Tomorrow is the big day. November 4th, 2008. Tomorrow the American people will make history in little booths all over the country. Tomorrow, folks will be glued to CNN, FoxNews, even MSNBC! Who will it be? Obama? McCain? How does it happen that the winner is determined even before the west coast of America has finished voting?
Let's go back to school for a minute (homeschool, cause they don't teach this in Public school anymore). Subject: Election 101
Voting for The President of The United States.
The framers of the Constitution set up this process called the Electoral College, as in group of people working for the common good, not going to university. They weren't sure it was a great idea to leave the election to just a national popular vote, nor did they like the idea of congress choosing the President. (Article II Sec. 1) The problem with their setup was that it did not foresee the forming of political parties. In the 1800 election this problem became very clear with the Jefferson/Burr ticket. Voters wrote both names down and there was tie forcing the vote to go to the House and ultimately electing Jefferson. The 12th Amendment was added to ensure that this did not happen again.
What does this mean to you? Although your ballot may say Obama/Biden or McCain/Palin you are really voting for Joe Smith who supports Obama/Biden or Mary Jones who supports McCain/Palin. So who the heck is Joe Smith and Mary Jones? They are the electors your state has chosen to vote for you in the Presidential election. 48 of the 50 states have a winner take all policy. All of the electoral votes are cast for the popular vote winner of that state. Maine and Nebraska are only awarded 2 electoral votes based on popular vote, the rest of their electoral votes are determined by the winner of each congressional district.
Your state's electors are equal to the number of your state's senators and U.S. representatives combined. There are 538 electoral votes up for grabs. A candidate only needs 270 to win the election and become President.
So can it happen that the candidate who did not win the "popular vote" become President? Yep. It's happened 4 times.
Who are your Presidential electors? Some states will list them on the ballot beside or under the candidates name. However, not all states are required to do so. You can click here to get a better idea of how many electoral votes your state has and what state laws are associated with them.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Become and informed voter. Learn the process. Teach your children and your grandchildren. Sometimes, as in my case, you can even teach your parents about this.
“The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.” - Benjamin Franklin