Why Does the United States Use the Electoral College Instead of a Simple Vote Count When Deciding the Next President?

Mike C. asks: Why don’t we use the popular vote to pick the president?

American-FlagOn December 13, 2000,  Vice President Al Gore conceded the presidential election to Governor Bush. A day earlier, a lengthy and expensive manual vote recount process in Florida was stopped by the United States Supreme Court despite Bush leading by only 537 votes. With Bush winning the state’s 25 electoral votes, it gave him 275 electoral votes and put him over the needed threshold.

This election result was highly unusual, not just because of Supreme Court decisions and hanging chads. It was also only the fourth time in United States history that a candidate had garnered a majority of the popular votes but lost the election- Gore received 50,996,582 votes and Bush 50,456,062. Bush won because of the Electoral College system – a much maligned and complex way of determining the future leader of America. How does it work? Why does America use the Electoral College? Why isn’t a simple vote count good enough to determine the president of the United States of America?

To begin with, contrary to popular belief, when Americans go to the polls to seemingly vote for the next president of the United States, they are, in fact, not actually voting for the president. Rather, they are casting a vote for a group of electors who will then vote for the president as they see fit. To reduce any chance of confusion, rather than having people explicitly vote for electors on the ballot, the presidential candidate a given group of electors is pledged to vote for is put on the ballot instead.

Another common misconception about presidential voting in the United States is that the president is elected once the general public’s votes are tallied up. Again, because the general public does not technically vote for a president, but rather on which Electoral College representatives will get to vote for president, the president isn’t officially elected until the following January. Specifically, on January 6th the current vice president opens voting during a Joint Session of Congress. It’s during this session that electoral votes are tallied, with the deadline for those to be submitted being in late December. This may seem to be something of a technicality, but there are many completely legal scenarios in which a different president may be chosen than the one who appears to have won after the general public has cast their ballots for electors. (More on a couple of these scenarios in a bit.)

So who are these voters that actually elect the president and how are they chosen? There are only two federal laws that pertain to who can be an elector. The first one comes from Article II of the Constitution, which states that “no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust… shall be appointed an Elector.” The second is a provision buried in the 14th amendment that says any state official that was involved in an insurrection or rebellion against America is also barred from being an elector. (You can thank the Civil War for that one.) Beyond those two restrictions, anyone can be an elector.

As for who ends up being an elector, that depends on the political parties and how a given state legislature sets the method of selection. But in a nutshell, each state’s political parties nominate a group of electors who are extremely loyal to their respective parties. Their number is equal to the number of electoral votes the state has, which in turn is equal to the number of senators (two per state) and number of representatives (determined by population) said state has, or in the case of the District of Columbia, a set three electors (thanks to the 23rd Amendment).

There is also potentially one additional minor caveat to consider when the party selects its groups of electors- an elector cannot vote for a vice president and president who both are from the elector’s home state. This rule was meant to ensure an elector could not vote for two of their state’s “favorite sons”. (More on why this was considered so important in a bit.) Today, this is obviously not an issue for anyone so long as the presidential candidate picks a vice presidential candidate from another state than their own.

On election day, whichever political party’s candidate, be it Republican, Democratic or a third party, wins the majority of the state’s votes, that slate of electors becomes the ones who get to vote for the president in their respective state. For example, in 2012, Californians voted for the 55 party-selected Democrats who in turn all cast their 55 votes for the Obama/Biden ticket.

(Note: there are currently two exceptions to this all-or-nothing approach- Maine and Nebraska; they both use a district system. In this system, the state’s popular majority is accounted for in some electors’ votes, but others vote based on congressional district’s popular majority within the state. This can potentially result in a splitting of the votes.  For instance, in 2008, Nebraska ended up with four Republican electors and one Democrat.)

However, as previously alluded to, to make this even more confusing and convoluted, there are no federal laws or Constitutional provisions that require electors to cast their vote in accordance with the state’s popular vote result. There are some state laws, however, pertaining to this; 29 states (and the District of Columbia) have laws that require the electors vote the way the popular vote has instructed them too.

That said, penalties are not too severe in most cases- failure to adhere to these state laws by so-called “faithless electors” could result in a fine or replacement as an elector. That also leaves 21 states that do not have such laws, allowing electors to vote as they see fit instead of how the general public directed them too. It turns out, this seems to have been what the founders intended.

It should be noted here that, according to the National Archives, more than 99% of the time electors have voted as instructed and no elector has ever been prosecuted or punished for failing to vote in accordance with the popular vote of their respective states.  However, there have been 22 times involving 179 electoral votes that faithless electors have bucked the system. The most recent was in 2004 when an elector apparently accidentally voted for John “Ewards,” rather than the Democratic nominee John Kerry. (John Edwards was Kerry’s running-mate in that election.) Another notable recent instance was in 2000 when a DC elector abstained from voting in protest over the District’s lack of representation in Congress.

Despite the occasional faithless elector, to date, none of these faithless votes has ever been the deciding vote in an election. However, there have been elections where a single faithless elector could have decided the president, such as in 1876 when Rutherford B. Hayes, despite losing the popular vote, won 185 electoral votes vs. 184 to Samuel Tilden.

So, why does the United States use the somewhat convoluted Electoral College when a popular vote would be drastically simpler and more democratic? In short, it was a necessary compromise from a time when the “united states” were not bound nearly as cohesively as today, nor the general public very well educated on the whole or well informed about the various candidates.

For the more detailed answer, the Electoral College dates back to 1787’s Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, where they were given the gargantuan task of figuring out a solution to the mostly ineffective Articles of Confederation. Among the many issues that needed resolving was how the president of United States was to be elected.

In order to understand the delegates’ thought process, context is needed. The young country was only 13 states and residents were generally extremely provincial, meaning they still trusted their own state more than the federal government. Further, in many cases people identified more as a citizen of their state, rather than a citizen of the United States first.

From this, the founders were concerned that citizens of each state would put their own best interest before the nation’s. On top of this, because each state’s citizens would likely know their own candidates much better than candidates from other states (most of whom they probably wouldn’t even have ever heard of), they were doubly likely to vote for their own candidates. The ultimate result of this was feared to be that the winner of each state would likely be a citizen of that state, who would in turn have little chance of winning, or even garnering any support at all, in other states.

This brings us to the first option put on the table- election via popular vote. While more democratic, as mentioned, delegates were very concerned that each state would potentially elect their own candidate, making it difficult to ever get a candidate with wide support throughout the nation. Instead, they feared they’d be left with a field of many “favorite sons.”

Among these favorite sons, the bigger states – like Virginia – would dominate, resulting in little chance of someone from a smaller state ever becoming president, and making it so Virginia’s interests would be disproportionately represented in the nation’s highest office. For reference, at the time, Virginia had 424,000 men eligible to vote, which was more than Georgia, Delaware, South Carolina, Rhode Island and New Hampshire combined.

The other major option proposed was a simple Congressional appointment. Despite being inherently non-democratic, there was a thought that the president should be less powerful than Congress and, therefore, needed to be dependent on them. Also, the thinking went, the general public was largely extremely poorly educated and poorly politically informed. Congressional members, on the other hand, were not only already elected to represent their respective citizens in such matters, but were also intimately familiar with prospective presidential candidates, their character, work ethic, political leanings, etc. and were generally quite well educated relative to most people. Thus, in a nutshell, members of Congress were simply the most qualified to pick the most qualified president.

Ultimately this proposal lost because it threatened the checks and balances of the federal government. As then delegate and future President James Madison noted,

[T]he election of the Chief Magistrate would agitate & divide the legislature so much that the public interest would materially suffer by it. Public bodies are always apt to be thrown into contentions, but into more violent ones by such occasions than by any others. [T]he candidate would intrigue with the Legislature, would derive his appointment from the predominant faction, and be apt to render his administration subservient to its views.

Essentially- if the president was elected by Congress, while in theory Congress at the time may well have been in a much better position to pick the best president, those who sought the office would be constantly campaigning and trying to impress those members, perhaps even giving favors upon election in exchange for votes. Beyond this, no president interested in getting re-elected could ever oppose Congress for fear they wouldn’t re-elect him or her later. Needless to say, this system was ripe for extreme corruption. So while in theory Congress was best suited to pick the potential best president, in practice they’d likely not have done so, or if they did, lorded too much power over that individual.

Thus, the Committee of Eleven on Postponed Matters devised and proposed the Electoral College, a system the delegates ultimately approved. Alexander Hamilton noted of the Electoral College, “…if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent.”

As to what “the manner of it” actually was intended to be- the idea here was essentially something of a cross between a popular vote and congressional selection- it was democratic in the sense that the popular vote could potentially determine the state’s allegiance (in the beginning state legislatures didn’t all do it this way), but it also limited the larger states’ influence slightly by awarding extra votes to smaller states via an elector for each of their senatorial representatives.

As for why it was also partially a compromise for those who advocated for a congressional selection, in a time before political parties in the United States, there is evidence that the founders very much assumed the electors, who explicitly could not “hold an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States” (to avoid at least some of the aforementioned corruption potential), would not be bound by the popular vote in their state or party affiliation or any such similar device.

In fact, in the earliest elections, over half the states’ legislatures selected their presidential electors with no regard for public vote, a right state legislatures still technically retain, but is a practice that died swiftly around the turn of the 19th century.

Beyond potentially disregarding popular vote in selecting which group of electors gets to vote for president, if a given state legislature really wanted to, they could even decide to pick a group of electors via something completely arbitrary like putting a bunch of mice in a maze, one representing each person who ran for president, with the winning mouse determining which group of electors is chosen.

Of course, no state legislature would dream of doing something so outlandish. However, several state legislatures have very recently begun banding together to use their elector picking power to potentially disregard their own citizen’s popular choice (more on this in a bit).

In any event, by 1790, along with the rest of the Constitution, the Electoral College was ratified by all 13 states and has in the vast majority of cases resulted in little controversy or public outcry for a change to the original system. In fact, the Electoral College has undergone only a few small changes since 1790.

The most significant change occurred following the election of 1800. At the time, each elector would cast two votes, one for one presidential candidate and one for another. The person with the most votes became president, and the person with the second most became vice president. This ensured that, at least in theory, the second most qualified individual was vice president- ready to step in should something happen to the most qualified person- the president.

Today the person who potentially would step in should something happen to the president is not selected by members of the Electoral College, nor even by the citizens of the United States, but rather by the president- the most undemocratic selection of all. As Senator Samuel White of Delaware noted when this switch was made, the vice president is now chosen, not based on the individual’s qualifications for that office, but rather by if “he by his name, by his connections, by his wealth, by his local situation, by his influence, or his intrigues, best promote the election of a president…”

So what spurred the change in the Electoral College, no easy thing to do given that it requires an amendment to the Constitution? Mainly the rise of political parties. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were both vying for the presidency, with each having their preferred vice president within their own party- something of a new concept. This was a problem if all electors for a given party ended up voting for both individuals, for instance, Thomas Jefferson and his proposed vice president, Aaron Burr. If this happened, they’d both be tied for president.

It happened.

What followed was 36 rounds of voting within the House to try to break the tie (the opposing party members muddied things up by voting for Burr just to attempt to see their most hated rival, Jefferson, defeated). There were even threats of militia’s forming to march on the capital to push for Jefferson, before Jefferson, who was always understood to be his party’s choice for president over Burr, was chosen.

In the aftermath, the 12th amendment was passed. This said that each elector got two votes, as before, but instead of both votes being for a potential president, one would be for president and the other for vice-president, thus creating little chance that a vice-presidential candidate could be elected president. (Little chance, because, as VEEP illustrated, it can still happen).

Other than that, over two hundred years later, the Electoral College is still essentially the same process as it was on day one. While today it’s a bit outdated given American attitudes concerning federal and state allegiances, it is a process that has survived in no small part because it’s both relatively difficult to amend the U.S. Constitution and, on the whole, the system has worked pretty well, not garnering nearly as much controversy as it would need to spur a Constitutional change.

All that said, following the highly controversial 2000 election between Bush and Gore, there have been attempts to tweak the Electoral College system without the need for amending the Constitution. How would this be possible? It all comes down to the fact that states are allowed to select their electors however they see fit, not just based on a winner-take-all popular vote selection.

Towards this end, several bills have been proposed in various states to tweak the elector selection. In most cases, these bills looked to switch to a district system, rather than a winner-take-all.  To date, little has come of these, as most who oppose the Electoral College want a nation-wide popular vote system, which on the surface would seem to require a Constitutional Amendment… or would it?

It turns out there is a way around this, too, via the National Popular Vote system. This is a clever proposal in which each state that joins agrees to give all its Electoral College votes to whatever candidate wins the national popular vote, rather than their particular state-level popular vote. In some cases, this may well mean a state’s legislature would go against its own citizen’s popular vote in selecting electors.

Currently 11 states have pledged to this system, for a total of 165 electoral votes.  If 105 more electoral votes are pledged (making for a total of 270), the system will take effect and the United States, while still using the Electoral College system, will begin electing its president via electors based on the national popular vote- no Constitutional amendment required.

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Bonus Facts:

  • Some have argued that the idea of the Electoral College giving extra power to small states has worked out a little too well.  Today many use the Electoral College as the reason they will not vote- they already know how their state is going to vote. Thus, it’s essentially really just a handful of often small swing states that ultimately decide the president. (Of course, if everyone who used this reasoning did vote, there may well be a lot more swing states.)
  • Concerning the idea that many people don’t vote because they think their vote doesn’t count in their respective state,  swing states see about 25% higher voting per capita than their more predictable neighbors.
  • Beyond electors in many cases being free to disregard the popular vote within their state, if they so choose, another scenario in which a candidate who appears to have won the presidency based on elector votes can ultimately not be elected is if some prominent candidate resigns or dies before the electoral votes are cast or counted.  In this scenario, it’s not clear at all what the electors who are obliged to vote for that dead or resigning candidate would or should do. They could well switch their votes to any of the remaining candidates, potentially changing who gets elected. This may seem like an outlandish scenario, but it happened before in the case of Horace Greeley and the 1872 presidential election. Luckily this wasn’t too much of an issue as he garnered only 63 votes, with most of these electors intentionally voting for non-candidates to nullify their votes, and the few who still voted for Greeley having their votes thrown out by Congress.
  • Yet another way the result of an election might change from when Americans elect electors to when the electors elect the president concerns a power congress has. You see, members of congress may object to certain electoral votes, or even an entire state’s worth of votes.  If this happens, and at least one Representative and one Senator sign the objection, the Joint Session goes into recess while the objection is considered for no more than two hours.  A vote is then held within each house, and then the two groups get back together to let each other know how they each decided on the matter. If both chambers agree to the objection, the votes in question are not counted at all. To date, this has never happened, though there have been two incidents, 1969 and 2005, where an objection was recorded and voted upon. But in both cases the objection was ultimately rejected.
  • There are almost five million American citizens that have no say in which Electoral College electors are selected- these are people who live in U.S. territories, including those who were born in a U.S. state but moved to a territory.  In contrast, if you’re born in a U.S. state and move to another country altogether, you can usually still vote, with your ballot cast in the last state you lived in.
  • Beyond the Bush/Gore popular vote fiasco, the other incidents where a person won the popular vote, but did not win the Presidency were- Andrew Jackson winning the popular vote, but losing the election to John Quincy Adams. (Adams was selected as president by the House of Representatives in 1824 after an Electoral College deadlock.) Samuel Tilden won the popular vote against Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, but was not elected president. Finally, Grover Cleveland won the popular vote over Benjamin Harrison in 1888. With the exception of Tilden and Gore, the others on the list at one point or another did get to serve as president.
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  • I was going to say–future President Ronald Reagan won one electoral vote in the 1976 general election, and he wasn’t even nominated (although he came close during the primaries and convention phase of the process). Those who study the electoral process in the United States should keep such events in mind!

  • 2000 was not highly unusual.

    Because of the state-by-state winner-take-all electoral votes laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) and (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states),in 48 states, a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in 4 of the nation’s 57 (1 in 14 = 7%) presidential elections. The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes is highlighted by the fact that a difference of a few thousand voters in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 15 presidential elections since World War II. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 7 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012). 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 (1,000 times more) popular votes nationwide.
    A difference of 60,000 voters in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.

    After the 2012 election, Nate Silver calculated that “Mitt Romney may have had to win the national popular vote by three percentage points on Tuesday to be assured of winning the Electoral College.”

  • When Americans vote, they are casting a vote for a group of electors who will then vote for the president they are pledged to vote for.

    Now 48 states have winner-take-all state laws for awarding electoral votes, 2 have district winner laws. Neither method is mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.

    The electors are and will be dedicated party activist supporters of the winning party’s candidate who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

    The current system does not provide some kind of check on the “mobs.” There have been 22,991 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast in a deviant way, for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party (one clear faithless elector, 15 grand-standing votes, and one accidental vote). 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome.

    States have enacted and can enact laws that guarantee the votes of their presidential electors

    The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors).

  • The Electoral College system has undergone HUGE changes since 1790.

    The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes used by 2 states, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by states of winner-take-all or district winner laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    In 1789, in the nation’s first election, the people had no vote for President in most states. And in the few where they could, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote. Eventually, state laws gave the people the right to vote for President in all 50 states and DC.

    The Electoral College is now the set of 538 dedicated party activists we vote for, who vote as rubberstamps for presidential candidates. In the current presidential election system. Also not what the Founders envisioned.

    Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

    As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years.

    The current winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the U.S. Constitution. It was not debated at the Constitutional Convention. It is not mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It was not the Founders’ choice. It was used by only three states in 1789, and all three of them repealed it by 1800. It is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method. The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes became dominant only in the 1830s, when most of the Founders had been dead for decades, after the states adopted it, one-by-one, in order to maximize the power of the party in power in each state.

  • With the National Popular Vote bill, the state legislature would not be selecting electors.
    The winner of the national popular vote would determine the electors of the enacting states.
    All of the 270+ presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

    States not enacting the bill would award their electors however they want.

  • If some prominent candidate resigns or dies before the electoral votes are cast or counted, it is clear what the electors would do.

    A “presidential slate” is defined as a slate of two persons, the first of whom has been nominated as a candidate for President of the United States and the second of whom has been nominated as a candidate for Vice President of the United States, or any legal successors to such persons, regardless of whether both names appear on the ballot presented to the voter in a particular state;

  • One thing the Electoral College system does that should not be underestimated is prevent national recounts. In Bush/Gore the national margin of victory was a fraction of one percent. Imagine the complications if a national recount had happened instead of merely a Florida recount.

    That said, reforming the College system by removing the small state skewing would make the process fairer.

    • The current presidential election system makes a repeat of 2000 more likely. All you need is a thin and contested margin in a single state with enough electoral votes to make a difference. It’s much less likely that the national vote will be close enough that voting irregularities in a single area will swing enough net votes to make a difference. If we’d had National Popular Vote in 2000, a recount in Florida would not have been an issue.

      The idea that recounts will be likely and messy with National Popular Vote is distracting.

      No statewide recount, much less a nationwide recount, would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 57 presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.
      The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.
      “It’s an arsonist itching to burn down the whole neighborhood by torching a single house.” Hertzberg

      The 2000 presidential election was an artificial crisis created because of Bush’s lead of 537 popular votes in Florida. Gore’s nationwide lead was 537,179 popular votes (1,000 times larger). Given the minuscule number of votes that are changed by a typical statewide recount (averaging only 274 votes); no one would have requested a recount or disputed the results in 2000 if the national popular vote had controlled the outcome. Indeed, no one (except perhaps almanac writers and trivia buffs) would have cared that one of the candidates happened to have a 537-vote margin in Florida.

      Recounts are far more likely in the current system of state by-state winner-take-all methods.

      The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

      The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

      We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and is prepared to conduct a recount.

      Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years with the National Popular Vote. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

      The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

      The common nationwide date for meeting of the Electoral College has been set by federal law as the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. With both the current system and the National Popular Vote, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a “final determination” prior to the meeting of the Electoral College. In particular, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their “final determination” six days before the Electoral College meets.

    • “Imagine the complications if a national recount had happened instead of merely a Florida recount.”

      size of territory doesn’t matter just get more counters

  • bonni✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ

    Is This Communism at it’s best???????? sure looks like it to me.. That’s why Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush won’t back Trump …?

    • No. They won’t back Trump because they’re afraid to not toe the party line and because Trump isn’t really a Republican.

  • The electoral college is a joke at best and a ‘rigged system’ at worst (ala Trump). I live in CA and even though I prefer to vote Republican, my states electoral votes have traditionally gone Dem. My vote really doesn’t count. Never has and never will until the system is changed. Now, I actually voted for Obummer in ’08 because I believed his cock and bull about change. In ’12, it was Romney for me but my vote did nothing. Absolutely nothing. To make things even less balanced, CA has one Electoral vote for every 696,000+ people. ONE PERSON REPRESENTS NEARLY 700,000 PEOPLE! In Wyoming, each Electoral vote represents 194,000 folks. Each vote, every single one of the 538 votes has the same amount of power as the next. How is it fair that one person represents so many people…. 696,000 of ’em. My vote just does not matter.

    • Ummm…even with a popular vote for President your vote won’t count because you live in a hard blue state that rarely votes any other way so changing the system accomplishes nothing for you. The only thing that changes anything for you is if the majority of California voters suddenly take a hard swing to the right, and that’s not likely to happen.

      • Not entirely. The problem with the Electoral joke beyond the fact that these are the votes that actually elect the Prez., is that it is a winner take all system. Getting rid of the Electoral College would open it up to the popular vote only, which is what it should be anyway. No more winner take all. So, even if Clinton won 75% of this year’s vote, Trumps would still carry 25%, or roughly 10 million votes (there are quite a few of us Red siders here in the Sunshine State). Right now, with the current system, he gets zero support from CA. The current system really is rigged to the point that none of our votes make a bit of difference in electing the Prez.

        • popular vote would not be good. It would only require like 5 states to win. Never a good thing for the masses. You want to see people pissed off even more. Show them they truly don’t matter at least right now it is somewhat smoke and mirrors. Imagine all the small states which just happen to be the bread basket hold out on cali and ny for food supply. We are united states, not unanimous people.

          • The election should not be made a state by state system. No advantage at all regarding state size. Only the majority can pick the next prez. I believe this is what the founders must have envisioned for the future.

          • No they did not by any means. They knew what it would do. In fact it was changed FOR THE VERY REASON YOU PROPOSE. The power of one state over many. Again one state holds over 1/3 the registered voters to get the majority election. So basically one state can literally control the entire thing. NO. As well we can point to all the founding fathers who would NEVER allow that. Again you wanna see the states that hold the true bread power shove it down the throat of the fuck bunny states….

          • My suggestions would hold everyone accountable for their own vote as if the states did not exist. We should vote as, like you said, a United States and not as individual states. As for our forefathers, I understand what you are saying as to their intentions in the 18th century where most Americans were illiterate but times have changed. The Electoral College has become too damn powerful as it now represents everyone at an average of something like 1 vote per 300,000 voters. Like any system it has become way to corrupt with members getting cherry picked and even taking bribes. It was shown to be a problem in 2000 with that idiot Gore and is really going to rear its ugly head this year.

          • Corrupt talk…yet want one state to hold more than 1/3rd the voting power….you seriously are side stepping how HORRIBLE that is. Also while yes we are a different education…we are not ‘smarter’ than the education line of comparable time. States are more than needed to make sure power is not consolidated. What is good for Cali…is not good for another state. So the peoples vote should stay with that state. You talk of corruption yet side step how true democracies of one vote per person is even worse all over the world. Not a single great country votes this way.

          • Where are you getting 1/3rd from? I’m guessing you’re referencing Cali. There are 33 million folks in Cali. That’s 10% of the US pop and only 12 million out of 23 eligible voters voted in ’12. If everyone’s vote counted, these numbers would go up and Conservatives like me would vote because my vote would actually count. There are at least 5-10 million of us in Cali that are never considered due to the winner takes all system right now. If you were not talking about Cali, then where?

          • California had a 25million eligible voters. 17.9million turned out in 2012 for general election and 12 million in the president race. More people will show up if they do a 1v1. 17.9million was 72% of eligible voters that casted a vote. Now we can certainly adjust that to say if every vote counted that up to 22million would vote. Going off 2012 voting numbers where 61% voted for Obama…who get 13.42million votes for a democrat. 13.42million votes is 1/5 needed on a national turnout of 129million voters out of the 146 eligible to vote. The same percent ratio I used in Cali to get 22 out of 25. So 13.42million votes for democrats…1/5 the voting power. More counted votes than 45 states entire population count. Only 5 states have more than 13million in it…not registered voters….every man woman and child in the state. So no. Also 25million is the 1/3 the number of votes needed…so they would control 1/3 the number of votes. This is why we don’t give 1v1 vote for a National vote. We are united states. The states represent the people. We a re a republic. That single fact alone is all that is needed to say no to a 1v1 system.

          • Man, this is getting confusing. This conversation started because I am for a one person one vote system. Mainly because, even if 17 million eligible folks voted in Cali, quite a few would vote red which is something that isn’t even considered right now with the EC system. We are not heard at all in Cali for the Prez. As for 1/5th. Perhaps you are right but how much would those red votes count towards the majority wins totals? Right now, if you have 55 Electoral votes, in my bizarre state, representing all 24ish million voters and only 28 are needed for the entire state to go blue, what about the voice of those represented by the 27 (rough numbers just to make a point)? How is this fair? People are beginning to understand how bad this current system is and that it needs to be changed. Now, I am not a Trump supporter as you may believe. I can’t stand the guy, but, he is the precipice that we need for the current political system to fall over and die. I will not vote for the Prez (I will for the general elec.) because I just don’t matter. How is this fair in a democratic system? If you have a solution other than the status quo, please, give it up.

          • This isn’t the status quo. Large states and its interest in a 1v1 vote would override the say of smaller states. Despite living in a connected world where ny to Cali seems so small…there are VAST differences. Hence why states are literally self governed and belong to a whole…united states. Meaning the person in Cali does not speak for the person in another state. And a 1v1 violates our founding republic. Yes we are a republic not a pure democracy. Now in a 1v1 state and majority takes all….you forget a majority doesn’t have to be 51%. In a 1to1 voting system or true democracy. That means the voting power of a few states now greatly out weighs the power of lesser states. Some states while low in number of people can starve out the entire nation, Iowa has 6 votes…yet produces 3 times the amount of corn as the entire country of Mexico. Now they account for less than 1% of the population….but their vote accounts for 2% of the votes needed to win the electoral college. A good thing. Because they are choosing for the state…not the USA. The USA is on a single law nor single entity. As a result it it state based. Again this keeps coming back that we are states. Individuals that vote for state interests first and foremost. So the office that will oversea the states…..needs the same state representation. Not people representation. Also this talk about red vs blue…cali was red for nearly a hundred years only voting blue a few times. So the red voice was heard plenty. Now it is the blues turn. I don’t care if you support trump or not, I rather have home than the child rapist support of Clinton anyday. However…there is a third option…gary. And he did good for NM for many years a state that knows it cant spend trillions to make the union thugs happy.

          • -Wow, Doc. You really seemed informed. I appreciate that you not just talking out your ass like so many on the ‘net do. My counter to you’re NM example is that they aren’t all that heard either in comparison to Cali. 2 votes as compared to 55 guaranteed to go blue? 28 NMs to equal one Cali is not a good bet. If the people had a voice in Cali or even if they got rid of the winner take all bs in the EC, states like NM would have a greater voice. Traditionally, most of the states are red but the blue have the most Electoral votes due to the winner take all system. How is this fair? Even if we keep the EC, why not base it on the real feelings of each district? Here’s something I just learned. Maine and Nebraska practice ‘Proportional Representation’ where the votes are given based on how the voters actually feel and not the winner takes all crap in most states. I would love to see a time when Cali Republican voters could actually be heard. Do you really think the current system is just? Hillary is most likely going to win this election based on the EC and partly on the guaranteed 55 out of Cali. If she only got, say, 30 of the votes then things would be different but as it is, that ‘child rapist supporter’ is going to win.
            -As for the third option…Gary Johnson has no chance in this election. Zero. You know that and I know that. Someday, maybe we’ll finally stop with the 2 party sh*t but come November, there is only 2 that have any chance at all.
            -Personally, I am registered Independent but will be changing that to Classical Libertarian so I would support a guy like Gary. Unfortunately, this year’s election is about the fallible two. That is why our current system does not work.
            -As for the illiterate Americans of the past. Perhaps I should have said uninformed.

          • A splitable electoral college would be best probably to reflect more of the voting populace. I to do not like winner takes all. Another side of the electoral college was to make sure the populace didn’t go full on crazy and elect someone that could damage the country…like a dictator. Hence why any penalty to go against the winner take all is like 5k, no jail. I would propose for a state like Cali that has 55, that 45 are spit to the percentage. Like 61% for Obama would be 27.45, always round up…always. So 28 for Obama, 17 red. And the next ten are freebies for how they see fit. No law should require a full winner takes all. So for NM that has like 5, 2 for majority party, 1 for minority party, and 2 up for grabs. This way it represents a peoples voice while keeping intact the voice of electorates that should have the power to override the people or go along with them.

          • Yay!!!! We agreed on something. Go Trump! (Lord, I hate saying that)

          • What sets me easy about trump is his money. Why? Rich in the country know that they cannot bleed it dry, squeeze it…sure. But his money is tied into expendable income. Entertainment. The poor do not spend a ton on that. His personal holdings are reliant on a stable economy one that favors the rich and middle class. So his best interest is to make sure his billions do not dry up under a weak economy. Hilary on the other hand has no money tied into direct economy. Anything she does, doesn’t touch her money one bit. To me that is more scary. Also donalds interest expands beyond the boarder for a stable dollar and decent trade…hillary has none of it. So the best defense when someone mocks that vote…is the one above. He has something to loose…she doesn’t.

          • Well said. Although, Hillary will have something to lose if she loses this election…her sanity. From what I understand, this woman is a poor loser.

          • Is majority vote still not winner-take-all? You get 51% of the popular vote and to hell with the rest of the country. The way the party lines are divided now, that means you can say to hell with the majority of the states. 49% of Americans and the majority of the Union wouldn’t be represented…
            It seems to be what you’re complaining about on a much bigger scale. You don’t like that you’re not represented in California because worst come to worst 51% of the population could decide that your vote means nothing and they could carry everything in it. So to fix your vote meaning nothing, you want to do the exact same thing on a much larger scale, no? I fail to see how that fixes the problem. We need better than a first-past-the-post voting whether it be for the president or for the electoral votes.

          • all of europe votes that way, idiot

          • Spain, France, Germany, Italy…but I mean you could have searched your own online, I mean you have the internet, but then again they let ‘any’ idiot on it. Perhaps your teacher can show you how to search on ‘google’.

        • Trump 2016 from cali here

      • You TOTALLY miss the point. In a direct vote for President, EVERY vote matters the same, whether you live in a so-called “battleground” state like Michigan or Pennsylvania, or a hard-“blue” state (like California or New York) or hard-“red” state (like Utah or Mississippi). With the electoral college, due to each state’s (with two exceptions) electoral votes being winner-take-all, those persons who live in a hard-blue or red state have NO chance of influencing the outcome with their vote. In other words, with direct election of the President, state boundaries are basically irrelevant in the election. And I think that THIS is what scares conservatives so much about the prospect of abolishing the electoral college–they worry that it will undermine “states’ rights” and increase the power of the federal government vis-a-vis states. In my opinion, this fear is largely unfounded.

  • The Electoral College was instituted because many of the voting population when this nation was founded were of low or zero formal education or political acumen. Many of the politicians believed they wouldn’t be able to make such an important decision on their own and shouldn’t be trusted to do so.

  • one person one vote. most fair system, most equal system. tho nothing really matters in a two party system this corrupt.

    • no it is the system that allows one state to control 1/3 of the popular vote…watch that state crumble when the other states have no voice and stop feeding them. We are united states not fuck me in the ass population rabbit control

      • thats an old lie people in wyoming dont deserve more of a vote than other parts of the country thats why every state has the same amount senators. how can we have representation of the people if we dont have an equal vote? if you live in a wrong colored state your vote gets thrown away. so take cali ten times the population of wy get their vote thrown away even if they were voting the same as wy.
        more importantly the electoral college is a scam to keep the general population from voting they only wanted the literate and land owners to be able to vote.
        not for nothing why are we giving extra votes to states that take more federal money than they put in?
        so let me guess your brilliant plan is to keep the same system thats been fucking us all for centuries.
        the only people that support the electoral college are the uber wealthy or fools that get their opinions from talking blowhards being paid by the uber wealthy.
        heres my proof, look how corrupt and owned our government is. they spend all our tax money. yet we cant even get our roads and bridges fixed.

        • You want one state to hold more than 1/3 the registered votes…you are either stupid or uneducated. So you can call of the others blowhards or wealthy. Watch them shun Cali. Let’s see how long cali lasts their famine years when other states say fuck you. It is united states. Read that over and over…states states…. People vote their state. This is FUNDAMENTAL to the balance of powers. So people that want it abolished are college drop outs who don’t know how a popular vote has never resulted in a majority, fracturing countries and consolidating power to a few in a region. I will take the wisdom of the ones before me who set up the system…against Virginia at the time who had the same population % compared to others in the 13 states. They knew this was a PROBLEM. We are a republic. Read that again. Republic.

          • really heres some really simple math…
            cali has 17.9 million registered voters, total registered voters in america 146.3 million. where do you get 1/3, and by get i mean who told you to think that one?
            i never said i wanted anyone to live in cali.
            cali grows the most food stop watching walking dead like its non fiction.
            some people do not vote their state. but if you live in a state where 51% prefer a party that you dont, you and 49% of your state dont get any vote. that equals huge numbers of americans who dont really get to vote.
            you are correct we are supposed to be a republic but with a democratically elected government….you know one person one vote.
            thats no longer true sadly and one of the reasons is the electoral college. eg people we never see or elect decide who gets our votes. they have gone against the popular vote in the past. also they are all registered democrats or republicans so biased. elections are determined by a small %. much easier to rig an electoral college vote than a true democratic vote.

            you sound like you mean well but i dont think your taking into account corruption/evil men. the proof is our present situation. voting is a farce, the two party system is rigged they are in bed together. corporations basically have more influence than we the people.

            dont forget the wisdom that came before you believed it was ok to own some people while killing others for their land. they also believed women should not be allowed to vote. ask mama strange how wise that is.

            i understand why they chose the electoral college. they were nervous the whole thing could come apart. it was a brand new country.
            we no longer fear that 51% are going to elect a communist dictator or a pro return us to the rule of the king of england candidate.
            they were not however trying to give a disproportionate amount of vote to the lesser populated states or make it easier for Shitbags to rig our elections.

          • The electoral college was not to prevent ill educated. It was to prevent people who had no clue who was being voted to win an election.

            Majority votes doesnt ever mean 51%. It can totally mean 30 vs 28 vs 25 percentages…and according to rule…the 30 wins. Now you could put in some ‘rule’ that would mean it would weed out the others and continue going till you get 2 left. But that defeats what you propose…end to the party system. And it would almost guarantee the states with the biggest population would always have their man in the game since they can out vote any state.

            Now lets look at 2008. Cali put up 8million votes for Obama 61% of the turnout. Now lets assume that because everyone now has a say the voter turn out skyrockets…from 13million turnout to say 22million (because they have 25million age eligible voters, 17.9 was 72% turnout). 22million is higher than 80% (88%) that other nations with a full 1to1 system have. So 61% of 22million is 13.42million votes. So 88% turnout for a state. National we will assume same 88% turnout. 129million…meaning 64million needed.

            Now lets think about this. California at this rate holds 1/5th the voting power. (Close to my 1/3rd voting power if everyone voted for a single party). The total turnout of 13.42million votes in this scenario…means they have more voting power than 45 States whose ENTIRE population is less than 13million.

            You honestly think people will give up that power to Cali? Yea no. In ‘simple’ math as you so stated, we can see how a single state can not only dwarf other states in voting, but dwarf them so much it literally is higher than 45 other states ENTIRE population. THIS IS WRONG.

            We are a republic. We vote people to represent the STATE. So as a result. States should mimic the vote of the people. Which we do. Also this scenario of them voting against the public is 1% of all the voting. So we have had 99% electoral vote for the popular vote.

            If we use your 1% logic as reason to show its flaws…then we have to assume that Cali could potentially push 25million for a single candidate…especially if that candidate was from Cali itself. Tada corruption at its finest.

            Slave ownership and voting rights has nothing to do with electoral college. Full democracy is as old as ancient greeks…really want to play the ‘it is to old’ game here?

          • A little late here. But wouldn’t the people from the smaller states simply gain support from all others (both small and large states) voting for their preferred official? What you’re saying would be true if we had lots of people to choose from, but in a two or even four party system, the majority of the vote goes to the top two candidates. So, say California, which is a blue state would now have millions of people whose vote would count (those voting replication) and vise versa, a democrat voting in Texas can have their count vote, so while there are more people in California than in Texas, all the stifled voices count. Yes, you have a large number of voters in the more populous states, but you have more support where you wouldn’t from all the other states.

          • Yes and no. Because it can also be that party lines slowly desolve into ‘state’ interest lines. Meaning that both Cali, NY, FL…all have areas that would affect them greatly, more than any other Midwest state. So now people of that state, vote for their own candidates or combined candidate effort. And in just a few short cycles, 5 states or less can control 45 states. California alone, if we think of people voting as a mob, which can and does happen, in a short life span, they control 1/3rd the voting total needed to obtain a majority vote.

          • Thanks Dr. Strange. Most foreign countries I’ve been to use the populous system and when I’m asked about US elections, I have to explain that we use the electoral college system and when put into simplest terms, it kind of works out the same. The greater the population, the more electoral votes, and with the exception of the few times in which a candidate won the presidency with fewer popular votes than electoral votes, the results are usually the same. I understand why the electoral vote came to be, and you’ve helped me to understand it’s importance, thank you. I just can’t help to feel that the fuzzy math somehow works as an injustice toward some. Or in the future, if demographics change, and all the most populated states were to go blue for example, how much of a disadvantage would it put the smaller states? I mean, if you add up the five highest states you only get about 171 electoral votes, not enough to win, but add the next states with the highest electoral votes and 11 states could essentially decide for all 50. The question then would be, whether a head count would produce the same numbers in the end? I mean, will we see more elections in the future where it doesn’t come out the same? Here’s an example: in 2012 President Obama won 26 states plus D.C. and Mitt Romney won 24, pretty close right? If you look at the popular vote, Obama had 65,446,032 votes while Romney had 60,589,084, so he was beaten by only 4,856,948 votes, or by 3.85% more of the popular vote. Pretty close. But now looking at the electoral vote, Obama had 332 and Romney only had 206, or put another way, Obama ended up with 23% more electoral votes. If the electoral votes reflected the popular votes, Obama would have ended up with 287 electoral votes; still enough to win which would have been the same result either way, but in the future will this model continue to work? I’m looking foward to see how tomorrows numbers turn out.

          • What you see there, is that more state level support. Despite populace vote. What this shows is that more states, supported him, despite the populace vote. And yes 11 states could define the outcome, but isn’t 11 better than 5? As well, swing states wouldn’t exist in a population vote.

            Lets take a look at this scenario, Cali, NY and FL, all voted Blue as a majority. That is 113 Votes, less than half that is needed (41%). Now, lets take a gander that we go populace vote, and with that, we get ‘statehood’ pride. In which the founding fathers knew could happen, because this goes back thousands of years, all the way past Rome, to Athens. Now with those voting blue, lets assume that mob rule comes to play, and that 70% of their votes turn blue, because the President is from Cali and the VP from NY, and they have buddies in FL to help push it. So now, we have 3 states that can get over half the votes needed for a WH bid (~55%), on just a 70/30 split. And then you let word out that your state can benefit greatly from this and what happens if it turns to 80% of the state voting to have their man in? Currently if a person from Cali runs, No matter how blue/red (Cali was historically red big time before blue for Clinton), they still only get to dictate…55 out of 270 votes. The entire 24million age eligible voters could vote for their person and they still only get…1/5th vote, instead of controlling over 1/3rd of the vote.

            Of course we can hope that this wouldn’t happen but it can. And because of Texas being traditionally red, just taking out Texas, you need 4 states to push an entire take over of the top 15 states. Problem is, once you get into the 11 count states for electoral college and texas, now all of a sudden you can’t simply pander to just a few states, you have to vote in the swing states, you have to go to FL, Ohio, NC, you have to go and reach places that have vastly different views. Do you think someone in Ohio who is reliant on factories to produce goods in the country, cares about the dock workers who rely on china imports to keep them going? They are inherently opposite. You pander to the dockers and you hurt the producers, you pander to the producers you can hurt the dockers. The person then has to pander to both needs.

            The biggest thing though, is not thinking of the USA as united people, but literally read the constitution. The United States of America. That right there, means that States are sovereign in nearly all things domestic. They have their own Constitution, their own laws, regulations. While we follow a Federal Code, States are free to change, adjust, and even sometimes nullify federal ruling, which the supreme court will hear. Because of this, the State is now the representative of its people. As a result, states votes matter, not the mob mass of the people. States. And we take this away, we might as well dissolve congress, because what is the point of state representation if we take the person who is in place to oversea the states and now make him subject to individual rule and not State needs?

          • Oh and no. The President was never considered democratically elected. Look at the history and really the President almost had nothing but puppet powers. The reason the term UNITED STATES exists, is because in all reality, States are their Own Entity. It is hard to think of that today because we are so unified. But states have their own Constitution, their own by laws etc. We have federal rules/regulations/laws to make sure states play nice with each other. The only position not directly elected is the president. Because all others of the entire government is elected democratically by the state. They then Represent said state in the government. We are a collection of States…not a single voting power. If you open up to full democracy, policies that affect NY can affect Cali differently…negating Individual state powers. Which is why States even exist in the first place. People view the USA as one system….IT IS NOT. NOR should it ever be. Once we realize that STATES have the say over THEIR people. As it should be. Then we realize why we do not vote 1to1 for the highest position of the land.

          • all European country’s vote by popular vote and they are much fairer than your corrupt system

            500+ people are easier to bribe than 300.000.000+

          • Spain…constitutional monarchy, the head of state is by family rule, the ‘president’ of Spain is elected by congress. In France the prime minister is chosen by a president of the republic. Let’s not go into how it can corrupt into cohabitation in France. So I wouldn’t say…all. You seem to forget that the entire body of congress is done by citizen vote.

  • For those who think we should go to a nationwide popular vote versus the Electoral College to select the president should be reminded that the founders set up The United States as a representative federal republic and not a democracy, which as widely misunderstood. “Federal” meaning a federation of States and “republic” meaning governed by elected representatives rather than by a monarch.

    The founders were very concerned about a central Federal government gaining too much power where tyranny would be the natural result. This is why the Constitution lays out the separation of powers with a system of checks and balances between three branches. This is also why the 10th amendment (one of the “Bill of Rights” amendments added shortly after ratification of the Constitution) was added which says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” It is clear that the founders intended for the States to maintain a high level of sovereignty in the federation as a check to the power of the central Federal government.

    The founders were also concerned about any one State or group of States gaining too much power. This is why the Constitution defines a bicameral legislative branch for the Federal government that is populated by citizens from every State that respects the sovereignty of individual States yet recognizes that more populous States should have more representation than less populous States.

    The Electoral College was setup as a mechanism for the States to elect the president. It was setup in recognition that the States have sovereignty. To prevent any one State or group of States from having too much power in the selection of the president the same formula for distribution of representation in Congress is utilized. Therefore each State has the same number of Electoral College votes to select a president as they have members in Congress (2 Senators plus the number of Representatives in the House of Representatives). It is up to each individual State to determine how their Electoral College Electors will cast their votes.

    A tremendous amount of thought and debate among hundreds of very intelligent founding fathers went into the writing, ratification and amending of the Constitution of the United States. It has served us very well when followed. The Constitution purposefully created a system/mindset/paradigm/culture that we are a collection of States (hence the name “The United States”) and NOT a single supreme Federal State. Going to a nationwide popular vote would be yet another move toward “The United States of America” becoming “The Federal State of America” which is NOT what the founding fathers set us up to be. Unfortunately, it appears that many of our voting citizens and many of our elected officials either do not understand this or they choose to ignore it.

    I would rather live in “The United States” versus the “The Federal State”. That way there would be 50 different States, each with a different and unique system of government. There would be 50 different living experiments in what is the best system for the balances between liberty versus protection/laws, taxation versus government services, local authority versus centralized authority, etc… This way one could move to a different State if one didn’t like how the State one was in was being run. In this manner the States that have better systems would be more successful and naturally attract people to them. The States with poor systems would be forced to improve their systems to better match the expectations of their citizens. The effect would be a natural expectation for States to improve their government systems because there would be an element of competition. But more importantly, people would have the opportunity/freedom to choose to live in a State that better matched their values. Alas, we are becoming “The Federal State of America” where if one doesn’t agree with how things are being run the only real way the change that circumstance (unless you are a member of the ruling class) will be to leave the country.

    • not to mention a popular vote would only require like 5 states…gibe or take. California has over a 1/3 of the required voter count. people have no clue how dangerous it is to have one state control 50 states.

    • Hi Ronald. I have been having a very nice back and forth with Dr. Strange on this but let me ask you… why is it that the EC is a winner takes all system? I am not entirely against the EC as a system of voting but the winner takes all setup really doesn’t seem to represent the people as the Founding Fathers imagined. In Maine and Nebraska they share the votes among the parties with proportional representation. Why isn’t that a thing in all of the states? 55 guaranteed votes to the left is really frustrating for us in Cali that vote for the right. I am truly not being heard in regards to the Prez election.

      • Thanks KLD for the compliment by asking this question.

        There is no one entity, such as the Federal Government, dictating to the States how they shall determine how they will vote their electors. It is up to each individual State to determine for themselves how they will vote their electors.

        The primary reason most States have implemented a winner-take-all system is due to the existence of political parties. Many of the founding fathers did not want political parties to form but, due to basic human nature, they did and have driven the political process ever since. The political parties drive the political process at the Federal, State and local levels. When one party gains the upper hand in a given State they naturally do all they can to consolidate that power. They use that power to push through State legislation that will give them ALL of that State’s electors in presidential elections.

        As I said in my previous post, the founding fathers wrote the Constitution in such a way to purposefully create a system/mindset/paradigm/culture that we are a collection of States and NOT a single supreme Federal State. It is clear that the founders intended for the States to maintain a high level of sovereignty in the federation as a check to the power of the central Federal government. Proponents of winner-take-all systems argue that splitting their electoral votes would diminish their State’s influence (a.k.a. power) in the Federal Government.

        Even though you live in a State that is controlled by a political party you primarily disagree with you do have options other than giving up. You can work to change the power structure in your State or you can move to another State that better fits your values thereby helping that State maintain those values. Your vote is more impactful/less diluted within any State election (even one as large as California) than it would be in a National election.

        If we go to a nationwide popular vote these options (in regards to selecting the president) would go away. It is much more difficult to change the political power structure on the National level than the State level. If we continue to migrate towards the States losing their sovereignty/power and thereby losing their ability to check/moderate the increasingly powerful National government, when one party/group gains the upper hand and consolidates power it will become VERY difficult to dislodge them or challenge their will. The result will be tyranny. It has been pointed out that a handful of large urban areas would theoretically be able to control a popular vote national election. If that happened most of the country area wise and a large percentage of the population would be feeling how you are now feeling as a conservative in California, i.e. powerless to change a situation you don’t like.

        • Ok, so it is up to the individual states on how they want the EC to work. Could the Fed Gov’t force them to change this to a fairer more balanced system such as Proportional Representation in Maine and Nebraska? I realize the word ‘force’ is not very friendly in our Republic but why is this even allowed to continue as it is? Has there been any effort to change the current system? It really is mind boggling that a winner takes all vote even exist in a Democracy.

          • I don’t intend to be demeaning or argumentative but I see that you are struggling with understanding the reality that the United States was setup as a collection of States participating in a federal republic which is not a democracy. We do, in most cases, utilize democratic principles applied in various ways to select the individuals that will represent us in the numerous government positions from the local level all the way to the national level. I recommend you research the concept of, “tyranny of the majority” to understand why the founders were very wary of setting up pure democracies at any governmental level.

            You seem to view the concept of “winner take all” negatively. I’m sure you are aware that almost all elections (including presidential elections whether decided by Electoral College or popular vote) results in a “winner take all” scenario. All National and State elections conclude with a significant percentage of the voters not happy with the outcome. Some people think the system in their State for determining how their electors will be voted is rigged or unfair. That is a different can of worms regarding the debate of Electoral College versus popular vote. However, it is much easier to change/fix any State election system than it is to change/fix a National election system.

            As I have said in my previous posts, it is clear that the founders intended for the States to maintain a high level of sovereignty in the federation as a check to the power of the central Federal government. Over the years the intended sovereignty of the States has, and continues to be, eroded and the Federal government has become more and more powerful. If, as you suggest, the Federal government were allowed to dictate to the States how they were to determine their Electoral College votes, the ever dwindling sovereignty of the States would be made even less. Because of the 10th amendment it would be clearly unconstitutional for the Federal government to dictate how the States are to determine their elector votes, however this has not stopped many other Federal government overreaches that have occurred and allowed to stand.

            Other posters have said that the Electoral College was setup because the founders didn’t want uneducated and/or uninformed individuals participating in the process to select a president. While some founders may have felt this way, it was not the primary reason it was setup as is. The primary reason was to insure the intended sovereignty of the States was maintained and consistent throughout the Constitution.

            If we are able to sustain our federal republic (which at this point in time is looking doubtful) we citizens will have the opportunity/freedom to move to and live in the State that best fits ours values and needs. We can work within our State political systems to mold the size, shape and influence of that State government, and local governments, with minimal interference/control of the Federal government. As I wrote in a previous post, this way there will be 50 different States, each with a different and unique system of government. There will be 50 different living experiments in what is the best system for the balances between liberty versus protection/laws, taxation versus government services, local authority versus centralized authority, etc… At its core the Electoral College versus popular vote debate is a microcosm of the bigger question that is, do we want to continue to be a federal republic or not?

          • Hi Ronald, took me a bit to respond as I was out of the state for a couple of weeks with no ‘net. No worries regarding the Federal Republic statement you made at the beginning of your latest post.
            My concern has become more about the lack of fairness in regards to the current winner take all EC system that guarantees 55 Electoral votes that Hillary will get in CA. As of the current poll on Fox (Nov. 1) she already has 172 votes of the 270 needed and this is before the actual election. Why in the world does it make any sense that she gets all 55 and that Trump receives none even though there are obviously at least a few EC voters representing Trump supporters in CA? As mentioned earlier, Maine and Nebraska do not have the CA system so why do the rest of the states continue with this? I only ask because, yes, I am a bit naive about our political system. It all seems to kinda suck.

          • KLD – If California were to ever go to a system for voting their electors similar to Nebraska or Maine, the Constitunal path to get there would be for the people of California to make it happen via their political process versus being mandated to do so by the Federal government. If we follow the Constitution, it is up to each State to determine how they will vote their electors without direction or interference from the Federal government. Remember the United States was setup as a federation of States that are/were intended to have individual and independent sovereignty with the exceptions of the specifically listed/enumerated powers given to the Federal government in the Constitution. The Federal power to mandate to the States how they are to determine how they will vote their electors is NOT one of the listed/enumerated Federal powers in the Constitution and therefore (because of the 10th amendment) this power is reserved to the States.

            If enough California citizens feel as you do a movement could be started to get California to change from a winner-take-all system. We know this would be a long and hard uphill battle but with a core group of well-organized and motivated people it could be done. With California firmly in the hands of the Democrats/liberals one would think this concept would appeal to their self-avowed moral foundation of “fairness” (Please read “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt). However the reality is political parties (especially those in power) are rarely known for supporting any initiative that could diminish their hold on power.

            The Democrats like to position themselves as purveyors of fairness through concepts such as “one person – one vote” and everyone (citizens, non-citizens, felons, illegal aliens, youth, etc.) should be able to vote. However in California they would almost certainly be strongly against changing the winner-take-all system for voting their Electoral College electors because it would diminish their ability to deliver all those electors towards the election of a Democratic president. The Republicans would also very likely resist any similar initiative in the States where they have political control, for example in Texas.

            In my opinion the fact that Nebraska and Maine do not have winner-take-all systems for voting their electors is not so much a testament that those States are more democratic or smarter or fairer than everyone else as it is a testament that in the history of those States neither political party has managed to gain enough control to push through a winner-take-all system. Perhaps the citizens of these States are even more entrenched on each side of the political spectrum than the citizens of the other States such that they will not be moved, regardless of circumstance, to allow (even for a brief time) one party enough power to push through winner-take-all elector voting legislation. I think the balance of power in these states is a good thing for them.

            The short answer to your question about why don’t the other States vote their electors similar to Nebraska and Maine is political parties have gained control of State politics and have setup winner-take-all systems to enhance their ability to elect their candidate for president. Many of the founding fathers did not want political parties to form. They foresaw how they could become too powerful and abuse the spirit and intent of the Constitution and subvert the application of democratic principles in the selection of individuals for government positions. They foresaw that individuals that gain government positions by way of political parties would represent the party first versus representing the people. However political parties do exist and are VERY entrenched. They drive and control the political process at all levels.

            I understand your concern that many of our political systems, including the systems for voting Electoral College electors in most States, are not “fair”. I suspect that sometime in your life you have been told, “Life is not fair”. While this is a true statement that all adults should recognize and understand, it does not mean that we should not make efforts to make life more “fair”. However what is considered “fair” to one individual/entity may not be considered “fair” to another. Political parties love to utilize the nebulous concept of “fairness” to manipulate individuals to support them so they can force their brand of “fairness” on everyone.

            In the end the only “fair” governmental/political systems are those that allow individuals the freedom/liberty to live their lives as they please. However most people understand that there must be a balance between the needs of a functioning society (a.k.a. governmental control through laws and regulations) and individual liberty. Almost all of the political battles (past and present) boil down to the issue of where the appropriate balance point (between government size and control versus individual freedom) is to be implemented. The founding fathers understood the propensity for governments to grow in size and power at the expense of individual freedoms. For this reason the U.S. Constitution (when followed) limits the power of the Federal government. If our State government becomes too oppressive we have opportunity to move to a different State. As the U.S. Constitution continues to be obfuscated and ignored the size and power of the Federal government continues to grow at the expense of our individual freedoms.

          • Hi Ronald. That was a ….detailed reply. Thanks for taking the time to write it. Seems what the founding fathers predicted has actually taken place. Gotta love the gov’t’s respect for the Constitution. Considering how much you obviously know about the process, I really do hope you have a good day tomorrow (the big one). Fingers crossed that the aliens finally invade tonight at 12:01 AM.

          • Hey Ronald. Well that turned out differently than I anticipated. Here’s another question that, due to circumstances, I need to ask you… Why, if the popular vote was so dang close, did Mr. President Elect Trump get so many more electoral votes? I figured it would be a lot closer.

          • KLD – The short answer to your question is because the system worked as intended. Keep in mind the States elect presidents, not individual citizens. The United States is setup as a federal republic and is a collection of States, not a collection of individual citizens (which would be pure democracy).

            The mathematical answer is because each State’s representation in the Electoral College (number of electoral votes) is the same as their representation in the Federal Legislature which is 2 senators plus the number of Representatives they have in the House (which is based on population). This compromise respects the sovereignty of each State (each State has 2 senators in the Senate regardless of population) and recognizes that more populous States should have more representation than less populous States which respects the sovereignty of the individual citizen. Because of this compromise it takes fewer individual citizen votes to determine an elector vote in less populous States than in more populous States. The extreme examples are;
            California; Population ~ 38,802,500 Elector votes = 55 Citizens per Elector vote ~ 705,500
            Wyoming; Population ~ 584,153 Elector votes = 3 Citizens per Elector vote ~ 194,717
            Another factor in the mix is some States may have significantly higher or lower voter turn-out (as a % of their population) versus other States.

            I think this election has been a good example for why we should keep the Electoral College system. At this time (there are 3 States that have yet reported all their votes) it appears the Democrats have 50.085% of the popular vote and Republicans have 49.915% (a difference of 0.169%), however the Republicans won, or are leading in, 29 States (58%) while the Democrats won, or are leading in 21 States (42%) which is a difference of 16%. The Republicans appear to have won 306 Elector votes (56.88%) and the Democrats won 232 Elector votes (43.12%) which is a difference of 13.76%. As has become typical of national elections, the Democrats basically carried the large population centers on the east and west coasts and the Chicago area and the Republicans carried the States in the middle which is many more States and a much larger land area.

            This election has demonstrated that if we go to a nationwide popular vote system the handful of large urban areas will dominate and control the selection of the president (and therefore a large chunk of national politics) and the rest of the country will be SOL. It would be a huge step towards the dissolution of our federal republic that has had so much success in providing its citizens opportunities to live their lives as they please.

          • And with that final reply, I understand the system. You have been extremely helpful, Ronald. Thank you for your not inconsiderable time and effort. It really has been a pleasure typing with you. Trump! 2016, yay, (I hope)

    • cause that worked so well in yugoslavia

  • We have an electoral college instead of a popular vote because the founders knew that if it was left to a popular vote then all a candidate would have to do is win a few major cities to tie up the election. So if you were to live in 1 of maybe 20 cities today, your vote would matter. If you lived anywhere else in the country, you may as well stay home on election day. Also, the people didn’t vote for the president or the Senate originally the state legislatures did. The House of Representatives was the voice of the people, the Senate was the voice of the states and the Executive branch was empowered by the state legislatures to speak for them in matters of diplomacy where it would have been unwieldy for each state to make their own treaties with foreign powers or if each state retained control over their local military forces in time of war. A single leader was needed to prevent chaos.

    • shoo shoo shoo logic doesn’t apply here. I do not like one state having over 1/3 registered voters to decide a popular vote

  • States are losing power more each day, and you want to take more?

    • A point for discussion: why should any individual citizen have more (or less) say in who becomes president than another just because they live in a particular state?

      • they don’t. Their state had the power. Why should NY have more voting power when our state feeds their asses? Just because you can birth like rabbits and put people into small places doesn’t mean they matter more than the person who feeds millions of them. If anything on an economic stand point of living…the bread belt rules all. So now imagine if we went to a popular vote…where one state holds more than 1/3 the registered voters to acquire the national election. You want one state to have the power over 50states?! Why should they matter more because they live there? We are united states…not fuck me in the ass population controlled voice. Do not bite the hand that feeds you.

  • When I voted for the first time in a US general election I was 18 & I wanted to abolish the Electoral Collage. After a few more politically active years I realized how essential it is. This article was written during the 2016 election campaigns, yet this author is foolish enough to state that today Americans are united behind our constitution & nation. This nation has multiple domestic terrorists groups with millions of members. Some were created around racial hatred, some religious extremism & many are anti-government fanatics who want to dissolve this Union(we will no longer be a super power & the citizens of each state will lose money & liberties, but these kinds of people don’t care to research the consequences of their actions). Our technology has vastly improved but not human intelligence or our abilities to maturely control our emotions, so the Electoral college is as essential as ever. Government positions are jobs. US citizens get to choose by vote which applicants get to fill those jobs. US voters have full access to the resumes of each candidate & the means to verify the facts on those resumes for themselves, as well as interview every candidate on their ballot. Yet we do not do that. Very few citizens make their choices rationally or logically, as they would if they were choosing a surgeon or even a car mechanic. Herd mentality dominates US elections & most citizens vote as their preferred group tells them too. That isn’t harmful when filling our legislative branch, but the executive branch has only one decision maker. That position should not be chosen out of self-interest or emotion. The Electorial College puts the needs of the nation above all else.

  • The west coast states are given the leftovers for the primary election. I live in Washington state. I was amazed when I went to work in Iowa and learned about how many people actually ran for the presidential position. By the time the primary election in Washington, the rest of America has gotten rid of the good candidates.

  • This system needs to be CHALLENGED by the PEOPLE. It is non sense for R.I. To have so much influence on any election. There has to be a way we can get this changed.

  • If you believe in the concept of one person, one vote, that is fine.

    If you believe in the electoral college, that is fine too.

    But PLEASE do NOT claim that you believe in both. The two are mathematically incompatible.

  • Jiminy Kricketts

    i havent seen this addressed. but is the argument simply to change to a popular vote? if so, then i doubt that will happen. my suggestion is to give each state equal representation no matter what the size. let’s arbitrarily say 15 votes each state. there would be no magic number like 270, but whoever garners the most electiral votes wins. now that’s what i call compromise.

    • Jiminy Kricketts

      quite honestly, you could give each state 1 vote, or 100. the percentages are the same. i also think the mindset of the electoral college is based on the model of a republic, and not a true democracy, such as is our government.

  • The US does not have compulsory voting. Therefore, one of the problems candidates face is getting “their” supporters to come out and vote. It is also noted that some areas are deeply red and some deeply blue. To win the popular vote, a good tactic would be for each candidate to concentrate heavily on drumming up turnout in their biggest concentration of loyalists, and ignore small states like South Dakota. I don’t consider that terribly democratic. However, under the Electoral College system they both have to vie for the votes of South Dakota.
    But perhaps we should examine the bigger problem: that just a majority of (say) ½% would radically change the outcome of an election. This is a defect in democracy, and I don’t know how to correct it.

  • Well, as you probably know by now, the Democrats won the popular vote, by over 3,000,000 votes, but the Electoral College named Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. It is now only about eleven weeks until the 2020 elections, if they are even held. Between the Worldwide Pandemic of Coronavirus in full swing, the protesters all over the country, Secret Government troops in Portland, Oregon, where they teargassed Mayor Wheeler, who stood with the protesters, and especially President Trump’s responses to all of this, (“It’ll be fine. It will go away like magic.”), we may not have elections this year. Here in Oregon, we have had “mail-in” ballots for many years now. We get them weeks before they are due to be voted on, along with a booklet naming each candidate and their qualifications, and a pro and con of all the other issues to be voted on and we read. We make up our minds, mark our ballots, sign them, and mail them back in a double-thick envelope for privacy. The night of the elections, all the votes are tabulated and announced. It is all straight forward, very easy, and private. Our President seems to be scared of “Mail-In” fraud, as if someone could make illegal copies and ‘stuff’ the ballot boxes. Worries of something similar accounted years ago, in any one vote being suspect, that vote Is Not Counted. Anyway, we need to replace the President with someone competent.