Posted: Oct 31, 2012 7:08 PM by John Reger
Updated: Dec 6, 2012 10:48 AM
Tonight's Good Question is about how we choose the President and Vice-President... which brings us to the Electoral College versus the popular vote. Carla Tackitt Stollmeyer from Cayucos asks: John, what exactly is the Electoral College? Good Question.
The Electoral College was established in the Constitution, a compromise by the founding fathers between having individual voters choose the President, and Congress doing it, like England's Parliament. Another goal was to even out the power between large states and small.
Each state gets the same number of votes as it's members of Congress, two for it's Senators and one for each Representaive... add in 3 for the District of Columbia and the College has 538 electors. Candidates Obama and Romney already have their own group of electors who are usually chosen by their respective parties.
Except for two states, the Electoral College is winner-take-all process. So voters like you and me cast our ballots and whichever candidate gets the majority of the state's popular vote gets all of that state's Electoral College electors. Count up the electoral votes and when someone reaches 270, a majority, you've got your President.
What's tricky is, that let's say you have two states with 10 electoral votes each. Say Obama gets a hundred percent of the popular vote in one and Romney gets 51 percent in the other. Even though Obama has more total popular votes, they both end up with the same number of electoral votes.
It gets even trickier if there's a tie in the Electoral College. Each state gets one vote determined by it's members of Congress. The President is picked by the House of Representatives where Republicans are the majority, and the Vice-president is picked by the Senate, where Democrats are the majority. In this scenario, Mitt Romney would become President and Joe Biden would be Vice- President.