I learned a lot of new stuff this week about what the electoral college really is and how presidents are elected. Now I understand why 4.5 million people have signed a Change.org petition (so far), demanding that the GOP delegates change their votes to reflect the popular vote, which went to Clinton.
Here’s the long and short of it, in case it’s confusing to you, too. ( I really hope I don’t explain any of this wrong.)
We do not vote for President in November. Nope. We don’t. We actually vote to determine the number of delegates from our states that will go to Washington to join the electoral college and vote for president on December 19th. Those delegates ultimately decide the outcome of the election. Most of these delegates are elected during the parties’ conventions.
The popular vote and the rules in each state dictate the number of delegates that join the electoral college. Most states (48 of them) have a “winner-take-all” system, wherein the popular vote determines which party will send its delegates to Washington. This means that if the majority of the popular vote in that state votes Republican, all of their Republican delegates go to Washington. Vice-versa for the Democrats. And, of course, the total number of delegates from each state is based on the states’ population.
Essentially, the US does not hold one election for President–it holds 51 mini elections, by state.
So even if the vote in 10 of the bigger states is very close–say .1% going to one party–all of the delegates from that party go to Washington. If 10 smaller states vote Democrat, their small number of delegates go to Washington. When you start to total the popular vote from all of the states, you can start to see a discrepancy. Territories like Guam–which voted for Clinton by a large margin–have no delegates at all, although their popular vote counts. Prominent third-party candidates also throw a spanner in the works, but I can’t even begin to explain that. (Confusing AF!).
In the case of the 2016 election, as of today (Friday, November 18), the latest numbers from the nonpartisan Cook Political Report showed that Democratic candidate Clinton has a lead of 1.43 million votes over Trump!
With a margin of 1.1 percent over the real-estate mogul, the former Secretary of State has 63,049,607 votes to the Republican candidate’s 61,610,484. WTF?
By the way, the votes are still being counted…so it may be an even higher margin.
So here we are. Trump won 289 delegates, and only needed 270 to win. And those GOP candidates will go to Washington and vote on December 19.
Now, about that petition…
Turns out, in most cases, the delegates don’t have to vote according to their parties! Most states let these delegates vote for the other party (these are called “faithless votes”) without repercussions. Other states charge a small fee to penalize them for changing their votes.
The big Change.org petition is to convince the delegates who voted for Trump to change their votes based on what the petition signers see as fairness. The signers believe that the delegates should represent the total popular vote.
If enough GOP delegates cast “faithless” votes (because they respect the overall NATION’S vote for Hillary), the Presidency could be overturned.
What do you think? Fair or unfair? Should the popular vote elect the president, or not?
And if you think it’s unfair, go sign that petition!
Let me know what you think in the comments, below.