Choosing the President

Over 200 years ago, the founding fathers of this country decided to establish a compromise between deciding on a president through a vote in Congress and through a popular vote by the citizens. When voting through citizens, election officials count the majority in each state, and every citizen is encouraged to do so. However, most citizens understand the process of election through the Electoral College much less.

The Electoral College is made of 538 Electors. This number is established by the number of Congressmen in each state, the number of House of Representative members, plus the two members in the Senate. The District of Columbia is granted three Electors even though it does not have equal representation in Congress. A person can qualify to be an Elector if they are not serving in Congress or holding an Office of Trust or Profit.

Of the 538 Electors, there needs to be a majority of 270 votes to elect the president. They make their vote during their meeting after the election through the states.

Each state’s Electors record their votes on a “Certificate of Vote,” which is then sent to Congress and the National Archives as documentation of the election.

By December 11th, the states are to have their final decision on appointing the Electors in time for their meeting on December 17th. By December 26th, the Electors’ votes are to be completed.

In the year following, on the 6th of January, there is a joint session of Congress that tallies the votes. The current vice president will announce the results of the vote for who will be president and vice president. On the 20th of January, the President-Elect will take the oath of office and sworn into his new role.

Ever wonder how your vote matters, when the Electoral College votes in the president anyway? When you are voting for your preferred candidate, you are voting for your candidate’s political party’s Electors. This means that depending upon the majority vote in the state, the Electors will typically follow suite with the majority decided by the citizens of that state.

Depending on the state, the Electors’ names might appear under each candidate’s names. The winning candidate in each state determines the state’s Electors, however some states might have different guidelines in regards to the selection of Electors.

There is no Federal law that requires Electors to vote in concordance with their state’s majority vote. A state law can require an Elector to vote alongside the citizens’ popular vote.

According to the National Archives, “Today, it is rare for Electors to disregard the popular vote by casting their electoral vote for someone other than their party’s candidate. Throughout our history as a nation, more than 99 percent of Electors have voted as pledged.”

As a citizen of the United States, voting in the upcoming election is an important duty to determining who will be the President for the next four years.

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