supporters is Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, who has weighed in in opposition to the concept of a nationwide common vote effort on the Senate ground.

Some defenses of the Electoral School have a racial tinge. Former Maine Gov. Paul LePage mentioned that with out the Electoral School, white individuals can have much less say, which is sort of unhappy contemplating the three/5 Compromise helped convey in regards to the Electoral School within the first place.

“Really what would occur in the event that they do what they are saying they’re gonna do is white individuals is not going to have something to say,” LePage mentioned, in response to reviews. “It is solely going to be the minorities that may elect. It could be California, Texas, Florida. All of the small states like Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming, Montana, Rhode Island, you may by no means see a presidential candidate once more. You may by no means see anyone on the nationwide stage come to our state,” he mentioned. “We’re gonna be forgotten individuals. It is an insane, insane course of.”
However 65 p.c of People supported deciding on the President by common vote, in comparison with 32% who most popular the Electoral School in a June 2018 PRRI/Atlantic survey. There’s much less assist if the wording contains altering the Structure. A Pew survey in March of 2018 requested if People supported amending the Structure to pick the President by common vote and a smaller 55%, nonetheless a well-liked majority, endorsed the concept.

Nonetheless, the Electoral School is written into the Structure and altering the Structure could be very tough. It takes years to perform and requires broad majorities in Congress or state legislatures. States that at present profit from the Electoral School must quit a few of that energy. The different risk is one thing just like the aforementioned settlement by states to honor the nationwide common vote winner. However you may wager if that proposal takes maintain, there shall be lawsuits.

That mentioned, the Electoral School has truly modified 3 times, every by constitutional modification. The 12th Modification, handed after the tie election of 1800 (examine it!) made it in order that electors voted for President and Vice President as an alternative of voting for 2 individuals who could possibly be President. The 20th Modification put a time restrict on the method. The 23rd Modification gave electors to the District of Columbia.
And there was a severe transfer a long time in the past to abolish the Electoral School altogether. In 1968, a proposal to switch the Electoral School with a well-liked vote system simply handed within the Home. It was filibustered within the Senate.